September 24, 2018 • OffenseWinning HoopsXs and Os

‘Ram screens’ can confuse opposing defenses

by John Kimble, contributing writer

The evolution of man offenses has not only come with different types of ball screens, but it also modified the traditional locations that ball screens are set along with the action that follows.

When some of these offenses combine pre- and post-screening action in a continuous movement of an offense, defenses have a more difficult task ahead of them. Using “ram screens” — initially screening the ball-screener — moves that screener and their defender, making the action more difficult to guard. To further complicate things for the defense, the movement of the ball-screener after setting the screen varies by establishing a primary or secondary scorer in different locations.

I want to demonstrate different quick-hitting plays and entries that incorporate action that screens the ball-screener with different types of post ball-screening action. These entries also capitalize on all five players’ offensive skills by putting each in positions to maximize their skills. If these entries and plays do not produce the desired shot, the action positions all five players into the proper spot-ups for the coach’s designated continuity or motion offense to continue the second phase of attack.

DIAGRAM 1: Play one. This play starts from the horns set. 3 and 2 can vary their types of Iverson cuts, making the initial action more unpredictable and difficult to defend. 1 also has the option of making the first wing pass to either side of the floor. This play has 2 make the high Iverson cut over the top of 4 and 5 to the opposite side’s wing area, while 3 runs along the baseline before circling out to the opposite side’s wing area at the free-throw-line extended.

DIAGRAM 2: Play one. 1 passes to 2 on the left side of the floor after 2 brushes across the tops of screens by 4 and 5. 5 then cuts across the free-throw line to set a cross screen for 4, who breaks across the free-throw line toward 2. After 5 screens for 2 and then 4, 5 quickly steps out to backscreen for 1, who flare-cuts to the new weak-side wing area.

DIAGRAM 3: Play one. 4 steps out to set an inside ball-screen for 2, who attacks the middle of the floor. After 2 rubs off of 4’s top shoulder, 4 can either face the ball as he rolls to the basket or make a lob cut to the basket. If 2 turns down the pass to 4, he continues dribbling towards the double twisted ball screen set by 5 and 3. After 2 dribble-scrapes off of 5’s top shoulder to the opposite side of the floor, 3 slips the ball screen and flare cuts to the new weak-side deep corner, either pulling the defender with him or looking for 2’s skip pass.

5 slips the ball screen and steps out to the new weak-side extended high post area outside of the arc, while 1 drifts to the new ball-side corner. This action spreads out the thin and weakened defense to further isolate 4 in the lane. If no shots are taken, players are now in the proper four-out, one-in spot-ups for the second wave to begin.

DIAGRAM 4: Play two. The next play begins in the four-down set. 3 and 2 must determine which player makes the high Iverson cut and which runs the baseline across the lane to the opposite side’s wing area.

DIAGRAM 5: Play two. 1 can make the pass to either wing, but in this example passes to 3 on the right side of the floor. 1 breaks down to set a small-on-big diagonal downscreen for 5 to flash to the new ball-side high post, with 1 out to the weak-side deep corner area. The new ball-side mid-post player (4) pops out to the new ball-side deep corner, and 2 rotates to the weak-side extended high post area beyond the arc. This isolates 5 in the lane as they cut to the ball-side high post.

DIAGRAM 6: Play two. If 3 turns down the pass to the flashing 5, 5 continues to set a big-on-small inside ball screen for 3 to dribble-scrape off of to the middle of the floor. After 3 breaks contact with 5’s top shoulder, 5 can roll through the lane or rim-run to the basket and look for 3’s lob pass. If no shots are taken, players are now in the proper four-out, one-in spot-ups.

DIAGRAM 7: Play three. The next play is run from the three-over set. This example puts the strong side on the left, with 2 making an Iverson cut over the top of 5 and 4 to the opposite side’s wing area. After 1 makes the wing pass to 2, 1 flare-cuts to the new weak-side wing area. 4 then cuts across the lane to set a big-on-small downscreen for 3 to flash toward the ball at the new ball-side high post. After setting the screen, 4 then reverses their direction and flashes back to the new ball-side block. 5 steps out to the new weak-side extended high-post area outside of the arc. This overloads the defense and isolates 4 and 3 on the interior for high-percentage shots. 1, 5 and 2 are all outside of the 3-point line.

DIAGRAM 8: Play three. If those inside shots are rejected, 4 stretches the defense by popping out to the deep corner, and 3 steps out to set an inside ball-screen for 2. 2 dribble-scrapes off of 3’s top shoulder and attacks toward the middle of the floor, with 5 screening for 1 to break up outside of the arc as another scoring threat. After 2 breaks contact with 3, 3 inverts the perimeter defender by rolling hard through the lane or rim-running to the basket for 2’s lob pass. With 5, 1, 4 and 2 outside of the 3-point line, 3 has not only inverted their defender but also has isolated him in an unfamiliar position. If no shots are created, all players are now in the proper four-out, one-in spot-ups.

Each of these plays has players initially screen the designated ball-screener, who subsequently screens a perimeter player. Because these entries are initiated from different sets, have three different pre-screeners and three different ball-screeners, each presents a high degree of unpredictability to defenses.

John Kimble coached basketball for 20 years in Illinois and Florida, accumulating more than 340 wins. He has authored five coaching books, 90 articles and created 28 coaching videos. He can be found at