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The Rim is King

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

To have an efficient offense we must be able to find a way to get shots at the rim in a Half Court setting.

Listening to Jordan Sperber's Solving Basketball Podcast I came across a sound bite that got me thinking. The guest on the episode, Ben Falk from Cleaning the Glass, was talking about his experience as a High School coach. While discussing his own offensive philosophy Falk commented, "The Rim is King. The whole thing is still figuring out how to get shots at the rim." In the course of the conversation they touched a common dilemma for high school coaches; how do you get shots at the rim when your shooting is subpar and teams are willing to sag off?

At this point, it would seem to be common knowledge that the most efficient shots in basketball are shots at the rim, shots from the three-point line, and free throws. Amongst those three shots getting to the rim is not only the most efficient, but has the added benefit of commonly earning trips to the free-throw line as well. Like many programs, we have made a concerted effort over the last four seasons to create an offensive approach that provides our players with opportunities for these high-efficiency shots. For the sake of this blog post, we are going to focus specifically on getting those shots at the rim in the Half Court.

"The Rim is King. The Whole thing is still figuring out how to get shots at the rim." - Ben Falk

A Closer Look at the Numbers -

In preparation for this blog post, I put together some shot chart data from the past four seasons. 2016-17 was the first season that we began using Hudl, and thus the first season where we have detailed statistical shot chart analysis. I wanted to take a look at a few specific stats like shot location and the PPS (Points Per Shot) that was earned in those locations. Just to be clear about the statistics, I wanted to keep the focus of this post solely on creating shots at the rim in the half-court but due to limitations in charting these numbers do not make any distinction between transition and half-court offense.

Before diving into the results of the statistics I wanted to mention that we have made a concerted effort over the past four seasons to increase the percentage of our shots that come from the deep paint and three-point line areas of the floor. The use of four out spacing and specific actions emphasizing our players' strengths; such as post-ups, driving lanes, and scoring cuts, have been the vehicles by which we have done this. In general, I think our players have really bought into this concept and the statistical evidence has supported this belief.

Diagram 1: Visual representation of a Hudl Shot Chart, the basis on how the statistical table below was organized.

  • Deep Paint - the two boxes closest to the rim.

  • Upper Paint - the two boxes just inside the free-throw line.

  • Mid Range - the five boxes outside of the paint, but inside the three-point line.

  • Three-Point - the five boxes outside of the three-point line.

Diagram 2: Statistical data for the last four season organized by A) Shot Location, B) Percentage of Shots Per Location, and C) Points Per Shot.

Shot Location & Percentage of Shot -

The Shot Location and Percentage of Shots Per Location charts display our consistent efforts to get more of our shots in these high-efficiency locations. I attribute some of the slight variations year to year on personnel and X & O based changes, but overall I do see evidence that we are getting the shots that we are preaching in practice.

  • 3FGA - Our 3 FGA has increased in volume and percentage for four years

  • Mid Range - Less than (20%) of our shots are in the Upper Paint & Mid Range

  • Mid Range - The 2016-17 percentage are mostly post-ups outside the deep paint

  • Deep Paint - The goal is to be close to (50%) in this area, we took a dip in 2019-20

Points Per Shot -

The results of the Points Per Shot diagram is the driving force behind this entire blog post. The results show that there is a clear pecking order in the value of shot location. The numbers show that the three-point shot is more valuable than the midrange, but shots at the rim remain "the king".

  1. PPS - Deep Paint (1.06), Upper Paint (.69), Mid Range (.60), Three-Point Line (.79)

  2. 3FG - The 2018-19 was a bit of an outlier from the Three-Point Line

  3. Mid Range - Consistently represent the lowest value shot in the game

Using the Post Up -

One great way to get shots at the rim is to find ways to get deep post touches for a skilled big man. Heading into the 2016-17 season we had an especially talented post player returning for his senior season. One of the things I wanted to do in that offseason was to investigate how to give him even more space in the post by using a 4 Out,1 In alignment. I thought using a Four Out Motion System would allow him to get cleaner looks at the rim, while also allowing our perimeter players to take advantage of other high-efficiency shots at the three-point line.

Motion - Post Up -

Duck In:

The key for the post player is timing his "duck in" as the ball changes sides of the floor.

  • Front - Look for Lob

  • Behind - Duck In

Occupy Help:

When any slot to slot pass is made the passer initiates a down screen. This action can be a scoring action - or simply a way to occupy the help defense.

DHO Entry:

One pressure release we used quite often is the slot to wing DHO. For the post player, this often gave the receiver of the pass (2) a clean entry in the post.

Creating Driving Lanes -

For those teams without the advantage of a dominant post player creating driving lanes for your perimeter players to get shots at the rim is the next best thing. As we graduated our dominant post player after the 2016-17 season I thought we had to make an adjustment that shifted the shots at the rim towards our guards. Trying to take advantage of our personnel's strengths we kept our four out spacing but moved away from the screening based Motion System and towards a dribble-drive oriented attack. The most common action we used to get shots at the rim was a Blur Screen on slot to slot passes.

Motion - Blur Screen -

Blur Screen Action:

Our basic rule was that after every slot to slot pass the passer would make a "45 Cut" (or Blur Screen) to the ball side corner.

Driving Gaps:

We taught our corner players (2) to hold their position in order to allow the basketball to attack the newly opened gap.

In this scenario we now have two opportunities to create shots at the rim:

  • 1 - For the Driver

  • 2 - For the 5 Man on Drop Passes

Motion Curls & Backdoors -

Another great way to get shots at the rim is to incorporate the use of curls and backdoors in your offense. In the 2016-17 season, we incorporated Curls and Backdoors into our Four Out Motion system, and in 2019-20 we did this as part of our Motion Strong Action. In both scenarios, we used the curl and back door cuts as options that cutters could use off of down screens.

Curls & Back Door Cuts -


The curl and back door cuts generally came off of down screens.

1 - Slot to Slot Pass is Made

2 - Passer Sets Down Screen

3 - Cutter Sets Up his Cut


For each cut, there needs to be a teaching point that players are using to determine their cut.

Curl -

  • If the defender is following your cut over the screen(s).

Back Door -

  • If the defender acts aggressively to cut you off from your cut.

Concluding Thoughts -

In a perfect world, we would get out in transition and score baskets at the rim before the defense was ever set. On those occasions in which we are forced to play in the half-court, we need to design opportunities for our players to get shots at the rim. As we saw in the data tables those shots at the rim (1.06 average) are so much more valuable than any other shot that we should probably be building our offense around how we will get them. There are many ways to do this, but factors like personnel, skill sets, and spacing always seem to be the things that I take into account.

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