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One Play From Every Team
My favorite play from every NBA team so far this season.
Throughout the season I like to keep track of my favorite plays that teams run, and wanted to share some of the great ones I have seen. It was hard to choose just one, but here is my favorite play from each NBA team so far this season.
Note: This is best viewed in the app, and I have included the full YouTube playlist of all the sets at the bottom of the breakdown. With the length of this breakdown, it is best to open in the App or click here to view in the browser.
Memphis Grizzlies Cross Series
When it comes to After Time Outs the Grizzlies like to start off their plays with the same action, with one of them being a cross screen to enter the ball into the post.
They can flow into multiple counters but essentially whoever sets the cross screen to get that player in the post is the screener/shooter they are looking to create for - Bane in this example.
When the ball is entered into the post Bane then sets a backscreen looking for a lob.
The Grizzlies then add a counter to this action by instead of having Bane set a lob they have him come off a double screen - setting up the initial lob counter.
Sacramento Kings Euro Exit
Running empty ballscreens often, the Kings love to have the 3 players on the opposite side spaced with the player in the middle usually clearing out opposite. As the ballscreen is set here, Huerter cuts into the lane.
As a counter the Kings then have him come back to the same ballside corner and have the player in the corner pin in for him, looking for a slip.
They implemented this against the Lakers who play both man and zone, getting the slip here against a blown switch.
Then when the Lakers went Zone, they flashed Sabonis into space and beat the corner man backdoor.
Minnesota Timberwolves Skip Elevator
It’s hard to score at the end of games, but Finch did a great job here sending Naz Reid through Elevator Doors trying to get a quick catch and shoot 3.
Cleveland Cavaliers Horns Pistol
The Cavs run Horns Pistol action with multiple reads in the base action of entering the ball to Donovan Mitchell at the elbow. The first read is a quick hand back to Garland to get him downhill.
Mitchell LOVES to reject anything he can so anytime he feels pressure he immediately catches and attacks quickly.
If none of those options are open then he will end up running a ballscreen with Allen setting it, a tough cover for any defense.
Golden State Warriors Ram Horns Pistol
The Warriors have added this same action to their playbook for Steph to hand back to Poole to get downhill, since teams obviously will pay more attention to Steph in this situation.
This play starts off with a screen around the elbows in the middle of the floor to free up the entry to Steph.
Then goes right into a hand back that can also act as a ballscreen to get Poole downhill.
Denver Nuggets Horns Rip DHO 5
Perhaps the biggest advantage of having an absurdly talented and flexible big like Jokic is the creative sets you can run. Here they use him as the backscreener in Horns to go into a dribble hand off - an action usually reserved for NBA’s best shooters.
New Orleans Pelicans Delay Punch Roll
Out of Delay or 5-Out the Pelicans use an initial screen down on the wing to setup a post up action to start this play.
They then go into “Down Roll” or a player cutting into the lane and then coming back off a screen for a shot - classic D’Antoni action.
Portland Trail Blazers Punch Strong
The Trail Blazers have utilized several entries to get into their “Punch Strong” action or a stagger screen around the middle of the free throw line for cutters and shooters. More often than not, they set this up with a cross screen.
After the ball gets passed into the post, the two players screen away for the opposite wing and have the first player curl and the second player come off looking for a shot.
They also pass the ball into the post out of Sideline out of Bounds after an initial UCLA screen - typically for Jerami Grant.
Here you can see the first player Dame screen and the second player curl, then Dame comes off looking for the shot.
This action was a staple of the Utah Jazz offense under Quin Snyder as well:
Utah Jazz Horns Dribble Back
A creative decoy set the Jazz screen for a guard around the elbow and then make a quick pass to the wing, similar to Pistol 5 action.
Then as the ball gets handed back to Conley, the player who flips it back screens for a throwback involving the 4-5 man.
LA Lakers Hook Hammer
It’s only fitting that the Lakers Hammer play is included on here since Darvin Ham invented the play. The Lakers have AD screen for the player in the corner and then open up right back to the ball for the pass.
The ball is then handed back to LeBron with Westbrook setting the weakside Hammer screen.
LA Clippers Delay Over
When the Clippers go to their 5-Out small ball they like to get the ball in the middle of the floor or the elbows, but here they enter the ball to the middle - Delay.
The passer then goes over the top and screens away going into a hand off, with their spacing this allows for downhill drives for players like Powell.
Atlanta Hawks BOB Weak (Late)
In late-clock scenarios the Hawks like to invert the normal screen the screener play (also called Triangle) and have Trae Young screen up for the player toward the ball then come off a weakside screen to the corner looking for a catch-and-shoot opportunity.
Brooklyn Nets 12 Pop Pistol
With Kyrie and KD gone, we will actually get to see some of the Nets coaching staff’s playbook (looking forward to more Kokoskov stuff!) and they started to go to a set for Joe Harris that the 76ers ran all the time for JJ Redick. The play starts off with a 1-2 ballscreen or guard-to-guard action that is designed for Harris to ghost.
This then flows into 2-Man game with the player on the wing, ironic because Simmons was the handler in the initial JJ set, Simmons to catch and play from there.
This is a set that the Wizards have also gone to with Beal/KP - with a counter coming to this one.
Washington Wizards 12 Pop Pistol Back 5
The counter the Wizards have added to take advantage of Porzingis’ shooting is to have Beal come off and attack to the baseline.
Then the point guard and big who screened set a double throwback screen for KP to come off looking for a shot.
Chicago Bulls Chin Flare Slip
The most common look for the Chicago Bulls is to run Chin action, a backscreen into a ballscreen that starts off with a screen for the player on the wing.
A great counter they have added is Flare/Slip action with an empty side looking to cause chaos when teams switch.
Although here they don’t create a direct score off it, the communication issues create a downhill driving lane for Derozan.
Miami Heat Cross Punch Rip
The Heat run some cool actions, and they got the same look twice against the Wizards out of the post. Here the ball is entered to Lowry and they set up a weakside backscreen/hammer screen.
When the defense switches this action, the player who set the backscreen now has his man on the high side and slips right to the basket for an easy layup - TWICE!
Boston Celtics Touch Ghost Flare
Mazzula and his staff have added lots of 5-Out actions, but this one was one of my favorites, starting off just like the Clippers set by having a pass to the middle and cutting over the top, this time handing it back to Smart.
Tatum then sets a ghost screen for Smart and then comes off a flare screen for the open 3.
Detroit Pistons Dive Turn Pin
The Pistons run a clever action to disguise a pindown for Bojan here starting off with Dive action or pushing the trailer backdoor. After the big low in the dunkers spot then sprints up like he is going to set a ballscreen - action that you can see has AD focusing on the ball.
Then he turns and goes right into a pindown for the corner looking to free up Bojan off it.
Oklahoma City Thunder Dive Elbow
Using the same Dive action the Thunder like to get the ball to the elbow after the wing flashes and run multiple actions. Here they go to a Flare/Slip vs the Celtics switching and SGA gets a bucket vs the switch. They alsot will go into counters that flow into staggers, hand offs and allow their players to read the defense off this one initial action.
Milwaukee Bucks Ghost Exit 5
I love creative sets, but I love creative sets for shooting bigs SO much. I am not sure why, but seeing players this size be able to stretch the floor off actions is awesome. The Bucks use decoy action to have Giannis set a ballscreen for Jrue and then have Lopez cut from the dunkers spot to the ballside corner for a 3 pointer.
They will also use this set against Zone defense by having the player on the outside screen the lowest player toward the corner for the 3.
Charlotte Hornets Pistol 4 Strong
I have to admit, the Hornets are a tough watch so finding my favorite play was not an easy task. The best one I found was a 2-man game between LaMelo and a player near the elbow looking to hand it back with a weakside stagger action.
Dallas Mavericks Slice Punch
I was curious to watch how the Luka/Kyrie pairing would look, but I was optimistic since Kyrie has experience on and off the ball and Luka is such a good passer it would not matter. Here they get Luka off of “Slice” action into the post - an action they have been running all year to enter the ball into the post.
Then they go into the same Strong action off the post with two players, here Luka finds Kyrie on the backdoor cut for the layup.
Orlando Magic Swing
Keeping it simple, the Magic swing the ball into an empty ballscreen out of 5-Out but the key here is starting with a player in the corner and then on the reverse clearing him out to the opposite side.
They like to go to this action for Wagner to attack off of and emptying out the corner opens up for pick-and-pop opportunities as well.
Toronto Raptors EOG Gut
End-of-game sets and situations are hard, but the Raptors run a great look by setting an initial screen toward the corner and then screening down in the middle of the floor.
This usually is run for OG to get downhill and getting him in the middle makes it tougher to guard.
San Antonio Spurs Center Floppy
The Spurs go to a classic Spurs set where they flash a big to the middle of the floor and then go into Floppy action.
More often than not this flows into a handoff looking to get the player coming off the screen downhill.
Phoenix Suns 21 Boston Back
I have to stay with this set as my favorite from the Suns, even though they have been running it for a few years. It starts off with 21 action or a step up screen for Chris Paul by the player they want to get coming off the screen.
Then the shooters screens away and then comes back looking for a throwback 3.
Houston Rockets 21 Flip Lob
Staying with 21 action, the Rockets run a common lob set for KJ Martin who catches the ball on the wing and then flips it back.
With the paint empty he then comes off looking for a lob.
Indiana Pacers Lob Special
Another lob set similar to the Rockets, the Pacers run some decoy action before setting this up by having a shooter clear over the top first.
Then after a fake ballscreen the player they look to get the lob continues off the backscreen.
New York Knicks Chin Slip
Another team that likes to run Chin action is the Knicks, with their preferred counters being a pindown for the player in the corner.
This sets up their favorite counter, having the player who normally sets the pindown slip to the rim for a lob - designed for players like Toppin & Sims.
Philadelphia 76ers Horns LA Reverse
A classic Doc Rivers play, entering the ball to the elbow out of Horns and then faking a thru cut into a dribble hand off - a set he ran for Chris Paul all the time in LA.
I hope you enjoy this breakdown, and as always thank you again for all of your support and for sharing my work.