The point guard position is a tricky one. Point guards come in many different varieties. The days of only having pass first point guards are long gone. Many point guards at all levels are more score first oriented and that’s ok. Having the ability to score isn’t such a bad thing, but you need to be able to keep your teammates involved and have the ball move from one side of the court to another. On a consistent basis. Young guards have many issues having the ball stay with them too long enabling the defense to rest and have their teammates stand around watching them dribble the basketball. There needs to be a combination of getting your shots as well as putting the ball in your teammates hands where they are in position to help your team score.
In this blog post we will breakdown some of the ways a point guard can increase the number of open shots their teammates get. At the end of the blog post there will be a video embedded showing point guards getting their teammates the ball in all different areas.
1. YOU NEED TO FORCE 2 DEFENDERS TO GUARD 1 PLAYER
Seems easy enough right? You’d be surprised how hard it is to get players to live in this philosophy. When the ball is in the middle of the floor with both wings closely guarded and posts fronted its hard to do anything really. If you give the ball to one of your wings their defenders are up on them and in good position. If you play with two spot up shooters that can’t take anyone off the dribble it’s hard for them to get freed up to get their shots off. Same with your post players, you may have bigs that cant really score on the block but can catch around the basket and finish in the paint when given the ball within two feet of the basket. Ideally you want to force help defenders to leave their men and open up players for open shots.
2. SPACING IS THE KEY
No offense can run effectively if you have everyone bunched around together. It enables defenders to guard multiple players easier and gives them the ability to stop the ball and be in position to help. Coaches share different philosophies on offensive basketball, but my rule of thumb is if I am a wing player and don’t have the basketball I want to be spaced out behind the three point line. We will go over long close outs later in the post but being further away from the basket allows shooters and drivers better opportunities when spaced out behind the line and at least 7-8 feet away from each other. The more spaced out you are on offense the more spread out and weaker your opponents on defense is.
3. DON’T WASTE TIME DRIBBLING NOWHERE MOVE NORTH TO SOUTH NOT EAST TO WEST.
The more time you waste dribbling the ball and not going anywhere with it the easier it is for defenders to rest and focus on stopping the ball. I don’t mind dribbling the clock out a the end of quarters , halves, and games but not in the flow of the game. I just think the more you move the weaker the defense that is trying to stop you is. Wen you have the ball in your hands try to make a play and force that defender guarding your best shooter to rotate off of them to help stopping your penetration and enabling your best shooter to get a shot. If that defender doesn’t leave then it’s better for you to turn the corner and have an opportunity to get in the paint and score. I don’t mind putting the ball through your legs and crossover in the right situation. Players that make direct drives and make their play early and hard are tough players to guard. Remember the more time you just dribble and not go anywhere the deeper into the shot clock you get and the easier you make it on the defense to stop you. Just keep that in mind, direct drives are much tougher to defend then just standing in one spot not going anywhere.
4. FORCE DEFENDERS INTO LONG CLOSEOUTS.
Like I mentioned before if your teammate’s defender is 3 feet off of them when they do catch the ball that defender is in good position. What I want my players to have happen is force that defender to be 10-12 feet off of them and need to sprint out to get to the ball. The longer defenders have to sprint out at their man the more out of control the are as well as the more space the offensive player has to operate with. So how do you make this happen? Well there is a couple of ways that this happens. The first way is to penetrate to the basket and force that defender to make a decision to either help off and stop the ball or stay with their man and allow the ball to get in the paint. The second is to move the ball from one side of the court to another quickly. Usually when the ball is on ball side the weak side usually is in the paint helping on any penetration, when the ball is skipped they sprint out to get to their men. Both instances the defense is forced to go from good on the ball defensive position to sprinting to multiple spots on the floor. In most cases this benefits the offensive team when the defense is forced to move.
I think forcing defenders to closeout long gives both spot up shooters and drivers the upper hand on their defenders. If you have a good shooter obviously you want to have as much space as possible to get their shot off. For slashers that aren’t as good shooters but can finish in the lane or From 8-10 feet they also would benefit from space. When that defender has to be in position to help and sprint out at the perimeter to stop the ball their momentum is carrying them forward giving the offensive player the edge as they now can drive hard on the catch forcing the defender to shift their weight from going frontwards to backwards. Again this doesn’t happen without good ball movement and direct drives.
5. DON’T FORGET YOUR POST PLAYERS
OK so we covered the wing players and how penetration helps them, so how do we get our post players involved? Well again you need to understand where all defensive rotations come from. When you have the ball up top, on the wing, or in the corner you need to have an understanding of where defenders are coming from. Again, you need to force post defenders to leave their men to stop the ball. When the ball is up top and you make a direct drive to the basket usually that either post player will step up to try to get a charge this is where you drop the ball off to them for a duck in score. Again, we talk about how to get average to below average post players involved and duck ins to the paint is a major way to do this. When you have the ball on the wing or in a side screen and roll situation again with a direct drive to the basket force that weak side post defender to rotate to stop the ball and enabling that weak side offensive post to duck in for a quick drop off to them for a score in the paint. On side screen and roll same thing force that weak side post player to have to bump the roll man and that weak side wing to. Guard your big man until that other big can sprint to the paint and bump him out. For a couple of seconds you have a major mismatch for a duck in score for that post player.
You can also get jump shooting big men the ball on Wong penetration forcing them to relocate opposite of where you drive, so if you drive to the baseline force them to relocate to the elbow, if you go middle force them to relocate to the short corner for a jumper. In the wing drive situation if you have the post relocate force their defender to either follow them and allow the ball handler an open lane to the basket or step up halo on the penetration but have that offensive post player an open 12-15 foot jumper.
6. WEAK SIDE IS A VERY IMPORTANT OPTION
You always here that coaches want the ball to go from one side of the court to another. The reason for this is to force the defenders to work harder and move as well as if gives players better opportunities to score. Also force that weak side defender to rotate from covering his man close on the wing to sprinting to the paint to help when the ball is on the other side of the floor on the wing and the have to sprint out to closeout to their man again. the more the defense has to work the better it is for you. Also when there is penetration have drivers and shooters open that are spaced out giving them the opportunity for open shots or drives on long closeouts.
My first year with Kobe that was a major point I made in all of my pre game pre game preparation reports was that on his wing drives Trevor Ariza could have major effect on the game because when Kobe would drive from the wing Trevor’s man would always rotate to help leaving him open in the corner for an uncontested shot or could drive when his man would closeout long at him. Trevor was a big factor and option for the Lakers in their championship in 2008-2009 because of his on the ball defense, transition play, and his ability to spot up and drive. In my opinion Trevor wasn’t a good shooter when his defender played him close or a great isolation player where he can just isolate on the wing and make plays. How he can be best utilized is by spacing out past the three point line and spot up for en shots and drives when his defender closes out long. Again, Trevor isn’t a 1st or 2nd option for a team, but can play a big role on a team with a great wing player and/or post player to force defenders to double off of him.
7. GET THE BALL IN THE PAINT
This is a very important part of being a good offensive team. Get the ball in the paint and force defenders to collapse. It’s very hard to pass the ball along the perimeter and be an efficient team. The more the ball stays on the perimeter the more long jumpshots your team takes, the fewer free throw attempts your team gets, and the less the defense moves.
There are many advantages of getting the ball in the paint, again it all starts with direct drives.
You don’t have to be a prototypical pass first point guard to be a good setup player. Just understand that to make your role players effective the ball needs to get in the paint and force defenders to help off and closeout long. This game isn’t that complicated and can be quite simple when played right. Thank you for your time and again don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com
Below is an edit of guards penetrating and passing to teammates. pay attention how defenders rotate to their penetration.