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How to coach and teach the equal opportunity basketball offensive swing basketball plays (Part 1)

If I chose to recommend a total half-court basketball offense to a high school basketball coach, it would be the Backdoor Trap Offense. I choose this pattern because of the following reasons:
1. The simplicity of its pattern.
2. The great amount of player movement.
3. Shifting of player position gives it a complex appearance.
4. It offers a wide variety of options that players enjoy employing.


Opportunity Basketball half-court Offense Swing Play Diagram1Diagram 1 - Initial set-up

The "Opportunity Offense" may be set up on either side of the lane; however, I prefer the left side for right-handed pivot players (5). Getting into this formation, the pivot player (5) takes a mid-post position and the strong-side forward (4) takes a position one, or two, steps behind him. The forward should be allowed to adjust his position according to the circumstances. That is to move a step or two toward the sideline; however, he must always get behind (5) to setup the play.
Diagram 2 - Payer positions for the "Developing Opportunities" pattern.

In order to receive the ball from (2), the strong-side guard, the power forward (4) must free himself from his defender by faking a cut toward the basket, then swinging back over the post-player (5)shoulder-to-shoulder. At this point, (4) reads his defender. Against a man-to-man defense, one of four things will occur:
His defender won't follow him.
His defender will move over the top of (5).
Follow (4) through the screen.
X4 and X5 will switch.
The pass most important. (4) must receive the ball at he comes around (5), then turn and face the basket without using his dribble. His next move is determined by his defense. If his defender does not follow him out, he takes an unguarded high-percentage shot from where he is. It may surprise you how often this happens, especially if his defender is playing him loose and finds himself screened out of the play by (5) and (5)'s defender.

Opportunity Basketball half-court Offense Swing Play Diagram2
Opportunity Basketball half-court Offense Swing Play Diagram3Diagram 3 - The defender on (4), X4, has fought over the to of the screen. (4) drives to his left as (5) sets a screen on X4.

In most cases, (4)'s defender will fight through, or go over the top of (5). In these cases, (4) has two scoring opportunities:
He can flare-cut to the outside as shown in Diagram 4 to take the pass and a 3-point attempt.
(4) can react by driving to his left, assisted by a pick set by (5) as illustrated in Diagram 3.

This move is designed to force a switch between the two defensive players involved. If the switch is not made, (4) continues his drive for an easy layup. It is important to note that (5) must be prepared to set his pick in two ways. If X4 is in front of him, (5) uses a front pivot. If X4 is beside him, (5) uses a reverse pivot. In both cases, the right foot is his pivot foot.

I want to emphasize that these moves are reactions to the defense (called reading the defense) and must be practiced over and over until they become habits.

Diagram 4 - Flare-cut to the outside for a three-point attempt.

As he cuts shoulder to shoulder with (5), player (4) recognizes his defender is coming around the screen, shouts, "flare", as he cuts outside to receive a pass from (2). He squares-up and takes a 3-point shot.

Opportunity Basketball half-court Offense Swing Play Diagram4
Opportunity Basketball half-court Offense Swing Play Diagram5Diagram 5 - As (4) drives to his left, X4 and X5 switch. On the switch, (5) rolls to the basket, taking a pass from (4) and finishes the play with a score.

Let us assume that (5)'s pick is successful and (4) is driving to his left and X5 shifts to stop (4)'s drive to the basket, a move that the offense is trying to force. At the instant of switching, the defense is helpless as (5) rolls to the basket, takes a pass from (4) and sticks in a layup.

This pick-and-roll play is my first choice off the "Opportunity Offense" because if the defenders do their jobs, perfectly, our team scores. I recommend you make it a weapon in you offensive arsenal.

At every step of this "Opportunity Offense", the defense dictates our offensive options. For example, the defender guarding (5) may fake a switch and still guard (5). That is to take a step toward (4), extending a hand, but doesn't pick up (4) as we wanted him to do. In this case, (4) picks up his dribble and takes a shot from the short-corner.

Diagram 6 - If X4 reacts late and follows (4) through the screen, (4) can curl-cut around and down the middle.

The swing-man (4) must be prepared for one other possibility. That is a poor defensive reaction to his movement off the post-player (5). Should his defender follow him through the screen as he comes around for the ball, he shouts, "Curl!" and dribble-drives down the middle as illustrated in this diagram.

Should (4)'s drive down the middle force a switch by the defenders, (5) rolls automatically to the basket and the two-on-one play situation in Diagram 7 results.

Opportunity Basketball half-court Offense Swing Play Diagram6
Opportunity Basketball half-court Offense Swing Play Diagram7Diagram 7 - Defender X5 switches after (4) starts his drive down the middle. (5) rolls to the basket creating a two-on-one situation.

The success of our "Opportunity Offense" depends on the weak-side forward (3) keeping his defender busy, otherwise he will sag-off and interfere with the play. To counter this, tell the weak-side forward to interchange with the weak-side guard (1) or move to the free throw line whenever (4) starts a drive to the outside. In running any pattern offense it is always necessary for players, not directly involved with the ball, to have assignments that keeps them and their defender clear of the attacking area.

Although it is possible for either the strong-side guard (2), or weakside guard (1) to make the entry pass to "Opportunity Offense" swing man (4), as he breaks around (5), we know from experience a pass from (2) is more desirable. In most of today's defenses, the man on (2) will sag-off making a pass from (1) to (4) most difficult and dangerous. Of course, (2)'s man often sags even when (2) has the ball; therefore, it is important that (2) clear the area after passing the ball to (4)

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