NBA Spotlight: Horns Series (Part 1)

NBA Spotlight: Horns Series (Part 1)

Of all of the popular trends that have emerged in recent history, few are more popular than the horns set play alignment. It’s popularity is due to the tremendous versatility and spacing that aren’t always possible when compared to box or 1-4 high sets. Your program will be able to use horns either as a quick hitting compliment to your motion principles or you may use it for an entire set play offense. At the NBA level teams use horns to teach basic concepts to their teams which are mostly universal concepts. We will break up 3 entires into horns and illustrate how to spread the defense thin.


—-High Post/Elbow Pass Entry
Our first entry is getting the ball to the high post or elbow. If they are unable to hold position for an easy pass, they may also cross screen for each other as well.

• Flex
At some point or another, a coach has run across the flex offense which is known for its simplicity and screening actions. A key point with screening is to ensure that the screeners back is facing where you want the player to cut towards.

• Singles (One)
As the name implies, following the entry pass the other players involved set either down screens or back screens for each other. From here the players are able to freelance with backdoor cuts, pick and rolls or post ups.

• Stagger (Two)
This time we will pass and screen away from the ball. This leads to the basic sideline pick and roll with a shooter sprinting off of a stagger screen on the Weakside.

—–Dribble Entry
When the elbow pass is denied, our guard can dribble to the wing. From here our corner player will receive a zipper screen from our post. A zipper screen is a specific down screen for a player to get the ball in the lane line or slot area. You may also like the shuffle screen action which is a screen from one player to our post at the opposite elbow. It’s very difficult to defend this since teams won’t want to switch a smaller defender in this situation.
• Zipper Down


• Zipper Up


• Zipper Shuffle (Screen the Screener)


—–Ballscreen Entry
Finally our team may look to initiate the offense with a ball screen. As always the goal here is for the guard to run his defender into the screen while we wait to see which defender helps. It’s important to note that I believe ball screens are for the screener first and everyone else secondarily. The roll to the rim is what forces defenses to sink in which will allow the entire team to have an opportunity to make a play.
• Lift
In this set, the screener always pops while the opposite player rolls to seal at the front of the rim. If there isn’t a high low post entry available on the reversal, it flows into a dribble handoff for a pick and roll or pop.

• 91
This is an easy action that keeps the rock in your main ball handlers hands. With consecutive screens set on the ball, the defender has to chase the offensive player twice which opens up the floor for penetration.

• Double
Our last set is effective against man to man and 23 zone defenses. Following the dribble handoff, a double ball screen is set where the first screener rolls while the 2nd one pops. The lead guard may either stay in the same side corner or sprint to the opposite corner once they have given up the ball. Against 23 zones, the later is very effective and should force a slower post player to run towards the corner out of position.


That does it for NBA Spotlight: Horns Series (Part 1)! Feel free to contact me via twitter @KJ_the_scout, or via email at and see how this concept can benefit your program. Also keep a look for part 2 which will illustrate examples from several NBA teams!

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