Out of the Timeout: San Antonio’s weak side screen & roll play


Out of the Timeout is our new series at 48 Minutes of Hell where we take a look at different set plays the San Antonio Spurs run, and break them down step-by-step for you, the fan.

Manu Ginobili is a man of many talents, but one of his biggest strengths is when he is moving without the ball. Last week in the San Antonio Spurs’ final preseason game against the Houston Rockets, the Spurs ran the following play in the second quarter. The best thing about this play is the options it provides as a result.

Most defenses can only defend for so long before they make a mistake. That’s why coaches always stress ball movement and patience, eventually something will open up. So when a set play ends with several ways for the team to get a shot, it’s going to successful more often than not.

In this play, George Hill (1) brings the ball up the floor. As Hill approaches the 3-point arc, Antonio McDyess (5) sets a screen for Manu Ginobili (2) on the weak side of the floor.

San Antonio Spurs Weak Side Screen & Roll Play

Ginobili curls off the screen towards the free throw line looking for the ball and Antonio McDyess rolls to the basket.

San Antonio Spurs Weakside Screen & Roll Play

When Ginobili gets the ball, he has several options. His first option is to go to the basket when he has the ball. That depends on where his defender is when he receives the pass from Hill, where the help defense is and the angle he takes when coming off the screen. His next option is to take the 15-foot jumper, which is what he did when the Spurs ran this play against Houston.

Ginobili also has several passing lanes available. Antonio McDyess is rolling to the basket after the screen, but if the defense rotates over to help on McDyess, that opens up passing lanes to either DeJuan Blair (4) in the short corner or Richard Jefferson (3) on the wing for a 3-pointer.

San Antonio Spurs Weakside Screen & Roll Play

Again, the best plays result in several options for the offense, and several opportunities for the defense to screw up. Even the best defensive teams make mistakes and give up easy baskets. Plays like the one we just looked at take advantage of the fact that when defenses have to rotate and help after screens, they leave plenty of openings for the offense. From there, it’s just a matter of making the right read and executing.

All diagrams were made using FastDraw from Fast Model Software.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Out of the Timeout: The San Antonio Spurs Weak Side Screen & Roll play | 48 Minutes of Hell -- Topsy.com()

  • The Beat Counselor


    Looking forward to more of these types of articles.

  • Bentley

    Is there anyway you guys could get the video of this play happening live that way it would be easier to see

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill


    That was the goal, but I wasn’t able to get video of it. As the season goes on I’ll add a video clip to this post for all to see the. From here on out, they should have video of the specific play, though.

  • stephen

    Thanks, great insightful read. Diagrams of their plays are always interesting. Keep them coming!

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Lenneezz

    I really enjoy X and O articles like this.

    Knowledge of the Spurs plays and philosophy makes us fans feel closer to the team.

  • rob

    “Most defenses can only defend for so long before they make a mistake. That’s why coaches always stress ball movement and patience, eventually something will open up.”

    There’s a difference between stagnent ball movement and punctual ball movement.

    The Spurs are notorious in the half court set for stagnent ball movement. So much so that defenders can almost rest in a half court defensive position against the Spurs.

    That’s been getting better. But not perfected yet to allow other players on the court to be ready to score when opportunity presents itself for them to attempt an easy (easier) basket than what’s trying to be implemented with their current ball movement philosophy.

    In other words. The big 3 ARE the offensive focal point on this team and most other attempts by others are mostly desparation shots or lack of spacing allowing them an easier opportunity to attempt a better shot.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill


    I disagree that the ball is stagnant in the Spurs offense. They are one of the better teams in the league in terms of ball movement and their offense fails when the ball sits still. There are very few isolation plays for the Spurs other than when it goes in the post to Tim Duncan.

  • rob

    Andrew A. McNeill

    Perhaps I didn’t clarify my response according to my thoughts.

    I’ve seen too many times that Spurs ball movement…though good when trying to set up a particular shot by (or to) a particular player…can somewhat be easily deciphered by an opposing team.

    To me (in the past) it’s been too easily diagnosed to allow other players for the Spurs on the court an open opportunity to score because the oposing defense almost inheritly knows that player is not the option to score or will not take the shot according to a plan to get one of the big 3 to score.

    It would be great to see a diagram or diagnosis to show when attempts by others are being taken in a half court set.

    My recollection may not be correct…but to me most others not named Duncan, Parker or Ginobili are taking their shots because of offensive break down and/or shot clock desparity.

    And I’ve seen plenty of times when somebody else had a great opportunity to score only to pass on the opportunity.

    Whether this is by plan or lack of a player not taking advantage of the opportunity is beyond my knowledge of how the team operates on offense.

    But I stand corrected regarding the ball movement quote I made.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill


    I see what you’re saying. And you’re right, the Spurs offense is very predictable, there’s not a lot of freelancing like, say, the triangle. The Spurs mainly rely on out-executing the defense. It’s getting harder and harder to do that these days, though.

  • rob

    @ Andrew

    Yeah..my hope is that they do allow (or at least let the others know) if an opportunity to score easily is available…go for it or take the shot.

    If the Spurs can get that kind of scoring…it would make it easier on the big 3 to get their’s during the game. And/or at least be fresher at the end of a close game when being known they will be called upon to make an important score.

  • Pop-a-vich

    Hope to see this play a lot tonight!!!