Spurs Offense Breakdown

By John Leonzo


The San Antonio Spurs run one of the most prolific offenses in the NBA. My favorite thing about the Spurs offense is that it does not breakdown once the defense takes them out of a set play. Their offense is not fragile. Because the offense is built on concepts that can be applied to the set plays, the players are ready and equipped to read and react to how the defense chooses to guard their actions. Many of the ideas that underpin this video breakdown are not mine, but have been taken from both Brian McCormick and Chris Oliver.

Small Advantage/Big Advantage

The overall idea of the offense is to disorganize the defense. This is done by using small individual advantages, in turn leading to larger team advantages. By making quick reads right on the catch, as well as using various 2 man and 3 man actions, the offense is able to create great shots.

The reads on the catch that the players make area as follows:

  • If you have space between you and the defender, shoot it
  • If the defender is running hard at you, drive it hard at them.
  • If the defender closes out well, pass the ball and create action off the ball via a basket cut or an off ball screen

By making a quick decision, the player takes the small advantage they have (being open on the catch) and turns it into a larger team advantage.

Shot Selection 

Brian McCormick has a great acronym to teach shot selection. I took the liberty to use it in this video in order to emphasize how it can enhance player decision making. The acronym for shot selection that Brian created is ROB.

  • R = Range. Are you in range to shoot it?
  • O = Open. Are you open enough to shoot the ball?
  • B = Balance. Are you on balance and ready to shoot the ball?

If the player can answer “yes” to all 3 of those questions, the odds are that they are taking a very high percentage shot.

2 and 3 Man Actions

The 2 Man actions that are used to distort the defense in the Spurs offense are:

  • On-Ball Screen
  • Drive and Kick
  • Give and Go
  • Dribble Handoff

All of these actions create an advantage for the offense. When these actions are coupled with making a decision on the catch, a larger advantage can be created.

The 3 Man actions that are used to distort the defense in the Spurs offense are:

  • On-Ball Screen
  • Off-Ball Screen
  • Drive and Kick
  • Dribble Handoff

These actions also help disorganize the defense as well. By using these actions purposefully and teaching the players how to make decisions and read the defense, you can create many large opportunities for scoring.

I hope that you find the video to be helpful. Please feel free to reach out to me on twitter (@john_leonzo) or via email (j.leonzo1@gmail.com) if there is anything that I can do to help!


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John Leonzo

John Leonzo is the CEO of John Leonzo Basketball where he seeks to provide the highest quality training for both players and coaches. Through on the court training with players and online courses for coaches, John is able to make an impact in all the areas of the game.

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Oct. 14, 2015 – Atlanta, GA, USA – The San Antonio Spurs’ KAWHI LEONARD (2) makes a steal against the Atlanta Hawks’ JEFF TEAGUE during the first half in a preseason game at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The Hawks won 100-86 (Credit Image: � Curtis Compton/TNS via ZUMA Wire)

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