NBA Spotlight: The Hammer Action

NBA Spotlight: The Hammer Action

Every season, the three point shoot seems to be emphasized more and more.
The spacing that today’s shooters are capable of manifesting, allows for all players to be able to either launch barrages from the perimeter or to use that same threat to get to the basket to make plays for others. This week, we will look at the very popular hammer action which is a flare screen set from the wing to the corner with a driver attacking the baseline. A popular staple of the Spurs, it is an action that every team has in their arsenal today with very effective variations. This action can be ran out of literally any formation or inbounds situation. We will view several examples of current NBA teams using the Hammer Action for a score. A key note is that the screener involved in the hammer action may either slip to the rim for a layup or step out to the wing for a 3 when the defense knows where the first shooter is going.

—Minnesota Timberwolves Hammer Turn
This set works best during your secondary break or if the team is playing full court man to man defense. Our guard pushes the ball to attack on the run. Our trail SPRINTS to set a wing ball screen but stops and turns the screen towards the baseline at the last moment. It’s important for the screener to turn their back to where they want the driver to attack. Once penetration has taken place, we set our hammer screen for our shooter going to the corner. Our screener will slip to the basket afterwards.


—Washington Wizards Leak Hammer
Here the Wizards do a great job of bringing attention away from all Star point guard john wall with a screen the screener action before allowing him to attack and put his court vision on display.


— Detroit Pistons Floppy Hammer
Stan Van Gundy’s squad does a really good job using this floppy set to get a great shot. If you haven’t been able to do so, please take a look at our floppy baseline out of bounds article! After the initial screening action, the driver receives two ballscreens to attack the baseline. With three players involved here, it’s an easy read for our hammer action. What makes this lethal is that the defender of our shooter has to run through multiple screens and then be allowed to relax before another screen blindsides them.


—New York Knicks Hammer Trail
The boys in the big apple use this version of the hammer to attack early in the shot clock. After the initial downscreen and pitch action, we look to attack with a live dribble for our best driver to make a play for others.


— Utah Jazz Punch Hammer
This play involves using your post player’s gravity to suck in the defense. Boris Diaw has always been an incredible facilitator and this set puts that on full display.


— San Antonio Spurs Zipper Flow Hammer
The five man movement that takes place before this hammer action is an excellent example of misdirection since multiple screens are set to bring the defense away from our shooter.


— Boston Celtics Horns Hammer Throwback

Along with the hammer action, Brad Stevens uses what he calls a throwback action in which the driver will pivot and throw the ball back to the wing where a shooter should be positioned. This set is very problematic for the defense since the other four defenders are unable to help on the ball. When the guard rejects the screen, that player will turn And screen for the player at the top of the key before slipping to the basket. By having two guards involved in the hammer action, to gives that screener the ability to pop out to the three point line for a shot as well.


That does it for NBA Spotlight: The Hammer Action! Feel free to contact me via twitter @KJ_the_scout, or via email at and see how this concept can benefit your program.

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