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TRIANGLE OFFENSE

Since the 1990's no offense in basketball has proven its worth as a championship offense like the triangle offense.  This offense, devised by the likes of Sam Barry and Tex Winter, found new life in the 1990's and the 2000's with the championship runs by the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.  The offensive concepts that are in this offense have stood the test of time and are continuing to be used at all levels of basketball with great success.

Advantages of the Triangle Offense

As mentioned earlier, the triangle offense is a great way to play a more free-flowing style of offense that many set offenses lack while retaining a degree of structure that free-lance offenses tend to lack.  However, there are more advantages that should be taken into consideration before running this offense:

First, the triangle offense allows for multiple players to be posted up at various times throughout the course of the offense.  This puts perimeter players on defense in a difficult situation if they have to play post defense and have not worked on it in practice.  The end result of a offensive player in the post who knows how to play in the post versus a defensive player in the post who has not worked on post defense a no contest.

Second, the spacing in the triangle offense is outstanding.  Players are spaced anywhere from 15 to 20 feet at any given time.  This excellent spacing makes the defense play far enough away from the other players to where they are not in a position to help while also giving the offense the ability to quickly snap passes between each other.

Finally, the triangle offense has multiple options and reads that lend it to being a free-flowing style of offense.  Since the offense has multiple options in it, it becomes more difficult to scout.  Also, the reads in the offense allow the offense to take advantage of the defense whenever and wherever necessary.

Disadvantages of the Triangle Offense

One of the main disadvantages of the triangle offense is that it requires quick decision-making based on reading the defense.  In the NBA, the triangle offense worked well because of the abilities of the players running it to make decisions in a timely manner.  This was because of the 24-second shot clock in part, but it also had to do with the need to beat the defense with an excellent sense of timing and to run the offense quicker than the defense can react to it.

The second big disadvantage of the triangle offense is that the offense is perimeter oriented.  That is to say that the offense can put players in the position of having to shoot jump shots from the perimeter if they cannot penetrate the defense with an entry pass to the post.  If penetration does not occur, players must be capable of scoring from the outside (i.e. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant).

Finally, the triangle offense also has the disadvantage when it comes to help-side rebounding.  In many cases, the offense is focused so much on one side of the floor that when a shot is taken, it becomes difficult to rebound on the other side.  Seventy percent of shots taken on one side of the floor are rebounded on the other so it will become important to your team to work on weak-side rebounding on all shots and to get everyone into a position where they can rebound on the ball side as well as the help side.

Entries into the Triangle Offense

Many teams that like to run the triangle offense will use a two-guard front.  This front is very beneficial to a team if they do not have a point guard.  It also allows for an offense to post up any one of the five players on the floor.  That front will be illustrated later when discussing a pressure release and the "blind pig" that that can be used against pressure defenses.

However, I am partial to the 1-4 high alignment because it allows an offense to better handle defensive pressure and, unlike the two-guard front alignment, has a safety in the event a pass is intercepted.  For all of these entries that are presented, I will use the 1-4 high alignment.

The 1-4 high alignment also gives us the opportunity to run the offense on either side of the floor immediately.  In essence, there are 12 wing entries into the triangle offense if you count both sides.  We also can run the solo cut options that will be illustrated and explained later in this article on either side of the floor.

The first entry presented is a pass from the point guard to the wing as is illustrated in Diagrams 1 and 3.  In Diagram 1, the point guard speed cuts to the ball-side corner while #3 fills the point with a cut that breaks the three-point line twice and influences his defender toward the basket before cutting to the point.  In Diagram 1, #5 flashes to the ball side post while #4 cuts away to the help-side short corner.  In Diagram 3, #4 rolls down to the ball-side post while #5 goes to the help-side short corner.  Diagrams 2 and 4 show the aftermath of the entries illustrated in Diagrams 1 and 3 respectively.

As a point of emphasis, it is important that whichever post is posting up in the ball-side post must be on the line of deployment.  The line of deployment is the line that connects the ball at the wing to the center of the basket.  This way, the post man's defender has to make the decision as to how he will guard him and, no matter what the decision is, the defensive player will be wrong.


Diagram 1

Diagram 2

Diagram 3

Diagram 4

We can also use the same set up for our post players as in Diagrams 1-4 when we use the dribble entry.  Here, #1 dribbles #2 to the corner if the pass is not available to either wing or either post.  #4 and #5 will set up as they would if the ball were entered to the wing and #3 fills the point.
 


Diagram 5

Diagram 6

Diagram 7

Diagram 8

We can also set up the offense by getting the opposite wing to fill the ball-side corner and the point guard to fill the point.  Diagrams 9 and 10 show #4 posting up and the opposite wing (in this instance, #3) filling the corner thanks to a rear screen from #5.  Diagrams 11 and 12 show #5 posting up and #4 setting the rear screen.
 


Diagram 9

Diagram 10

Diagram 11

Diagram 12

Once the offense is set, we have four options that we can run from this alignment that are illustrated in Diagram 13: the post entry option, the point entry option, the high post entry option, and the corner entry option.  We will look to run those options in the order in which they are presented.


Diagram 13

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