One of my favorite ways to enter into half-court offense is to use the slot to slot pass as a trigger to cleanly signal 1) the end of transition offense and 2) the start of half-court offense.
My general preference when it comes to offense is not to have to make play calls every possession down the floor. I want the majority of our points to be scored with players executing the read-based create actions that we work on at practice every day. One of the concepts I have adopted to help facilitate this style of offense is the idea of establishing a trigger. To me, a trigger is essentially an unspoken action in your offense that serves as the clear transition from one phase of the game to the next. It does not require a call from a player or a coach.
When this trigger takes place we will build in an automatic cut or screen that then brings us into our main create action. The specific trigger that we will dig into in this post is a simple slot to slot pass. This is my preferred action because of its ability to blend naturally with almost any four-out offense. Regardless of whether I have employed dribble drive or screening-based actions I have been able to incorporate the use of this trigger. As soon as we cross the half-court line we are training our guys to maintain perfect four-out spacing and then hunt that slot to slot pass across the top to initiate our action.
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What is a Trigger? -
When I use the term trigger I am describing an action that signals to the players that we have now ended transition offense and begun half-court offense. The trigger is not something that a coach or player calls but is simply a dribble entry or pass that is made. Once this designated pass (or dribble) is made, we are immediately flowing into our half-court action.
The trigger that we will dive into in this post is a simple slot to slot pass made across the top of the key. This is my preferred trigger because:
Can be used with many concepts
Combined with a Cut or a Pass
The Slot to Slot Pass -
This concept fits best with Four Out Offenses which will utilize slot and corner spacing with their perimeter players.
We define the slot areas as the intersection of the lane lines and the "volleyball line". For courts that do not have a volleyball line, we use the NBA three-point line as the descriptor.
High & Wide:
We want these two players in the slot to be "high & wide" so that a hard, crisp slot to slot pass will be able to maximize our cutting/screening once it is completed. The more that we can drag the defenders outside of the three-point line the more of an advantage we will create with our initial action.
Pass & Cut Options -
Making the slot to slot pass followed by a "gap creating cut" is a great way to segway into dribble drive action. Coaches can choose to make this an automatic cut or give players a number of options to choose from once the pass is made. Either option can work, but we want to train players that once that pass is made, and the cut is completed we are then looking to attack the gap that was created.
The "45 Cut" -
The trigger here is that every time a slot to slot pass is made the passer makes a 45 cut to the ball side corner.
This cut should be made through the FT Line. I typically say that the cut needs to be made just inside of the paint.
"Get a Piece of Paint"
The other teaching point is that the cut needs to be made below the X4 defender. You do not want to let that defender get underneath your cut.
Attacking the Gap:
This cut has now created a nice double gap that the basketball can attack. Timing is the name of the game, and we want to get our defender to hesitate with dealing with the cut and defending our dribble attack from the slot.
"Fan Action" -
The trigger option here is that once the slot to slot pass is made the passer cuts to the strong side corner - pushing the player occupying the corner (2) to the opposite side of the floor.
The only real teaching point I would mention here is that this is a great option to help combat switching. If defenders are switching that "45 Cut" we mentioned above, then we can mix in this option as a way to keep defenses honest. I would also encourage players to have a hand signal to wave that corner player through.
Once again we have created a nice double gap to attack. We are looking to drive the slot and get to the rim, but if help comes we want to teach players the Drop and Quick Pitch options that they will have in those scenarios.
Pass & Cut into Point Series -
For those people who are looking to incorporate Princeton style movements than using the slot to slot trigger to Point Series is a great option. Just like above, we are getting the slot to slot pass to initiate,, then conducting a "Rub Cut" into the center of the lane. This cut is going to create an opening for the 5 Man to flash to the elbow to get us into Point Action.
Check Out my plan on how to incorporate Princeton Point Series.
If you are interested in the options available here take a look at this thread:
Pass & Screen Options -
If you are more of a pass and screen coach there are a number of options that you can flow into out of the slot to slot trigger. Through the use of single-down screens, flare screens, and staggered screens you can build an effective motion offense with the use of the slot to slot trigger. I do not recommend that you try to incorporate all of these elements or give players all of these options at once, but choosing one of these options can be an effective way to flow into offense.
A. Single Down Screen -
In this action, we are hunting the slot to slot pass and then requiring the passer to conduct a single down screen on the same side of the floor.
Screener & Cutter:
We would like our screener to position himself around the elbow and have his feet positioned to face the corner.
Once the screener is in position it is up to the cutter to make the appropriate cut. Based on the actions of his defender he can cut the rim (curl, back door) or cut towards the ball (straight, out).
Whichever choice the cutter makes the screener should make the opposite. We often refer to this action as "second cutting". For example, if the cutter curls to the rim then the screener should pop out towards the ball. If the cutter goes to the ball then the screener should dive to the rim.
If you're interested in this action check out our Four Out Motion Post.
B. Staggered Screen -
To use the staggered screen we are actually seeking a slot-slot-wing swing as opposed to the simple slot to slot pass.
For both of the slot players, we are asking them to perform a single down screen after their pass. The result is that we have a staggered screen set for a cutter coming from the corner.
Just as with the single down screen we are looking for the passers to set a down screen around the elbow and FT Line area. They should be facing the corner, preparing themselves to second cut off of the cutter's decision.
In general, I am a fan of reducing the cutter's options a bit. For example, instead of giving the cutter four different options to choose from I decided to allow them two; straight cut or basket cut. If the defender goes under the screens then we are straight cutting for the ball. If the defender fights through the screen then we are breaking it off towards the rim. Just as we discussed with the Single Down Screen we are looking for our screeners to "Second Cut" after the cutter makes his choice.
If you are interested in this action check out Motion Strong Action Post.
Chin Action -
This is an action I used as more of a set play than a base offense. I liked it as a counter to the slot-slot-wing swing pass that we used with motion strong action.
However, for those coaches who like the Princeton actions the slot to slot pass is a way to trigger Chin Action.
Just as with the stagger action we are looking for the slot-slot-wing swing pass. In this case, there is no automatic cut or screen immediately - it is more of a fake screen and dive cut.
Dive & Backside Action:
The primary scoring option with Chin ACtion is the dive from the original passer. If that dive is not open for a score then we looking to set a backside staggered screen to occupy the help defenders.
If you are interested in this action then check out our Motion Strong Variations post.
Concluding Thoughts -
The focus of this post was on developing a "trigger" concept that helps your players transition seamlessly into half-court offense. If you are a team that uses a lot of set plays then perhaps this is something that you don't really need. However, for those coaches who want to play more conceptually and have fewer moments where the coach is micromanaging movement then this is an excellent addition. Whether your team is dribble-drive-centric or more screening and cutting centric the slot to slot pass is an entry that can trigger that initial create action.
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