(video via: Half Court Hoops & The Basketball Playbook)
Utah Jazz Coach Quin Snyder, one of my personal favorite basketball minds to study, is one of those individuals who is a consistent innovator. He uses foundational sets and sprinkles in his own personal stash of nuance, which elevates an offense, like Utah’s, from decent to high-powered.
This particular action, “Flex-Chicago-Flare,” which is rooted in the traditional “Horns” look (two players in the corner, two on the elbows and the point guard on top with the ball) is an incredibly difficult action to stop due to it inherently creates off the ball. Here are the three reasons why this action is music to my ears.
1) The Setup:
Right as #3 Ricky Rubio enters the ball to #33 Ekpe Udoh, pause the video and take a look at where the Snyder has put his players to begin the set. Utah starts this action with #10 Alec Burks and #22 Thabo Sefolosha in the corners, while Udoh and #5 Rodney Hood setup on the elbows, which I like to refer to as the “killzone”. This is where the genius of Snyder begins by placing Hood, who is not a traditional big-man like Udoh, at this spot on the floor. It is so common to see a “Horns” action begin with two guards or wings in the corners, while two post players plop down at the elbows. But, by Snyder putting an athletic wing, like Hood, at the elbow Heat defender Josh Richardson is now in a foreign defensive position. This will come back to show itself later in the clip.
2) “Flex” and Explode Out:
A “flex” action, which involves a baseline cut over, or under a back-screen, is difficult to guard when it is performed with pace and explosion pre and post-screen. As soon as Rubio enters the ball to Udoh, the point guard cuts hard off of Hood’s back-screen to set a “flex” screen for Sefolosha. Once Sefolosha cuts off his hip, Rubio explodes out and comes off a Udoh down-screen to receive the dribble handoff (DHO) from Hood, which is labeled “Chicago” in this specific situation. The separation Rubio creates from his defender, which could amount to even a split second, does wonders for setting up the finale to this basketball masterpiece.
3) Misdirection Mania (a.k.a. the “Flare Screen”):
Rubio now has the ball. The question is what happens next? Because Rubio came off the screen with such pace, Heat defenders Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson get mixed up for just a second on whether to switch or stay with their assignments. This brief mixup allows Hood, who was in the DHO with Rubio, to sprint off a “flare screen” and get a pre-game warm-up three-pointer from the left-wing. The misdirection happened so fast and was so well executed that Udoh did not even make contact on his screen, yet the action worked with ease.
Hope you enjoyed this quick breakdown of “Flex-Chicago-Flare.” What are some other ways your team could cater this action to its personnel? Let me know in the comments below.