Del Harris 8 Point Transition Offense

Del Harris is the former head coach of the Lakers, Bucks, and Rockets. Coach Hariis guided the Rockets to teh 1981 NBA Finals.

I have had a couple of email correspondences with him and he has gracioulsy provided me with a few articles for the site that I will be posting in the coming weeks.

He went to high school and started coaching in Indiana and I have crossed paths with a few of his former students and players. They all say that even with the success he has enjoyed, he has remained loyal to those who knew him on his way up the coaching ladder.

8 Points for Transition Offensive

Del Harris

There are some basic things that help these things to happen. You may do any or all of them already or in the future.

1. Always have the ballhandler “loop” to get open either when the ball is ob after scores or after the Rebound when possible. Hopefully, you understand looping, but it is mainly that to prevent the ballhandler (we will call him the PG from now on) get the ball on the move and never with his back to the defense. Looping puts him in motion and in a position where he has his back mainly to a sideline, not the halfline.

2. Do not have your first big man running the court to run in the exact vertical middle of the floor. He should run on the weak side of the middlei, more in line with the weakside block. We rim run, but not directly down the middle to the rim. We have them slightly on the weakside and he can cross the lane right in front of the goal to catch a lob on a high pass option or he can cut across later to the strong side block when he doesn’t get the lob option. He will read to cut across to the strong side block only when he sees that the PG will not be penetrating all the way to the goal in the transition. He keeps the PGs lane to the rim open in this way and puts himself in position to rebound a shot by the PG or to get a late high pass from the PG on a drive if his defender leaves him to attack the PGs penetration. In addition, the running of the court this way not only puts the big man in position to catch the lob, it also creates a better pass angle from the PG if a pass is made earlier than at the rim. Running down the middle makes it harder for the PG to make a pass that is catchable in stride because the big man is forced to try to catch that is coming at an angle more over his back instead of from the side angle. This same principle applies on the pick and roll—the big shold open up to an angle on his cut as opposed to cutting straight to the goal so as to give the passer an angle to make the Pocket Pass or the lob.

3. As for the wings—look for the pass ahead in the half line area, but when he sees he is not going to get the pass ahead, he should not stop on the wing—vital point. He must then continue on to the corner or cross under the goal, as you wish. But the stop on the wing is a killer to transition unless totally open to catch an early pass at the extremely high wing angle nearer the half line.

The reason is that his defender can help make the penetration lane to the basket look crowded and take away his drive to the goal option. Again, if the big man has already gotten to the strong side block and the wing man is stopped on the wing, the only option the PG has is to swing the ball off a pass or a transition PNR.

4. If the wing gets the pass ahead he should look to attack and if the big man has run correctly, he will be on the weak side part of the lane and can get a high pass just as if the PG were penetrating. And he is in position to rebound the jumper or floater or to get a good high pass if his man attacks the wing penetration.

5. If the wing has gone to the corner, he must be ready to come up a step or two ot of the corner if the PG decides to penetrate the lane. He will read his defender in this act. If the defender drops to help vs. the PG, he is in position to catch the ball in rhythm to catch and shoot or to catch and turn the corner for a second penetration. The PG will pull to the strong side corner to replace the wing man and follow up the penetration by the wing. On the other hand, if the defender on the wing stays up on the wing man in the corner on the PG penetration, the wing has the option to backcut if he reads it early enough so as not to get right in the PGs path.

6. Big thing is that if there is no easy, clear option on the first side as we have discussed in the first 5 points, do not force the action on the first side. I don’t like a forced shot, drive or pass on the first side. First side action must be clearcut. Otherwise, swing the ball and look to attack. In high school or college there is always time to set a play after the ball has been swung, if you are a set offense coach. I always like to have 3-4 options off of the secondary break—when that first side action is not there but the defense is not set. I like to keep it various ways–either by hand or verbal signals, or by the dribble or pass action by the PG or by his cut if he has thrown the ball to the strong side wing or even to the top.

7. The second key to having a simple, yet multiple, transition game is to have the trailer do different things when he is in the swing position. Of course, one is that he can run a transition PNR on the ball handler that must not be a stop and pick, 2-step option, but rather a fluid dynamic motion where he crosses in front of the PG and intiates more of a crossing action in the PNR than a regular PNR. But more than that, he can pass the ball on to the weak wing and cut to the goal or screen the low man or set a double on the weakside with the PG for example. Or he can pass to the wing and follow the ball to set a PNR on that man, if he is PNR capable.

8. Another thing that one can do is to have the weak side wing man to be alert to do one of two things: He can run to the corner as well when he is well out in front and then be ready to move up to present himself as an outlet if the PG penetrates and gets stopped—if the PG goes all the way to the baseline, he will drift back down to the corner to be the baseline drift man. Or, secondly, if he is not out in front on the transition, he should run to the high angle spot between the middle of the court and the foul line extended weak side and look to get a deep kickout pass from the guard or the strong side wing on penetration. If he is a 3-shooter, he can let it fly. If he is not he is in a position to penetrate or pass inside.

Del Harris, GM Texas Legends
Author, On Point -four steps to better life teams
You can read a free sample by clicking here: On Point Sample

This is what Coach Harris had to say about the book:

“Every coach should have his point guard read my book. It came as a result of my speaking at the Nancy Lieberman
Award in Detroit in 2010. I wanted to say something that would make sense to the hundreds who would be there who were not the women’s NCAA D-1 best point guard in America, getting the award named for Hall of Fame PG and all time greatest woman player. I came up with the idea of noting the qualities in terms of abilities and attitudes that made for great point guard play. Then I showed how we all could mine those elements from within ourselves on the various Life-teams of which we are and would become a part.

The book will not only be good for the PGs to read but will absolutely make the coach a better coach. I wish I had known all that I have written when I was in my 20s , 30s or 40s. I am totally confident that what I have written is truth and it is backed up totally by biblical principles.”

Best regards and blessings to all, Del

For another sample and if you are interested in purchasing the book, you can click this link to see it on Amazon:

On Point: Four Steps To Better Life Teams

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *