5-Out Offensive Concepts (HV Weekly 6/19/2020)

What 5-out teams like Alabama, Creighton, and Nebraska are running offensively.

Welcome back to the Hoop Vision Weekly!

(Or if you’re new around these parts, welcome aboard! We saw a big uptick in new HV Weekly subscribers this week, and we’re glad to have you here.)

Today we continue with part three of our four part series on offensive spacing.

In part one — The Space Race — we discussed the shift towards 5-out offenses and the tradeoffs between shooting and the other four factors.

In part two — Same Scheme, Different Shots — we discussed why good spacing is only as powerful as a player’s ability to draw defensive attention.

In today’s edition:

  • Concepts used by 5-out offenses like Alabama, Creighton and Nebraska

  • The value of moving in and out of space

  • What’s coming next week for HV+ subscribers

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5-Out Offensive Concepts

The benefits of 5-out offensive positioning are relatively easy to comprehend. When the paint is open, a ball handler has more room to drive — or an off-ball player has more room to cut.

Modern defenses have begun to prioritize taking away the three-point line, which has even further intensified the benefits an offense receives from perimeter spacing.

Naturally, the desire to maintain 5-out spacing leads to simpler offensive action. Without movement inside the arc, player interactions are often station-to-station — a quick pin down or a dribble handoff between the players next to each other.

Zoom Action

In a 5-out scheme, getting more than two players involved in one action can be more tricky. The most common example is Zoom action — with a player receiving a pin down from one teammate, immediately into a dribble handoff from another teammate.

Link: Purdue "Zoom" Action (HV+)

As it’s not limited to just 5-out offenses, Zoom is one of the hottest offensive trends in the sport — it’s being used as a flow action, a set, and even a continuity.

Below Creighton gets into 5-out and then lifts the corner player (#24 Ballock) up to initiate Zoom action with the slot player (#11 Zegarowski).

The close relative of Zoom is “Twist” action, in which misdirection is used to change the player that receives the dribble handoff.


“Hand-backs” — receiving a pass to then flip/handoff the ball back to the original passer — are another example of an action used to simultaneously incorporate three perimeter players. Most hand-backs take place in the middle of the court — with the two slot players and a top of the key screener all interacting.

By weaving with screens and handoffs in the middle of the court, the teams in the tweet above generate opportunities for shooters and a loosened defense for drivers and cutters.

Pin Downs and Staggers

More conventional off-ball screening actions — pin downs and staggers — are also used by 5-out offenses. Performing stagger screen with a wide open paint (to curl the basket) has been the bread and butter of Bob McKillop’s motion offense for years at Davidson.

Fred Hoiberg and his NBA-inspired offense ran a stagger into a UCLA screen during his first season at Nebraska.

Nate Oats — also in his first year at a new school — is another one of the more 5-out inclined high-major coaches. Here, Alabama blends initial 5-out spacing with a very traditional slice stagger set.

There is nothing particularly innovative about slice stagger action, but optimal spacing gives it a better chance to succeed.

Old Actions, New Spacing

Bruce Pearl and Auburn are one of the best examples of a team using old actions with new spacing.

Auburn runs flex action within their offense. But while the action is similar to the traditional (capital letters) Flex Offense, the nature of Pearl’s spread out version is extremely different. You won’t find Auburn players catching at the elbows or stringently adhering to the continuity.

Instead, Auburn spreads out and uses the screen-the-screener concepts to generate more analytically-friendly shots. Auburn has ranked in the top 100 in three-point attempt rate in all six years under Pearl.

The Value of Moving In and Out of Spacing

Proper spacing naturally makes things difficult for defenses to both help and recover, but motion can also serve a similar purpose.

If player movement is stagnant, defenses have the advantage of knowing exactly where their help should come from. Once player movement occurs, help responsibilities change.

One way perimeter-based offenses create help confusion are with exchanges. These exchanges, for example, are featured in Villanova’s flow offense.

Similar exchange concepts can also be performed from paint to perimeter — like here with FGCU lifting one big (changing help responsibilities), only to slip the other.

This past season, Dayton was a great example of a team able to balance spacing and movement. Dayton bigs would roll to the basket in ball screen and transition situations for seals and Hi-Lo passes. But after giving the cut or roll enough time to develop, the big would relocate out to the perimeter — freeing up the paint for the next action.

— — —

Our understanding of offensive spacing has come a very long way over the course of the last several decades.

With more high-major coaches embracing a 5-out style of play, it will be interesting to see how the actions and concepts evolve — particularly in an environment (contrasting the NBA) that tends to lack superstar wings capable of creating efficient offense on their own.

Next week for HV+ subscribers

The subject I receive the most questions about — by far — via Twitter DM and email is how to animate/annotate plays like you see in Hoop Vision videos. So by popular demand, we will address the subject with actual examples.

Next week, I’ll be recording another tutorial video showing the process step-by-step.

It will be part three in our recent series of tutorial videos for HV+ subscribers:

  1. Defensive accounting — measuring individual defense

  2. Charting offense — measuring offensive sets and schemes

  3. Play animation tutorial (coming next week)

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