In today's post we will look at the play called "Loop."
"Loop" begins when the ball handler dribbles towards the strong-side wing. This action keys:
- The strong-side wing to "loop" up to the top
- The trailer to fan away and head down towards the weak-side block.
The ball handler then passes the ball to the strong-side wing.
Players in this offense are all taught to cut back door anytime the defense denies.
Here, the strong-side wing, Danny Green, is able to draw a foul by cutting back door while being denied.
Once the strong-side wing has the ball up top:
- The trailer moves down (trailer can then set a down screen for the weak-side wing)
- The post player sets a back pick for the ball handler
From here, it's up to the players to decide what kind of action they want to run: single-doubles, staggered doubles, floppy, many options are possible.
Here Gary Neal receives a back pick from the post man Tiago Splitter. Neal continues on through a double screen set by weak-side wing Danny Green and trailer Matt Bonner. Bonner's defender is reluctant to help off the deadly three point shooter, so Shawn Marion is sucked in to help on Neal's drive, resulting in a wide open catch and shoot three by the strong-side wing James Anderson.
In the next clip we will see another double screen:
Parker draws all five defenders off the double and Duncan easily shoots over the much smaller Steve Nash.
Parker's defender is already behind after the back pick set by Duncan. Kawhi Leonard's man switches onto Parker during the double screen leaving no one on Leonard. After setting his screen, Kawhi continues to the other side of the floor but misses the wide open corner three.
Here we see the weak-side wing screen for the ball handler underneath the basket:
DeJuan Blair sets a good back pick for Manu Ginobili. On the pass to Leonard up top, Green heads down below the basket to set an additional screen for Ginobili. Manu's defender is left no room to chase through the screens and is forced to go over the top of Duncan and attempt to cut off the pass. Leonard and Ginobili both read the play and Kawhi zips the ball to the fading Manu for a wide open corner three. Unfortunately, Ginobili is unable to convert.
In the next clip, we will see a similar floppy style action:
Again, the weak-side wing heads under the basket as Danny Green loops up top to receive the ball. Rajon Rondo is caught by Bonner's back pick and is further delayed by Ginobili's screen. Tim Duncan's defender is forced to switch on to Tony Parker. Parker smartly fakes a pass to draw Rondo back, leaving Duncan wide open with a foot in the paint. Duncan is able to get his shot off without even dribbling.
On the back pick, Boris Diaw's defender chooses to step off Diaw and deny the cutting Patrick Mills. Green passes to the open Diaw and Boris immediately attacks the middle of the lane off the catch. Diaw sucks in the defense and finds Mills for the spot up three.
- When the ball handler dribbles towards the strong-side wing, the "Loop" series is initiated. This keys:
- The strong-side wing to loop up top
- The ball handler to pass the ball up top to the strong-side wing
- The ball handler to cut off a back pick set by the post
- The trailer to come down to the opposite block
- From here the weak-side wing has a number of options: to curl off a down screen set by the trailer, to be a part of a double screen (along with the trailer) for the on coming ball handler, to cut underneath the basket and screen the ball handler there, and to continue on to receive a screen from the post. These actions can be mirrored on the other side of the floor where the ball handler and post man set doubles or the ball handler screens for the weak-side wing.
Because Popovich prepares his players to freely run the offense, players naturally learn about each other and develop a feel for their own strengths and weaknesses. Practice, preparation and coaching of fundamentals combined with the Spurs patient and selfless culture ensure that this freelancing style results in execution of high percentage shots. While this years Spurs are best known for their deadly spread pick and roll, their ability to move without the ball and properly read the defense gives them a versatility that is hard to for opposing defenses to prepare for.