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High Post Offense, Part 1: Corner Split

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An introduction to some of the actions that the Kings will run this year

Kimani Okearah

Under Dave Joerger, the Sacramento Kings are reforming how their offense is structured. Instead of the Dribble-Drive Offense under George Karl that emphasized isolation slashing from the perimeter, the Kings will work much of the offense through the high post. Somewhere, Rick Adelman is smiling; this is the same setup that the Kings were so successful with in the early 2000s with Chris Webber and Vlade Divac.

There are a lot of actions you can run out of the high post. My personal favorite is called the “corner split.” Here’s the basic setup:

Corner Split

The ball is entered into a big at the high post, which is at one of the elbows inside of the three point line. Here, Tolliver has the ball. Meanwhile, two cutters execute what is called a “split cut” in the strong-side corner. A split cut is when two players move in sync with eachother, reading how the defense is playing and cutting accordingly. This creates good shots for the offense in a variety of different ways.

The split cut demands that all three players involved be on the same page and all make the same read. Its difficult to teach and implement as a coach, but its also tough to defend because its something the defense can’t scout and anticipate. A lot of teams have a play in their playbook that sets up the same way, but usually the two cutters’ movement pre-scripted. Very few teams use the split cut in its pure read-and-react form. One of those teams is the Warriors, who prefer to get the ball into the low post and run the split cut at the elbow.

The elbow split is something Steve Kerr took right out of the Triangle offense. The Princeton-inspired Kings will invert that setup for the corner split, clearing space near the basket for cuts. Elston Turner, a longtime assistant of Adelman’s, is an assistant for the Kings again this year, providing a direct link to that heritage.

The offense has to be modernized a bit for 2016 with some motion to disguise the corner split action, but the mechanics of the play are so similar to the old Adelman Kings.

We have very little footage of how the Kings are running the offense so far in preseason (seriously, how is this not broadcasted in some way yet), but we can see how the split cuts work by looking at old footage and how Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic worked with eachother by reading the defense. In this clip, the read that Bibby makes is identical to the read that Lawson made in the above clip.

There is a different reaction for every way the defense plays the situation.

From the preseason highlights I could find, the Kings have freedom to make reads based on the defense and attack accordingly in the same way.

This early in preseason, the team doesn’t have the familiarity with the reads and eachother to make effective cuts every time. But even this early on, the Kings have shown a nice flow into other actions. The ball doesn’t just die.

Like I said, this is one of my favorite actions in basketball. It takes skill, smarts, and teamwork to execute correctly, and a team familiar with it gets great shots more often than not. It was a big part of Adelman’s corner offense during the franchise’s most successful run in the Sacramento era. I’m excited to see it back.

Stay tuned for more breakdowns of the kinds of plays the Kings will run this season.