One of my greatest frustrations implementing the read and react offense last season was the reduced amount of ball screen opportunities. Ball screens are used at every level of basketball because they are complicated to defend. At the same time, there are benefits to the read and react offense. I do not wish to ditch it completely. What I was in search of is a best of both world’s idea. Steve Boudreau gave me two ideas.
Throw & Go
The throw and go is a rule in five-out that will create a ball screen opportunity. Say for instance there is a forward on your team that is the best scoring option. Passes thrown to the best scoring forward at the top of the key will cue a throw and go ball screen. If the best scorer is a guard, the ball screen occurs when that player is in the corner and the wing vacates. The key player in both instances is the wing. That player must recognize the situation and basket cut with purpose and decisiveness.
Initiating a ball screen from the corner is difficult because the baseline gives the defense leverage. I would want the 2 in the diagram above to slide up a little higher before receiving the ball. The two needs to be alert on the wing to top pass to fill early. If the forward has room to sprint into the screen, I think it will be harder to defend. The solution might be a happy medium between the wing and corner. The 2 catches slightly below the free throw line extended.
One iteration could be to have the player (in this case the 1) that is making a basket cut come off a staggered screen on the other side. That way if the other three players sell out to help on the ball screen, the 1 is open coming off a curl or fading out for an open three.
4 Out, 1 in L Screen
The five-out offense can morph into four out, one in if players decide to post up after making the basket cut. Under this circumstance, the team can have a cue to set a ball screen again with a side isolated. I like the idea of the screen being an “L” type of screen because of the fact that my team utilizes a drill taken from Bob Hurley with this exact motion on the screen (see page four for more details). The spacing is better for a screen on the wing than it is higher up on the slot because weak side defenders cover more space.
The ball screen does not occur with all five players on the perimeter, but a read and react offense is flexible. Within that offense, there could be two posts, one post, or no post. In the final analysis, there are not five-out on the perimeter during the execution of the ball screen. There is a clear indication of who sets the screen and when.