Within every league, no matter the level, there is a certain number of points per game or PPG that significantly increase your chances of winning. For the past five rounds of Euroleague competition that number has been 85. Over the last 5 five rounds of competition there are four teams averaging 85 or more points, Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow, Zalgiris Kaunas, and Milano. CSKA Moscow is the only team of that group that averages more than 90 (93.4PPG) and as a result they have a record of 4-1 in their last five games. These teams share a combined record of 11-9, while this is not an impressive record, it is important to note that 8 of their 9 losses are from games in which they allowed the opponent an average of 91.6PPG and of the 9 losses only once did an opponent win and not score at least 85 points. Despite contrary belief, not playing defense is NOT a means to score more points, in fact defense can be a tool TO score more points, and win games while doing so, see CSKA Moscow. This article will discuss four general offensive concepts that each of the above-mentioned teams have excelled in over their last five games and as a result have posted average scores of over 85PPG. The charts included with the article depict averages in the last five games in categories in which directly affect offensive output and a short video showing these teams in action and how they’ve been able to score the ball using the four concepts I alluded to. A factor that I will not discuss below and cannot be seen in the video is that each of these four teams have had four players averaging double digit scoring, the San Antonio Spurs, and Golden State Warriors of the NBA exemplify strength in numbers as a playing style. This unselfish style of play keeps everyone involved and engaged, it also leads to high point totals.
Transition Offense- Defensive stops ending with a rebound and quick outlet, preferably a steal or a blocked shot are elements on the defensive end that lead directly to transition situations. While blocks and steals typically create the easiest transition opportunities, defensive rebounds happen more often, therefore it is important to force and create transition opportunities immediately following defensive rebounds. In the very moment the defensive team becomes the offense they are in an advantageous situation for good transition offense to occur. Whether its a 3 on 2, 2 on 1, or 5 on 5, the speed at which the team is able to get to the other end with the ball, and the decisions they make once they’ve crossed half court with ball are very important. Because the defense is most vulnerable during periods of transition the offensive team should be looking to attack the rim for a “Rim Attempt,” which will be discussed later in the article and if the rim attempt isn’t available, an OPEN jump shot should be the next option to look for. Nearly every coaching staff acknowledges the threat and strain of good transition offense with the emphasis placed on getting back on defense and/or only sending 1-2 guys to the offensive glass while the others retreat back on defense to try and minimize the opposing teams transition opportunities. In the video you’ll see good examples of how to turn stops on the defensive end into easy opportunities on the other end. Notice the pace and space at which the offensive team attacks the other end of the floor as well what decisions are made that lead to the given shot taken.
Assists & Play Making- Another offensive concept that contributes to increased scoring is passing and play making. Theoretically, ball movement and downhill drives lead to open shot opportunities, most times to open shooters behind the arc. Whether you’re aiming for 85 or 105, efficiency is always a priority. The more “easy” baskets you’re able to score the better chance you have at reaching your PPG goal, whatever the goal is. Ball movement is the kryptonite to good defense, ball and body movement is the death to good defense. The trickle down affects an assist has on the offensive team as well as defensive team is almost unmatched to any other one single stat of the game. If your team is generating a number of assists a lot can be said about your team. Most importantly it suggests that you’re a hard team to defend and you’re an unselfish team. Each of the four teams mentioned in this article average 18APG or more. This means nearly half and possibly more of their point totals are created through unselfish team play. It is also a fact that more than most shots made from an assisted pass are open looks at the bucket. As a coach the best you can hope for other than a made shot is an open look at the basket. You’ll also find that teams with high assist averages are also among the highest “Pace” leaders because the pass is faster than the dribble.
Playing with Pace- Playing with pace is the most important concept to high point production and it might be the most misunderstood as well. It is a misconception to believe that playing with pace means coming down jacking up a bad shot just because it’s within the first seven seconds of the shot clock. This is not the case. While it has been proven by research that shooting within the first seven seconds is the time frame in which scoring is most probable, good shots may be created after the first seven seconds into the shot clock as well, the video will demonstrate some good examples of pace after the first seven seconds. Instead, pace is more about playing with a certain tempo and since of urgency, making quick decisions, not over dribbling, making hard meaningful cuts, and sprinting the floor in transition. Each of the four teams mentioned have played with a pace average between 72 and 75, this type of pace forces defenses to always be on their toes and always working. It can really wear a team down defensively. In addition to these benefits, good pace creates good energy for your team not just offensively, but defensively as well, in my experience players have also enjoyed playing at a fast pace. Outside of transition, pace may be created through secondary sets and quick hitters. Opposing teams will try to dictate and impose the pace most favorable to them, it is our job as coaches to counteract the will of the opponent with our own.
Rim Attempts- Finally, but not to be taken lightly is rim attempts and attacking the rim. First, a “Rim Attempt” is any shot taken at or inside the charge circle. Aside from rim attempts being an extremely high percentage shot under almost every circumstance, this is where most fouls are created, thus leading to FREE THROWS. Free throws are another critical component of reaching the almighty 85-point total. Each of the afore mentioned teams have attempted at least 18 free throws in the last five outings with Zalgiris Kaunas leading the bunch with a blistering average of 28.4 free throws over the last five Euroleague games. In addition to free throw opportunities getting fouled also puts the other team in foul trouble and your team in the bonus sooner. The more free throws the more points, if of course your guys can step up to the line and knock them down. Taking shots at the rim also forces the defense to cave in leaving guys open on the perimeter for open shots. In the FIBA game more than in today’s NBA game, plays are made from the post, in other words, the ball touches the post several times throughout the game. While these post touches have a tendency to slow the game down, the potential rim attempts they create outweigh the couple of seconds they take away from the pace of the game.
Scoring a lot of points doesn’t mean you aren’t playing defense, it just means you’re having more fun playing. Even in their losses these teams appear to be having fun, their body language is positive, they’re communicating on both ends of the floor, and celebrating each other’s success. The ultimate goal is to blend solid team defense with high level offensive energy and execution. The focus should lie in the things that facilitate points, such as free throw attempts, rim attempts, assists and pace. It is my opinion that if these four factors are the foundation of the offense you give yourself a fighting chance to reach high point totals, or totals that are higher than your opponent.