January 18, 2018

An interesting rash has broken out amongst many NBA teams the past 2 seasons. No, it isn’t related to a skin malady, but it certainly is contagious. I’m talking about the offensive set called HORNS. It’s hard to trace the origin of this offense and why it’s called HORNS, but it has been one of the most used, and recognizable, set this season.

The initial alignment is having the point guard centered between the circles, 2 big men at each of the elbows, and 2 guards in the corners. This serves to open the basket area, and also enables an easy entry pass to the high post. At the NBA level, it is rare that a big man is effective denying his man the ball at the high post.

The initial alignment of HORNS
The initial alignment of HORNS
Once the initial pass from the point guard to the high post is made, the point guard initiates the option. He chooses to either screen the strong side corner, or the weakside corner.

The Warriors love to send the point guard to the weakside – typically Stephen Curry (in our breakdown, it’s Jarrett Jack since Curry is sidelined) – to screen for Klay Thompson. This puts tremendous pressure on the defense, since Thompson and Curry are 2 of the very best shooters in the league.

More After the Breakdown

As Thompson curls around Curry’s screen, Bogut down screens Curry’s man – essentially creating flex action that allows an easy catch and shoot by Curry and/or deep post position for Bogut after he screens.

As seen in our breakdown above, Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle opted to switch on this flex action, which served to stall the offense. But it also created mismatches – in one instance, Vince Carter got stuck on a big man and in another OJ Mayo. This might have been more a symptom of not having Dirk Nowitzki, causing them to go small out of necessity. But the fact remains that HORNS allows focused action that is clear for all five players. While there is less read and react ability built in, it gets enough spacing to create great shots.

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Coach Nick

Coach Nick is the founder of BballBreakdown, coached the Triangle Offense at the high school level, and counts Tex Winter and Pete Newell as mentors. For more of our conversation, follow him @BBALLBREAKDOWN.

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