Beneath the Screen: Upside Down

As I wrote in my post on Tuesday, the Hornets have been breaking out an inverted offense somewhat frequently over the past handful of games. I’m going to illustrate how this creates offense in today’s post. If you want a deeper breakdown of how this works, especially against the Lakers, click here. To the Madistrator!


After bringing up the ball, Vasquez passes to Lopez then cuts down towards the baseline. This puts the Hornets two bigs (Lopez and Anderson) up top while the guards and wings line up on the baseline. This has been the basic formation and spacing for when the Hornets run inverted sets.

Lopez passes to Vasquez on the side and he uses his height to post up on Nash. As he goes up to shoot, Howard rotates over provide help defense. After he passes, Lopez immediately cuts to the basket uncovered.

Vasquez misses the shot but Lopez flies in uncovered for the rebound and put back. Had Lopez been underneath the basket he would have crowded Vasquez and allowed Howard to cover both of them. Instead, with the inverted spacing, it created a lane for Lopez to get the put back.
Let’s take a look at another play.

After Vasquez brings the ball up the court, Gordon immediately goes on a long cut. Lopez stays above the free throw line and Davis hangs pretty far away from the paint. While not exactly the formation as the play above, this one is notable for the fact no one is in the paint.

Vasquez pass the ball to Lopez and Davis comes down to set a screen for Gordon. This is where the inversion of the bigs is important. Look how far off Lopez Howard is playing. This is simply because Lopez isn’t a threat to score from just inside the 3-point line. When Gordon comes off the screen there will be no defender near him because Howard isn’t in position to play help defense.
Had this been a guard with the ball instead of a big, they would have played closer to the ball and Gordon wouldn’t have as much room as were about to see.

Lopez hands the ball to Gordon who is coming off the screen and then cuts down. Look at all the space Gordon has to shoot. This play was designed to use off ball movement and court positioning to create space for Gordon. And here it worked well.
The Hornets ran this offense to neutralize Howard on defense against the Wizards tonight with decent bigs in Nene and Okafor, I’m hoping they run more of it.
Beneath the Screen is a reoccurring series throughout the season run on Fridays. See past editions here.

6 responses to “Beneath the Screen: Upside Down”

  1. This is really good, so is the series.

    Have you ever seen how Jeff Duncan breaks down the Saints offense play by play? Do you ever do anything like that informally, that you could post for a game? I think it would be very interesting to see how many of Lopez’s points come from uncovered rebounds out of inverted offense or Vasquez posting up in the invert in tonight’s game.

    • I havent looked at how Duncan does it but I’ll try and take a look. I’ve been wanting to do a breakdown of how players score, and we have sites that track it to a certain degree, but I’ll see what I can do.

  2. Love your ‘Basketball Junkie” approach Jake!

    Lift the bigs to the elbows…forces defensive bigs in a “read postion”…divee or cut wings or guard to the bottom of the box….def big must now decide what to do….#rule “if your man leaves you in this situation ‘basket cut!”…open lane is there….fill the spot that was just vacated with another player…run to the spot…you will be open as initial moves force teams to think ” rotation defense”……review…a- lift…cut…read…dive…replace…ball movement and bingo!…keep up your good work Jake

    PS: in teaching this you want to describe the action using ONE word commands…cut…dive…replace ( or fill) swing etc…


  3. […] If you hate tanking well then Monty Williams is right with you tonight and I promise he’ll do everything he can to tank (see what I did there?) the Lakers’ playoff chances. We’ve seen Monty introduce new pieces to his offense as the season has gone on; recently, Monty has been putting it all together and, at times, the team has looked great offensively. Even when the team blew a 25 point lead against the Lakers a month ago, Monty Williams introduced an a tricky set which started out with a Horns formation before quickly switching to an inverted offense. […]

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