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Offensive Basketball Plays:

The basic purpose of offensive basketball plays is to free up players so they have the opportunity to score. If the defense is playing man to man, to get players free requires quick cuts and good screens. If players are moving fast and screens are set tough, players will pop open in scoring position. This offensive basketball play focuses on solid basketball fundamentals.

Coaching basketball at any level - youth or high school - should mean a focus on good fundamental skills. I like this play because it does just that - it uses good fundamental skills like cutting and pick n roll plays to set up players in scoring positions.

There are plenty of scoring opportunities and the play doesn't depend on any one player scoring - at some point in the play - movement, every player has the opportunity to score. And it's a fast moving play, which is good from a strategic point of view - makes it difficult for the defense to stay with their assignments - as well as a spectator point of view - it makes for an exciting game.

And it's simple, which is always good.

How this Offensive Basketball Play Works

  • Players set up as indicated in the diagram - one point guard (#1), two wings (#2 and #3), one forward (#4) and one post man (#5) on the high post.

  • The play begins with the ball at the point (#1) and movement starts with a pass from the point to the wing (#1 to #3).

  • The point guard (#1) immediately cuts to the opposite wing to set a screen for that wing (#2). At the same time, the post player (#5) steps in beside #1 to form a double screen for #2.

  • #2 cuts off the double screen from #1 and #5 and flashes into the key, looking for the pass from #3 and the layup.

offensive basketball play - con 1


Assuming #2 doesn't get the pass from #3, several things happen at the same time.

  • #5 remains in position, setting a screen now for #1 who rolls out and flashes through the key along the same path as #2 just ran, looking for a pass from #3 and the layup

  • #5 rolls out immediately after making contact on the screen, taking a step into the key and looking for the pass from #3 in the event that the man guarding him on the basket-side has been drawn off by #1's cut. If he gets the pass, #5 takes the ball strong to the hoop

  • #2 hooks in through the key to set a screen for #4, who flashes out to the wing at about the position just vacated by #1. #4 is looking for a pass from #3 across the top of the key - if the pass is made, #4 is looking for a shot

Note that this last pass across the top of the key is a dangerous pass to make - if the defense is quick and picks it off, they have an instant fast break that would be very difficult to stop. This pass should only be made if the defense has collapsed and #4 comes up completely free.

offensive basketball play - con 2
Scoring Options for this Offensive Basketball Play
  • #1 receives the pass from #3 and drives the lane

  • #5 receives the pass from #3 as he rolls out of the screen, and drives the lanes or takes the shot

  • #4 receives the pass from #3 and takes a shot (or possibly dumps the ball to #2 if the defense charges #4)
offensive basketball play - con 3

  • If none of these scoring options pan out, the ball should still be with #3

  • #5 steps up to the top of the key to act as safety and swing man. #3 passes him the ball.

  • #1 finishes his cut and slides out to the baseline
offensive basketball play - con 4


Again, several things will happen at once:

  • #3 steps down and sets a screen for #1, who cuts up hard to the wing looking for the pass from #5. If #1 receives the pass he looks immediately to take the shot or possibly to drive or even possibly a pass to #4 or #3 as they roll out of their picks

  • At the same time, #4 steps down and sets a screen for #2, who flashes out to the wing looking for the pass from #5. If #2 gets the pass he immediately looks for the shot, or possibly to drive or even possibly a pass to #4 or #3 as they roll out of their picks

  • #5 looks to pass to either #1 or #2 on the wings

offensive basketball play - con 5

  • #5 immediately drops back into the high post position

  • #1 or #2 - whoever receives the pass - dribbles the ball to the top of the key and sets up the play again.

  • The forward on the ball side (#3 if #1 gets the pass; #4 if #2 gets the pass) slides up into the wing slot vacated by the guard, and the other forward drops down into the low post position. The players are ready to run the play again

offensive basketball play - con 6

This isn't a very complicated offensive basketball play, but the series of cuts and screens happen quickly and one upon the next, so it is important for players to know when to cut and screen, and for everyone to be aggressively looking to score when the opportunity arises.

Also note that this offensive basketball play can be run on the opposite side, as long as your players are able to adjust - e.g., although #4 starts off on the low post, he really plays a wing position so there is no great need for height. If you switch sides, that would put #3 - a wing - in this position starting low, but he'll quickly rotate up to the wing.

I've never used this as my primary offense - I like the cutting and screening, but it is limited in what it offers. But it does make for a good secondary offensive basketball play that you can toss into play every now and again and shake things up, and make a few baskets off before returning to your primary offense.

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