By Fawzan Amer
5-Out offenses have become a commonplace, with a plethora of teams running it as their primary attack to flow into their sets within their designated offensive schemes. In general, 5-Out spacing offers the main advantage of clearing out the paint and allows for easier finishing and more complicated rotations for the defense to endure. Five-out systems are designed to space the floor, open the lane and create room for dribble penetration, cuts, and other actions intended to attack the basket. Jamahl Mosley has attempted to implement this scheme he’s seen run under Rick Carlisle in his tenure as defensive coordinator for the Dallas Mavericks. Mosley’s implementation of this scheme in Orlando allowed better opportunities to accelerate offense on a team that struggles to cash in from deep on a nightly basis.
5-Out Offense Spacing:
The Orlando Magic five-out spacing contains all offensive players on the floor starting outside the three-point line. There are 5 spots that must always be filled unless players are performing an action like screening or cutting.
The five spots are:
1. Left Corner
2. Left Wing
4. Right Wing
5. Right Corner
The problem 5-Out spacing presents is the Magic wanting to own the paint, the bread and butter of the offense consisting of a paint touch each trip down the floor. When Orlando generates a paint touch via the 5-out spacing, the most challenging task is the defensive rotations off it. Generally speaking, opposing big men are found “helping” which causes the other defender to help the helper. When this defensive breakdown occurs, it allows better looks for Magic players to capitalize on spray outs and kicks to the corner. Their natural spacing also causes defensive breakdowns, with cutters in early offense to get behind the defense and cut for easy backdoor layups.
One of the most common cuts in Orlando’s 5-Out offense is the “45” cut to space and punish the help defense. Using the 45-degree marker when a big or guard pick and pops, the opposite wing will cut backdoor behind the stunting help defender. An improved aspect of Orlando’s offense as the season has progressed was their intuition to exploit gaps and seams in the opposing defenses schemes with back-door, sideline, baseline and 45’ cuts. Constant off-ball movers and willing relocators to aid in generating buckets
In this scenario the offensive possession begins with all five players behind the three point line (5-out) with Gary Harris setting a ghost screen and rolling hard to the basket creating a switch. Isaiah Stewart "tags" Harris as he rolls but the spray-out pass from Franz Wagner to Paolo Banchero causes both Piston defenders to send a double team, leading to an extra pass for a wide open corner triple from Gary Harris.
Another simple read is coming out of a post-up or low block with four players spaced behind the arc, when any help comes from the defense being ultra aggressive, it exploits the coverage based on recognition cuts towards the basket. Orlando constantly has these plays on display, whether they are connecting with teammates on dump-offs, laydowns, pin downs, bounce passes, or shovel passes, creating easier lanes for teammates.
Step Up Ball-Screen + Pick & Pop
One of the most common actions Orlando uses when running their coveted 5-Out sets is "Step Up Ball-Screens," a ball-screen set with the screener facing the opposite baseline. Orlando utilizes this in their half-court set as a sneak attack because the screener never actually enters the on-ball defender’s vision. More often than not, the defender gets blindsided, allowing easier offensive scoring opportunities. Sometimes Orlando will have a play designated for this type of screen, whereas, in other occurrences, they rely on their bigs (Wendell Carter Jr and Moritz Wagner) to hunt for shots when necessary. Either way, a properly executed step-up screen can create immediate advantages and downhill momentum for the ball-handler to score or kick out to open teammates.
In the play below, Ayo Dosunmo picks up Cole Anthony at half-court while backpedaling. Moritz Wagner, has his feet lined up for the step-up screen, anticipates Dosunmos’ path and drills him with a hard screen with his back to the basket. This causes Vucevic to rotate off and Chicago helps off all three perimeter shooters in attempts to deny Cole Anthony a mid-range jumper or line drive to the rim. Cole attacks the defense and kicks it out to Moritz Wagner who "pops" back out to the three point line after setting the step-up screen to knock down the triple from downtown.
Unlike Moritz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr's step-up screens don't necessarily display the same level of ferocity and tenaciousness. Frequently, Wendell will pop out of his screens early and into space to generate himself opportunities to score behind the arc. Let’s take a look at an example to understand this type of action. Below, the Orlando Magic work into a step-up screen with the Philadelphia 76ers big (Joel Embiid) in drop coverage. No matter the initiation sequence the step-up creates advantages with Tyrese Maxey chasing Markelle Fultz after the screen leaving Wendell Carter Jr wide open for the triple.
This next play implements a variation of everything sprinkled within. Wendell Carter Jr starts this play at the low block (watch how Jalen Suggs waits for Chuma Okeke to get into position behind the arc to generate the proper spacing to exploit the Maverick's defensive coverage). Once the suitable spacings sets, Carter Jr comes to set the set-up screen with his back to the baseline. Dwight Powell, Carter's primary defender, changes his defensive stance to deny Sugg's a rim run. Jalen hits Wendell on the pass back for a potential wide-open triple, except this time, Okeke's defender (Reggie Bullock) rotates over to take the shot away. Chuma recognizes this and exploits the coverage on a recognition 45-degree cuts towards the basket for a go-ahead bucket on a nice dime from Wendell Carter Jr.
This timed step-up screen play is one of the most common sets the Magic deployed this season with a ton of variations;
1st read: Rim Run
2nd read: Pick & Pop Screener Triple
3rd read: 45' recognition cutter
The next ball screen we're going to dissect is the "Side Ball-Screen" The Magic trigger their Side Screen set by the ball handler dribble-clearing the wing or by passing to the wing and making a basket cut, clearing out to the weak side of the court. Typically, this play is run when one side of the court is EMPTY, with the big setting a side ball screen away from the basket and the other three offensive players on the opposite side of the floor. This allows for impeccable spacing in the two-man game and ample alley-oop dunk opportunities.
These next two clips are set play-calls after timeouts called "Inbounder Back Screen SLOBS" with two different elements attached to it. In this first clip Wendell Carter Jr is the primary pass catcher to draw the opposing center out of the low block. Franz back-screens Fultz’s defender (Mitchell) in order for Markelle to go toward the rim. Levert doesn’t rotate to Fultz quickly enough to disrupt the alley-oop.
Same play-call here from Jamahl Mosley, however, the first read (lob to Markelle Fultz) is not there and Orlando flows into attacking the EMPTY side of the floor. Wendell Carter Jr pitches it to Franz Wagner and sets a side ball-screen. Myles Turner immediately backpedals into a drop coverage and never sees Carter Jr's roll to the basket for an alley-oop dunk. Once again using screens and 5-Out spacing to create advantages. Although the Side Screen is a fairly simple play, it incorporates a magnitude of quick hitting options making it so lethal to put a halt to.
Wendell had 25 lobs above the rim this season connecting on 23 of them (92%) on a 1.84 PPS basis. 17 of his 23 made alley-oop dunks came off slipping to the rim after setting a side ball-screen. This action was by far Orlando's favorite go to look after having their bigs set the coveted screening action, however as the game wore on Orlando's offense pulled away from alley-oops.
Wendell Carter Jr. Alley-Oop Dunks by Quarter;
- Q1: 10/11 (90.9%)
- Q2: 3/4 (75%)
- Q3: 6/6 (100%)
- Q4: 4/4 (100%)
Teams will defend side-ball screens by icing or utilizing down coverages. In this example, the Brooklyn Nets will "ICE" the Magic with the opposing guard defender forcing the ball to the baseline with the big zoned up, not allowing an easy drive to the rim. When teams play this coverage, Jamahl Mosley counters with having a shooter screen or deploying a side ball screen using the big but generating open three-point shooters while the screening action occurs.
This play is called a Horns Back-Screen Release. The Horns alignment has both post players high near the arc on each side of the lane. Having both players high neutralizes the baseline help in terms that no bigs are lurking near the basket. In this case, it’s; (Paolo Banchero and Moritz Wagner) Moritz Wagner sets the side-ball screen, and the Nets immediately expect a rim roll.
The usage of the “Back-screen” is implemented in this Horns set by the shooter (Gary Harris) setting a back screen on the big man’s (Banchero’s) defender and then popping out to the 3-point line. After Gary Harris sets the back- screen his initial defender Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney Smith are both caught unaware — allowing Gary Harris to pop out to the 3PT line where he received a pass in his shooting pocket.
The final action the Orlando Magic utilize in their 5-Out spacing is "Miami" Action which is a DHO (dribble handoff) followed by a ball-screen. Miami is a great way to get the ball to an off-guard like Terrance Ross with an opportunity to score, instead of asking him to initiate the offense against a set defense. In the play below Orlando runs a staple "throw and get Miami Action" -- Terrence Ross passes to Moritz Wagner who handoffs to the cutting Ross and annihilates Austin Reaves with a ball-screen leading to an 18 foot pull up jumper.
Orlando's version of Miami Action mostly consisted of the "throw and get" variation -- a two man game between the big and guard but most teams utilize the ball-handler on the right wing (Franz Wagner) DHOs to the guard coming (Terrance Ross). That guard then receives a ball-screen from the big coming from the top of the key (Mohammed Bamba)
There are so many responsibilities on a coach that sometimes can be overlooked, but utilizing individual player strengths in a variety of ways puts stress on the defense and makes things easier to generate good looks on offense. Despite the implementation of the 5-Out offensive scheme the Magic's offense suffered all season from countless injuries and limited perimeter threats. For much of the season Orlando was faced with the daunting task of outscoring opponents with a higher volume of lower-value shots and the results, finishing with the 5th worst offensive rating in the NBA (111.3)
Luckily for Orlando they now know where they'll pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. After the ping-pong balls fell on Tuesday night, the Magic emerged from the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery in Chicago with the No. 6 and No. 11 overall selections in this year's draft to go along with the already pre-determined 36th pick. Jamahl Mosley and the Magic face an interesting offseason where they have a riches of good including picks, cap space and etc... to get the ball rolling on rejuvenating this offense to becoming a playoff caliber team.
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