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21 Series

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

Use the 21 Series as an ATO or Change of Pace set to compliment your 4 out Motion Offense.

The 21 Series has become extremely popular amongst NBA teams, most notably by Mike D'antoni's Houston Rockets teams. The action consists of a simple wing entry pass followed by a cut towards the basketball and then a drag screen from the trailing big. The creativity and possibilities with the action are endless and some of the recommended research I included at the end of the blog post will show that.

Back in 2016-17 we used 21 Series as an ATO, or change of pace action to compliment our four out Motion Offense. We thought that the action would allow our Point Guard to make plays out of the Drag Screen & Roll - and if that was not open swing it to the backside to post up our dominant big man.

Initial Action - "Give or Keep"

The initial action in 21 Series is an entry pass to the wing. It is the job of the wing player to "buttonhook" cut in order to open up space for the passer to cut behind him. This entry is then followed by a cut towards the basketball. The wing player then has the option to "Give" the ball back to the point guard or to "Keep" it.

Teaching Point - the key teaching point would be to determine if the defender aggressively denied the passer the ball back to the cutter or not. If he did then you would "keep" it. If the defender is lagging behind you would "give" it to the passer and get ready to receive your flare screen.

Secondary Action: "Drag Screen & Backside Action"

What you choose to do from here could probably be endless (See Further Research Section at End of Article). For us, once the Ball was "Given or Taken" the players on the backside would position themselves to receive the basketball. Our approach back in 2016-17 was to find a way to get our 5 Man a 'Duck In' for a touch in the paint. Regardless of whether we "Kept" or "Gave" the basketball he should have been getting ready to hammer his man in the paint to get a deep touch.

Regardless of whether the ball was "kept" or "given" the backside players would have to fill the slot opposite of the basketball. In some cases this was done by the 2 receiving the Flare Screen, and on other occasions it was a blast cut made by the backside 3 man. Either way the goal was to get the basketball into the post if it was not shot/driven on the catch.

21 Series: Give, Keep, Ball Screen, etc.

Further Reading & Study:

These are some of my favorite YouTube Videos that show NBA teams executing their own version of 21 Series. We wanted something simple to either get a score out of the Drag Screen or to get our 5 Man a Duck In Post Up on the backside - but the possibilities are endless.

Zak Boisvert, Mike D'Antoni 21 Specials -

Dave Feinstein, 21 Series -

Ryan Nguyen, 21 Nash -

Half Court Hoops, 2019 Playoffs 21 Series -

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