Playing Off the Post

By Cody Toppert

April 27, 2015 - MARC GASOL (33) looks to pass. The Portland Trail Blazers play the Memphis Grizzlies at the Moda Center on April 27, 2015. (Credit Image: � David Blair/ZUMA Wire)

In the game of basketball getting the ball to the post can create a plethora of opportunities everywhere on the court.  One of the biggest lost arts is post entry passing.  The majority of this issue is because the guards love to dominate the scoring and play making.  Unfortunately today, even at the highest levels, many players just do not understand how to play off the post.  Perimeter players’ will often times stand and spectate assuming the big is going to attempt to score.  Standing will in fact force the Bigs’ hand and he will have to play one on one to avoid a shot clock violation or 3 second call.  It is vital that as a coach we have a philosophy behind our movements succeeding a post entry pass.  Below I will examine some of the options, and their benefits for guards after passing to the post.  And afterwards we will take a look at several drill series that can hammer home exactly how to play off the post.

Hit and Space

  • The most basic thing a player can do after passing to the post is space.  There are two options when looking to space and the player can either drop corner or slide to the slot.  This strategy can be particularly beneficial for teams that have great shooters making the entry pass.  The defender of the player who hit the post will most likely look to dig.  The better the shooter the shorter the dig.  If for some reason a poor defender takes one step to close to the big, he has an easy to locate kick out to the slot of the corner for an open shot.  This kick out can also lead to an excellent opportunity for a repost for the big to gain even deep position.
  • No that we know what the entry man is doing the remaining players must be aware of the weak side philosophy.   This is where many players tend to stand and there is a distinct difference between spacing and standing.  It is always imperative to send a cutter down the lane.  This can come from the opposite slot man or even the weak side wing.  The better the athlete the more effective the cut (if that athlete will cut hard and cut to score).  Should the slot man cut he will clear to weak side corner and the remaining perimeter players will “clock” towards the ball to fill the necessary positions (slot, wing, corner).
  • The weak side big man can then play off the post was well be deciding to flash to the high post or elbow, or mirror the move of the player with the ball.  If the player with the ball decides to attack the baseline, this should send the weak side post to the “dots” for a possible big to big drop off and dunk (as well as an offensive rebound).  Should the player with the ball work to the middle, the weak side big should time and attack the baseline or weak side block area (prime location for an offensive rebound).

Hit and Cut

  • Again one of the most common and perhaps best things a player can do after hitting the post is to cut through.  Hopefully our bigs have been listening about not posting at or below the block, thus opening the possibilities of cutting baseline (below the block) or middle (through the elbow).  On these cuts it is important to cut hard and cut to score, thus making it easy to catch a defender falling asleep and turning his head to follow the post pass or if the opposing team has elected to double the post.
  • Once again weak side principles are also very important in this and as the entry passer cuts through team movement is a must.  “Clocking up to fill wing and slot is the best place to start.  The cuter will settle in the weak side corer and now our big man has the best space to operate.  This strategy is particularly uses when we have a scoring big that can go get a bucket on an isolation situation.  One thing we do not want to do is cross the midline or longitude line.  Especially at the NBA or NBA D-League level we will subsequently allow the defender of that man to be able to stunt in closer proximity to our big.  Essentially we bring over another defender and reduce the chances for said defender to be susceptible to defensive three seconds.
  • The weak side big man can again flash to the high post or elbow but he can also remain in the duck in area as well.   One great thing about a baseline move from the post man with a mirror from the weak side big is the ability to open up the drift o corner three point line pass.  This movement creates a receiver.

Hit and Split

  • The final option we have is to hit and split.  What that means is pass to the post and set a guard-to-guard screen on the perimeter.  This can be particularly deadly for a team with a lot of shooters as we can create both receivers on the perimeter and cutters to the basket.  After making the pass the guard will then look to screen for the next available guard, usually taking place at the top of the key or slot area.  From there the man using the screen will decide to use to space or cut back door, a tight curl option is also available.  Simply put the screener will do the opposite of what the user does.  If the user cuts backdoor the screener will pop back to the ball.  If the user comes off the screen, the screener becomes out cutter.  The beauty of this action is that it can take advantage of a lazy switch (via the screener slip) or a lack of communication as the defenders tend to ball watch to the post.  What this also subsequently does is open the space for the big man to go to work and occupy the weak side defense, preventing double teams or good helping and stunting situations.  After one of the players cuts he will settle in the weak side corner and the user or pop back guy will be available as an outlet (possibly leading to a shot or a repost).
  • Weak side principles remain the same for the remaining perimeter players and it is best for the weak side big to recognize and remain in the duck in area until the split has taken place and the cutter has cleared the lane.

Wing Work, Playing Off the Post

  • In the following video we can see a drill series for guards to breakdown and emphasize their movement, both as the post passer and the weak side perimeter.  This drill series is perfect during guar/big breakdowns during practice.  We also have a drill series that can incorporate the guards and the bigs, as well as just the bigs.  In this particular video the bigs can be “filling their tool box” with low post moves, while the perimeter players learn not to pass and spectate the action.
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Cody Toppert
Cody Toppert is a former standout player at Cornell University, who played 8 years professionally and now serves as Assistant Coach/Offensive Coordinator for the RGV Vipers, NBA D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets. The Vipers are D-League leaders in many offensive categories, including 113.7 Offensive Rating and 54.5 eFG%.
Cody Toppert

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April 27, 2015 – MARC GASOL (33) looks to pass. The Portland Trail Blazers play the Memphis Grizzlies at the Moda Center on April 27, 2015. (Credit Image: � David Blair/ZUMA Wire)
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