Mini-Playbook: The "Horns" Set | Magic Basketball

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Oct 25

Mini-Playbook: The “Horns” Set

Photo by Fernando Medina

Tweaks and adjustments.

For the Orlando Magic, tweaks and adjustments have been made not only with the roster but also with strategy. This season, head coach Stan Van Gundy has made a commitment to make the Magic’s offense less predictable, and the results — even if it was pre-season — have been good.

There’s a lot of new wrinkles offensively for Orlando, but one of them has been the insertion of the “Horns” set. In short, two big men stand at both elbows on the court and set screens for the wing player with the basketball. The play design has lots of potential for success because of the diversity of options.¬†Examples will be provided in a second.

The main attraction of the “Horns” set, however, is that it solves some of the spacing problems the Magic have when Rashard Lewis is at small forward and Brandon Bass is at power forward.

Because Bass is not a stretch four in the mold of Lewis or Ryan Anderson, it’s been difficult for Orlando’s offense to operate seamlessly as it usually does because he doesn’t have three-point range. As such, there were times last year when the Magic would get bogged down offensively because no plays were designed to take into account Bass’ skill-set, which centers around an efficient mid-range game.

That problem has been solved, somewhat.

Let’s take a look.

Orlando can accomplish a variety of things with the “Horns” set and the play-type is a perfect example of the unpredictability that Van Gundy is seeking with the offense this season. Everyone is a threat on the floor. The bigs set the screens but after they do so, they have the option of either cutting to the basket in a hybrid pick and roll or they can pop out for a shot on the perimeter. One wing player sets up in the corner for a catch-and-shoot three-pointer off dribble penetration. The other wing player that is given the ball on a dribble handoff, more or less, decides the end result of the play based on how the defense reacts.

When executed correctly, it’s a fantastic play to watch develop.

Click here for the video.

Example 1:

On this possession, J.J. Redick enters the basketball in the high post. At that point, Redick and Anderson set simultaneous screens to free up Chris Duhon, who receives the ball. From there, Marcin Gortat sets a screen on Lewis’ defender to give him some space. Lewis, then, finishes the job by blowing past Aaron Gray for a reverse dunk.

Notice that there’s a lot of moving parts on this play.

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Click here for the video.

Example 2:

This time, Redick executes a give-and-go with Anderson. Redick gets the basketball and, as Anderson sets a screen for him, dribble penetrates to the free-throw line. As that is happening, Gortat sets a screen for Lewis’ defender. At one point, there are three defenders from the New Orleans Hornets converging on Redick. This makes it all too easy for Redick to drive-and-kick the ball to Lewis for an open three.

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Click here for the video.

Example 3:

Even though this play is generated from the “Horns” set, this is more of a hybrid 3/4 pick and roll more than anything else. Vince Carter receives the ball at the top of the key, splits the defenders, and makes an incredible fadeaway jumper.

8 comments
J the Drafter
J the Drafter

Thanks for the videos. I haven't seen any complete Magic preseason games, so I wouldn't have known about the horns without this video. It looks like a neat play.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@MagicFan1

Hah. I sense some sarcasm in that comment.

@MagicMark

Hopefully the diagrams paint a better picture for you.

@The Dark

Great point. I think it's also possible we could see a lot of hybrid pick and rolls/pops from the "Horns" set. The play-type has a lot of potential. It'll be interesting to see what type of variations Van Gundy comes up with this season.

@jtshoopsblog

What's not to get? I explained it in my post.

@CaptWes213

No problem. Glad you like 'em!

CaptWes213
CaptWes213

E, this is a GREAT analysis/video display. I absolutely love these tutorials that you do every once in a while. It really increases my knowledge/enjoyment of the game. Thanks! Please keep up the great work.

MagicMark
MagicMark

He gets a lot more than 10 touches per game. He has averaged 10 SHOTS per game. This is mitigated somewhat by how many times he goes to the freethrow line. He touches the ball almost every time down the court at some point.

jtshoopsblog
jtshoopsblog

Still don't get this horns offense. They should ditch that and feed the ball to Howard for heaven's sake. The man's a gift from God and he only gets 10 touches a game.

The Dark
The Dark

It's interesting that this plays to another Magic advantage - their non-stretch bigs (Howard, Bass, Gortat) are all mobile big men. By keeping them out at the elbows, it pulls the defense out and allows the bigs to potentially take advantage of that mobility by having the PF and C positions isolated rather than collapsed in towards the paint, where help defense becomes easier. Particularly if Gortat and/or Bass can defend the 4 this season, this could create some interesting matchup problems.

MagicMark
MagicMark

Interesting. When I attended the open practice they had been working on "Horns In" and "Horns out" plays, and I couldn't really figure out what it was they were doing, except I knew the ball typically ended up in one of the wing players hands (Carter or Lewis primarily)

MagicFan1
MagicFan1

Good quality videos! I mean really really good quality. They aren't even grainy at all!