Read and React – Layer 1

Here’s why I think most coaches look past Layer 1 Pass & Cut: They only see the initial scoring opportunities, i.e., the give-and-go that comes from a Front Cut or a Rear Cut. They think that it is easily defended (which we all know is not the case), but more importantly, they don’t see what else that action creates:

Draft Drives
After the basket cut an immediate help defender one position away has been temporarily taken out of the picture. A dribble drive in the direction of that cutter takes advantage of this space. Now, the closest help defender must come from a distance of two spots. By the way, that help defender is also trying to guard an offensive player who is filling up and on the move.

It’s amazing how effective this can be. I’ve seen draft drives end in lay-ups over the back of the original cutter’s defender.

Fill Cuts
There are unique scoring opportunities made possible for the player who fills the open spot, especially if that player is a Slasher.

Read Line Rear Cut if the defender is denying.

Curl the Puppydog (Front Cut) if the defender is trailing.

And, if the pass is made to the Filler, he now has the opportunity to attack while in motion. This may be a rip against the grain, a shot in rhythm, or a variety of other actions.

It’s obvious to say that a player in motion is more dangerous. Well, the Fill Cuts generate moving players on every pass.

Spacing, Player Movement, and Ball Movement
In only a few seconds, a Read & React team can make the defense change sides of the floor, defend on the perimeter, defend a North-South cut, defend in the post, and close out multiple times. Modern day defense requires that five defenders guard two-thirds of the floor. Layer 1 can break that down for most teams in only 10-15 seconds.

This opens up gaps to attack with other actions. Even if the Layer 1 action isn’t the scoring action, it can still create the opportunity for the score. In many cases, it should be credited with an assist.

Next Best Actions
Next Best Action decisions are given to the players only after or during a basket cut. Layer 1 is a hinge layer: the remaining 19 layers are contingent on the action of constantly cutting the lane and threatening the basket.
Layer 1 is the door that players walk through in order to get to decisions like the following:

  • Post-up after the cut (if there’s an advantage).
  • Set a screen for a post player before filling out.
  • Set a Pin Screen on weak-side defenders.
  • Use a Pin Screen set by one of your Read & React teammates.
  • Set a Back Screen for anyone, anywhere on the perimeter.
  • Use another cutting teammate as a Brush Screen.
  • Set a Brush Screen for another cutting teammate and then shape-up for the ball.
  • Use a screen set by your post player either coming into the lane or going out.
  • Use both post players (if you have them) as double staggered screens.

And the list goes on…

I know of many high level coaches who have “taken a look” at the Read & React only to skip over the first layer as if it just applies to youth teams and camps.

As far as I’m concerned, they don’t know what they’re missing!