Read & React Offense: Engineered to Absorb Selfishness

In traditional basketball offenses, a selfish player can kill what the team is trying to accomplish. Ultimately, that player will force the offense to break down and lose five-player coordination. This means that traditional offenses are only as strong as the weakest link – a selfish player.

Even your trustworthy “team-player” can occasionally stray from the herd and do his or her own thing with the same results – a loss of teamwork.

This is not the case with the Read & React Offense. Layers 3, 4, 5, and 6 are engineered to absorb selfish player actions and turn them into opportunities.

Example 1: Selfish Player A (SPA) has the ball on the wing and decides not to attack or to pass, but instead, to dribble around the arc to the other wing. This action sends two cutters to the basket with a chance to score and the Read & React gives these two cutters chances to choose from the Next Best Action List: (Layers 7-16). This East-West dribbling action of SPA might have initiated a backscreen, post up, screen for the post, Pin Screen, staggered screen, etc, once the cutters get their feet in the lane (the Decision Box).

Of course, there’s filling action happening behind SPA, which forces the defense to change their positions.

Example 2: Selfish Player B (SPB) has the ball anywhere on the perimeter. SPB decides to drive right, even though there’s no advantage. Layer 4 moves all perimeter players one spot to their right – the opposite of defensive help and rotation. If the formation is 5 OUT, then one player winds up cutting to the hole (the corner position), effectively providing a pass threat on the basket. Others move into Natural Pitch positions, while one player moves in behind the ball as the Safety Valve. If there’s a post player involved, then Layer 5 slides the post out of the way, into pass receiving positions.

Example 3: Selfish Player C (SPC) decides he/she wants a ball-screen to help with getting to the goal. SPC backs up while dribbling (Layer 12 Reverse Dribble) pulling a post out to the perimeter to set a pick on the ball. Traditionally, this is a two-player game at best (a one player game if the ball handler is selfish). But, with the Read & React, the Reverse Dribble signals the other 3 players to get into position on the perimeter and Circle Move correctly (depending on which way the ball goes off the pick). This turns two-player action into 5-player-multi-option action that demands all 5 defenders deal with the ball, the movement of who they’re defending, and the movement of the entire offense. SPC has no choice in the matter. Anything SPC chooses winds up creating 5-player teamwork opportunities.

Of course, the Selfish Player might not pass the ball even if their teammates are open. The Selfish Player might still turn the ball over or take a bad shot by trying to beat 2, 3, or 4 defenders. But the Read & React will not break down into 1 ballhandler moving and 4 others standing and watching (it will generate 5-player movement engaging all 5 defenders every time the ball moves).

On the other end of the scale, though, what would the offense look like in the hands of a great player (especially a great ballhandler from the NBA or WNBA) surrounded with four seasoned Read & Reactors? What would a Jason Kidd, Kobi Bryant, Sue Bird, or Diana Taurasi do with the guaranteed spacing, slides, and movement of the Read & React? What would they do after they realize that the Read & React allows them to know where every teammate is going the moment they choose an action with the ball?

“Perchance to dream, ay, there’s the rub…”

5 comments

  1. Great article. The same could be said of an ignorant (as in lack of court and player awareness) Player as well as the new Player, who is still coming to terms with the Framework.

  2. Great point about the pros, how much better would offense be if all 5 players were moving instead of is or high ball-screen?

    • Yep – it’s all I think about. Watching our Olympic team makes me sad – not because they’re not good or well-coached or lacking effort, but because of how much better they would be in everything they chose to do had the Read & React operating around them.

      I actually fear that another national team will pick up the Read & React (perhaps next Olympics) and beat us with it. Hope not.

  3. Great article Rick.

    I think Jason Kidd would really excel as an orchestrator in the read and react offense. I think he would be an assist machine and his role would be to drive aggressively and often and get his teammates open shots. I imagine him doing a lot of north/south drives, baseline drives and dribble at’s to give his cutters, post sliders, circle movers and 90 degree/45 degree players (baseline drive adjustment) easy open shots.

    Kobe Bryant would have another interesting role in the R&R but as a scorer and go-to-guy on offense. Unlike Kidd who would drive to pass, Kobe would drive to score as often as possible whenever he sees a good opportunity to do it. His teammates could set him up for draft drives, he could dribble at draft drive. I think a lot of defenders would try do deny him the ball on the perimeter and he could score a lot on read line cuts. He’d definitely get a lot of points off front cutting and laker cutting. His teammates would help him score by dribbling at him, back screening him, post screens when he’s cutting, getting him the ball off multiple staggered screens.
    If he can’t score on a drive he can pass to his circle movers, post up and his teammates would look to pass back to him in the post. He would be great at choosing a Next Best Action – if he doesn’t get the ball back on a cut he can immediately post up and try to get the ball that way, or back screen his way to the ball.

    What a joy that would be to watch. I’ll keep dreaming.

    • This is why I like the read and react offense so much. No matter the level of player on the floor, you always but them in a successful position for total team offense. There is not a bad spot on the court when they run the offense correctly and react to every ball movement. You just continue to plug in your players and it runs like a well oiled machine.

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