Golden State Warriors' Cutting Drills and Transition Defense

Cutting Drills and Offensive Setups

Ronald George Adams is an American basketball coach who is an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association and he was kind to share with us his cutting drills and transition defense tips. In this video he is going to show us how the Golden State Warriors are playing their offense and what is the general idea behind the movement, spacing, passing and shot opportunities that come out of that movement. We are going to see some easy cutting drills that this team use in order to create spacing for their offense.

Cutting drills

For the first cutting drill, we will need 4 players, one at the point, two on the wings and one in the corner. The drill starts with the point dribbling the ball towards the wing that has no player in the corner. That wing needs to do a back cut I a manner that he needs to take a step toward the ball and do a cut toward the basket. By stepping toward the ball, we want to deceive our defender and to make him think that it is going to be some two man action, and usually the defender is going to try and slip beneath the ball. This is the time that we want to make a cut and produce some easy buckets for the team.


After the cut, that player needs to run toward the corner and the other three players need to step up and fill the spots. It's all about the spacing, about the good floor geometry, about opening the court for the next guy. If the cut is not effective, the cutter needs to go into the corner and to drag his defender far from the ball, and the two other players need to make some space and to fill the empty spots.


Second cut.

The pass then goes on the point who now dribbles the ball to the opposite side (the side where we have a player in the corner). The player on the wing again makes a back cut towards the rim, and after that when he does not receive the pass, he needs to post up on the ball side.

Hand-off action.

The player in the corner needs to move towards the ball and he needs to play a hand-off action with the ball handler. The player with the ball needs to hop into a stance and he needs to give the ball to the player flying from the corner.

We know that this ball screen action can be played with the pass and then the screen, but this time we want to deliver the ball on the platter and make a hand-off screen action.

If there is any doubt how to play the hand-off action, click on the link below and see how Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets is constantly killing his opponents with this ball screen action.

Attacking the paint and opening the passing lane in the corner.

The guy coming off of the corner now dribbles the ball, towards the paint making the penetration toward the rim and the guy on the weak side slides down toward the opposing corner and makes himself open for a shot. As the defender of the player is most likely to help on the drive, sliding toward the corner is going to open a passing lane that will lead to the open shot.

Pop up for a shot.

The player that made a pass pops and makes himself available for a shot. As the action goes on, if there is no corner 3pt shot, there will be a drive penetration and this pop movement is going to produce passing option for the player with the ball.

At the end of the movement, players that are not doing the drill will pass the ball for everybody so all of them can take a shot.

Lets see the video.

As you are teaching basketball, getting your player's attention is a crucial part of the training process. Do you want to explain these cutting drills over and over again? I think not! As some of the drills can be done with only 3, 4 or 5 people on the court so you will have 10 people on the sideline doing something. It is crucial that they listen and watch what the first group is doing so when it is their turn, they can do the drill without much explanation.

Low post.

For out second option in this cutting action, after the hand-off ball screen part, the player with the ball is not going to penetrate toward the weak side of the action.
Instead, he is going to take the ball toward the wing, he is going to pass the ball to the low post and he is going to screen for the player in the corner.
On this screen, there are two options. As you can see in the picture, we have RED and BLACK options, and in the play, there have to be both colors. If one guy chose to take the RED option, the other needs to take the BLACK option.

Options after the entry pass.

On this screen, there are two options. As you can see in the picture, we have RED and BLACK options, and in the play, there have to be both colors. If one guy chose to take the RED option, the other needs to take the BLACK option.

Two players cant Cut to the basket at the same time because the paint gets crowded, and if both of the players stay outside and just wait for the shot, the offense is going to get static.

Now you can see how the Golden State Warriors are generating all those high percentage shots: the threes and the layups. This kind of movement is always giving them a good on floor geometry that additionally produce good passing and shot options.

As we can see in all of the actions that we had, the majority of the times we talk about back cut, back cut, back cut.
Do we know how to make a back cut so the defender buys it every time? If not, here is what needs to be done. A player needs to take two steps toward the ball, he needs to stop with the outside leg (if he is running toward left then it is the left leg, if the player is running right, it is his right leg), he needs to push off that leg and go the other way.

Left leg toward the ball.
Push in the different direction.

For our third action, we are going to start with the pick and roll action, that is going to continue with some passing and eventually it is going to lead us to the same action with some cuts and some shot opportunities.

Pick and roll/Ball screen action

So here how we start. We have a screen on the Point, we have a dribble penetration (with 2 dribbles) and we have a rolling player that dives with the back pivot. Everything more then two dribbles is going to shrink the court and to enable the player to pass the ball easy.

Back roll and a pass to the corner.

Then we have a pass to the rolling big, who we expect to have some resistance inside the paint. Usually, the help comes from the weak side corner so we know that our player is open. The problem here is how to evade the charge. Practice stopping and rolling with the anticipation on where the defense is going to stand and what are they going to do.

Pass to the low post.

From the corner, we can have a shot or we can pass the ball to the wing player who now have the opportunity to pass it inside on the low post. This is a familiar situation so the next play is going to be a screen for the player in the corner and a cut while the other player is opening for a shot.  

If we stop for a moment and think about the pick and roll, or ball screen action, and if you are running a system where the emphasis is on passing the ball and shooting 3 pt shots, then you will need to work with your big man so they will be able to find the open shooters.
We want it or not, the game has moved from outside the paint towards the three-point line so if you are not playing this way you will fall behind.

As you can see, the job of the big did not change, just their tendencies are a bit different. Now, it is expected of them not just to be big and strong, but to make plays and shoot threes just as the guards do.

If you want to learn more cutting drills, click on the link below:

Transition Defense

How to start a defensive transition?

The defensive transition starts with the rise of the shot. As the shooter is releasing the ball from the hand, the 4 guys on offense need to make adjustments and think about getting back on defense.
The first thing your players need to know is that the ones playing 1, 2 and 3 position need to start running toward the defensive end of the floor.
The getting back needs to be done in a sprint but what we want is to have an eye on the ball the whole time. It is crucial to know where the ball is because there may be a touchdown pass and the ball is going to fall 3 feet from your player and he is not going to see it.

As far as the big's are concerned, the rule is if they are inside the paint, they can attempt to make a rebound, but if not, they need to get back on defense.
I hear all the time that the big's need to crash the boards all the time. No, because if they are caught outside the paint, when the shot goes off they will have no time to be in the position to catch the ball. In time they try to fight their way toward the rim, the offense will catch the ball and they will start running the other way, so your big is going to be left behind and you will have fewer bodies to defend your own basket.

The majority of the time on coming back, the guards are going to get back first and they will step inside the paint. As the bigs are coming, at the moment they enter the paint, they will shove the guards out. So what happens? As your big guys are trailing, as they come up, the opposing guards are in a position to shoot, so your Center and Power Forward are defending on Point Guards and Shooting Guards. And in the paint, your guard is guarding a Center.
If your tall guys are skilled, you will have no problem. And this is not likely to happen unless you are in NBA.
You have to teach your guards to stop at the 3 point line, and you have to have 1 big diving inside the paint. I like to tell that the big that is closer to the center runs back immediately to protect the paint.

A plan for the defensive transition.

There are 3 keys, 3 problems that need to be solved in defensive transition:

1. Paint - You need to protect the paint first

2. The Problem - problem needs to be identified and defined: sometimes it is going to be a miss-match in the post, sometimes it is going to be a fast ball handler.

3. Picking up the people - No open shots, everybody needs to be guarded. It's better to have a miss match then to have an open shot opportunity.

The Conclusion

As you can see, even on the highest level of basketball, and we know that the Golden State Warriors are the best team to play the game in the last 5 years, even they are all about the basics of the game, the simple stuff and the perfection of it. Who would think that the players such as Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are getting their shots off of a simple back cut and a good pass? Yes, it is a right timed pass and the simple cut was done at the right time, perfectly executed screens and some good defense. these simple things done the right way are defining what needs to be done to be the best.

Use these cutting drills and transition defense tips to improve your basketball development program.

If you want to learn more about transition defense, click on the link below:

Dec 15, 2019 Viktor Sadikovic

Recent Posts