Video Playbook: Staggered Screens

By Randy Sherman

Video Playbook: Staggered Screens – A look across the basketball landscape at options and actions stemming from the staggered down screen.

The staggered down screen is a staple in many motion offenses across the basketball landscape. In this video playbook we will look at college, NBA and International teams using the staggered down screen.

Staggered Screens: Coaching Points

Before we dive into video here are a few pointers for teaching staggered screens:

  • The screening angle on a staggered down screen is the same as a single down screen – butt to the top of the circle
  • The cutter must attack the space between themselves and their defender to setup the cut
  • Screeners should jumpstop into the screen with a “double wide” base
  • The second screen should be “unlike” the cutter; this reduces the likelihood of the defense switching onto the cutter
  • The two screeners should not be in line. If the cutter’s defender goes under the screens, the second screener should be lower than the first. If the cutter’s defender goes over the screens, the second screener should be outside the first (see diagrams below).

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There are two ways to initiate the staggered screen – pass reversal and dribble entry. In pass reversal, players make two passes to the second side then get into the stagger (diagram below).

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In lieu of pass reversal, trailing players can simply stagger away without the passes to the second side. This is the dribble entry (diagram below).

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The cutter has four options when using the staggered screen. These can be taught as reads or “forced” cuts. See the diagrams below.


In Frame 1 above, the cutter makes a straight cut using both screens for a catch-and-shoot, catch-and-go or getting to the next phase of the offense. Below is a video of the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets using the staggered screens and straight cuts in Motion Strong.

In Frame 2 above, the cutter long curls – curls around the second screen. As a read, the cutter would long curl when the defender trails. Below are some video examples of the Bucks using the long curl off the stagger in Motion Strong.

In Frame 3 above, the cutter short curls the stagger. A short curl is when the cutter curls the first screen and curls into the paint. As a read the cutter could “take the first curl” when trailed or it could be a forced curl that leads to another action.

The reject (Frame 4 above) is a back cut the cutter would make when overplayed or “top-locked.” The cutter sets up the screen, sticks his/her foot in the ground and rejects both screens by cutting backdoor. The reject could be a forced cut as well.

NCAA Staggers: Davidson and Tennessee

Staggered screens are a big part the Davidson Wildcats’ offense. Coach Bob McKillop’s teams are know for having one of the more aesthetically pleasing (and hard to defend) offenses in college basketball.

The Wildcats use staggered screens upon ball reversal as part of their secondary break. Often the cutter takes the short curl and the second screener “screens the screener” with a down screen for the first screener.

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In the video below, check out Davidson using staggered screens and scoring on short curls and by screening the screener.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. The Tennessee Volunteers use staggered screens, short curls and screen-the-screener in their near-perfect facsimile of Davidson’s offense. Check it out in the video below.

NBA: Motion Strong

The San Antonio Spurs offense in their peak years was a thing of beauty. One component of their attack was Motion Strong. As we have seen above, the influence of the Spurs pervades the league and teams such as the Bucks and Nets use Motion Strong with five-out spacing.

The signature feature of Motion Strong is the stagger. Below, the Nets use pass reversal to enter Motion Strong and get into the staggers.

And here the Nets use the dribble entry to get into Motion Strong.

Dribble ISO

With two screeners and a cutter in the staggered screen, three would-be help defenders are occupied. This presents an excellent time to attack the rim.

In the short video above, you see Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe attack the defense while potential helpers are involved in the screening action.

Bonus Content

Continue the conversation:

Check Out our Motion Strong Playbook which features a full offensive arsenal and is packed with staggered screens!

For help with practice planning and implementation of an early offense attack featuring Motion Strong and Point Series or other offensive elements for finding, using and creating offensive advantages please contact us and/or join our community for basketball coaches!

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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.
March 2, 2019: Lamonte Turner #1 of the Tennessee Volunteers shoots the ball during the NCAA basketball game between the University of Tennessee Volunteers and the University of Kentucky Wildcats at Thompson Boling Arena in Knoxville TN Tim Gangloff/CSM(Credit Image: © Tim Gangloff/CSM via ZUMA Wire)

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