Offensive Elements: Take and Twist Concepts

By Randy Sherman

Take and Twist Concepts, Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs, Radius Athletics, FastModel Sports

The “Take” and “Twist” concepts are offensive elements designed to create an advantage as demonstrated here by Pau Gasol and the San Antonio Spurs. 

As the lines blur between International basketball and the NBA it can no longer be said with the same level of distinction that there is an “international” style of play and an “American” style of play. Players and coaches from around the world are flooding the NBA with new skill sets and new outlooks on offense. NBA coaches learn from International coaches and vice versa. It is hard to tell who is stealing from whom!

The San Antonio Spurs have been ahead of this curve for some time. Their roster and coaching staff has long had an international flavor and so too has their playbook. In this piece we’ll look at two of The Four T’s of International Offense – the “Take” and the “Twist” – that may not be so “international” anymore!

Video: San Antonio Spurs – “TAKES” ft. Pau Gasol


The first of the Four T’s is the Take. It is in the dribble handoff family, but features a couple of subtle differences. Often called a handbacka guard passes to a big on the perimeter and bursts into a cut to immediately “take” the ball back.

The deliverer of the handoff gets a wide base and “puts the ball on a platter” for the guard to “take.” Sprinting into the cut can create a small advantage. Often the deliverer of the handoff is stationary or makes a single dribble. Instead of dribbling into the handoff like a traditional DHO, the guard cuts to them.


If the defender (X1) trails the cut, Player 1 now has an advantage and penetrates the defense after taking the ball. Player 5 then rolls just as in pick-and-roll. From a Five-Out alignment a “take” can behave just like Spread Ball Screen.


The Twist is a ball screen reaction. The purpose of a ball screen is to create an advantage for either the ball handler, the screener or a player outside the screen. The “twist” is a ball screen reaction used when the on-ball defender goes under the ball screen and no advantage is present. In other words, it is a rescreen.


The on-ball defender goes under the ball screen in the clip above. Pau Gasol and Danny Green read that Jimmy Butler has slid under the screen thus neutralizing any advantage the ball screen intended to create. Gasol twists and Green brings it back over the screen; the improved angle forces Butler over the screen.


If there is no advantage, we must create one. Here that means “twisting” into a rescreen as Gasol does in the video clip above. Below is another example of twisting by Gasol in FIBA play for Spain.


It is not until Gasol twists and rescreens that two defenders are drawn to the ball creating the advantage. Twisting allows the screener to improve the screening angle and induce the on-ball defender into going over the screen.


It is easy to see in the diagrams below how these two elements can be combined. Begin with a take, Player 1 “taking” the ball from Player 5.


The on-ball defender goes under the “take” and neutralizes the advantage when Player 1 takes the ball (Frame 1). Player 5 reacts by “twisting” into a ball screen (Frame 2) and the “take” morphs into pick-and-roll. Below is an example of Take + Twist from sideline out of bounds featuring the Spanish club Iberostar Tenerife.


These take and twist concepts would fit within the #FindUseCreate offensive style as “create” tactics. The purpose of actions such as the Take and Twist is to create an advantage that can be used, maintained and increased and turned into an uncontested shot or a score at the rim.

The “Four T’s” prominent in International offense as well as the NBA as demonstrated by the Gasol and the Spurs, exemplifie simple concepts combined with simple reads players and teams can use to disorganize the defense. After that moment, the decisions of the players lead to scores.

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Randy Sherman is the owner and founder of Radius Athletics - a basketball coaching consulting firm - where he consults with basketball coaches at all levels on coaching philosophy, practice planning, Xs & Os and teaching a conceptual style of basketball. While a head basketball coach at the the interscholastic level, Sherman's teams won 197 games in nine seasons.
February 2, 2018 – San Antonio, TX, Estados Unidos – Pau Gasol (L) of the San Antonio Spurs and Ryan Anderson of the Houston Rockets during an NBA basketball game,, held in San Antonio, USA, on 01 February 2018. (Credit Image: © Darren Abate/EFE via ZUMA Press)

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