The Best Offense & Basketball Plays Ever

If your looking to win a basketball championship or win more games, then it is essential to think about this...

Over the years I have been sent various basketball offenses or set plays by my co-coaches or friends to get my opinion. Sometimes it is the latest and greatest fad, or it just might be an offense they found and want my opinion on it. The first thing I always say is “How do you think this will work in the semi-finals or finals?” Every single thing I do in basketball is based on this concept or question.

Coaches and in general the every day person perceive things differently in life. Information or a visual can be presented and what I see might be different than what you see, and this is also true in the basketball world. Our perceptions or even our values are based on our upbringing and experiences in life. Our experiences help form how we perceive things and then act upon them.

Let’s take a quick second and go back in time to my experience while playing college basketball. As a player I had no idea how lucky I was to be playing for a coach with 30+ years of coaching experience. He understood that to win at the highest level we had to become one of the best defensive teams, this included both individual and team defense. To make a long story short, I was the defensive stopper on the team. I guarded all the best scorers on the opposing team. At one point in the season our team was ranked 13th in the nation for defense. My experiences as a player set the foundation for me as a coach on how to perceive what is a good offense or set.

Why does it matter to visualize the semi or finals? It is there you will be facing the best defenders and the best defenses. Does history support my theory? Well in the past year Baylor won the Division 1 National Championship, and if you were not aware Baylor’s Davion Mitchell won the “National Defensive Player of the Year.” In the NBA Milwaukee won the NBA championship while having two of the best defenders in the NBA: Jrue Holiday and PJ Tucker. Kevin Durant stated “Jrue Holiday is solidified as NBA’s best defender.”

Early in my coaching career I was surprised by the number of coaches who lacked defensive knowledge (disrupting flow, controlling momentum, rotations, and other concepts). I was unaware that everyone perceives things differently through their experiences and that my perception was founded on a coach who put defensive as a priority.

Understanding how the best individual players defend will help you with player development. When I have been asked to help improve a NBA player, I do not hesitate at the opportunity. I have and will continue to improve every player at the highest level, because all players have defensive gaps.

The same holds true when coaching, not every coach has had the experiences to help them form the foundation of a top defensive team.

Instead of studying the best offensive players and the best offensive teams, you may actually learn more about offense when you study defense.

Concepts to Consider

There are probably a good eight to ten concepts that coaches will have varying views on. One of them is: Is it better to force a defender baseline or to the middle where there is more help? We all know a majority of coaches played or coached with a coach who would yell “Don’t give up the baseline.”. However, when I was talking with former Boston Celtics assistant coach Kevin Eastman, he said to me “Would you rather have Steve Nash going down the middle or the sideline?” I am guessing his perception of that situation was based on some Steve Nash experiences :)

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Stay the course and persevere - Coach Sullivan