FastModel Friday: Fred Hoiberg Sets for Jimmy Butler

By Gibson Pyper

Something that has always fascinated me and I have been curious about is set plays for star players or big time scorers. Whether it is LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Dirk Nowitzki, the plays that are designed and drawn up will always be a little bit different. That is the exact situation Fred Hoiberg and Jimmy Butler have to navigate and we will examine how Hoiberg is utilizing the athleticism and growing physicality that Butler can exploit as an explosive shooting guard in the NBA. These sets can be useful to coaches at all levels who have athletes that they are looking to get lobs, or to exploit a mismatch at 2-3 guard positions.

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First we will look at some quick hitters that will include backdoor, lob and designed shooting sets to get Butler easy scores.

“Zip Backdoor”

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This is exactly like the action the San Antonio Spurs run. Because the Chicago Bulls like to post up Pau Gasol and he is an excellent passer, this set works well. Typically designed after a time out, Butler cuts off Gasol who receives the pass in the post. Giving Butler time to clear the cut is key, so the timing of the lob/backdoor cut can be perfect.

“AI Backdoor”

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Another nice after time out set, starting with Butler on the wing and both bigs screen for him toward the sweet spot or the center at the top of the key. After Butler clears the second screen, Gasol opens up an receives the pass form the point guard. Butler times this perfect in the video and drives hard off his outside leg and sprints to the rim for a lob.

One of the things that Hoiberg has used alot this year is Butler playing out of the elbow in the Horns Formation. Utilizing Butler at one elbow and Gasol at the other and the outside shooting of Taj Gibson to provide some spacing, the sets that Hoiberg runs can be creative.

“Horns Smash”

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This is a simple enough set, the ball is entered to Gasol at the elbow and the point guard sets a quick screen for Butler to pop out and receive a pitch or longer hand off to catch and shoot.

“Horns Overplay”

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Typically after Horns Smash is run, or if several plays for Butler at the elbow have been run the Bulls like to counter with this overplay backdoor set. Butler at the elbow takes one step toward Gasol/point guard and spins off his defender who is overplaying the pass.

“Turn 5”

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This is a set that in my opinion only works at the pro or NBA level. This is a post entry and a designed hand off back to Butler from Gasol in the post for a shot or drive to the rim. The reason I beleive this is a professional set is because of the spacing the pros can play in and the skill to be able to hand off back to the player for a score.

“Wiper (Late Game)”

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Late in games when the Bulls are trailing or in need of a 3 point shot, they run this action for Butler. Butler sets a ballscreen for the point guard on the wing and then cuts off a flare screen from the trailing big (think 21 action). After the point guard clears the ballscreen he attacks baseline as a decoy, the big fakes chasing the point guard for a ballscreen and turns to rescreen Butler cutting back to the ball.

NOTE: Boise State ran a nice counter to this action for a 5 man who can shoot.

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“Pitch Lob”

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My good friend Zak Boisvert made a great Pitch Series video of Hoiberg’s pitch action. This is an option off this series in which the opposite corner empties out and cuts ballside, and Butler receives a backscreen for a lob. We saw this action at Iowa State and it has continued into the NBA with the Bulls as well.

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“Weak Reverse”


A great counter out of the Spurs Motion Weak, utilizing Butler as the screener for the big down low. After the cross screen, which most of the time Butler’s man will show or help on the cross screen, Butler then seals his man in the post.

These are the main sets that Fred Hoiberg has used for Jimmy Butler, but designed Isolations and Post Up sets are included in the video breakdown that I chose not to include here. Unless you coach talented players like Butler who has an insanely great work ethic to become the player he is, normally isolation sets are not designed. I hope you take away a couple of these actions for your team or athletes to create easier scoring opportunities. As always if you have thoughts or recommendations for #FastModelFriday you can suggest them on twitter @HalfCourtHoops or @FastModel!



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Creator/Owner of & half court hoops youtube channel. I love NBA & NCAA X's & O's and look to help coaches everywhere!

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