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How the Kings Used a 5-Out Offense in Preseason

Luke Walton wants to run more 5-out sets, so I rewatched the four preseason games to analyze how it looks.

The 2020-21 preseason has officially concluded for the Sacramento Kings, and while four games aren’t sufficient for experimenting with new schemes, there were some instances where Sacramento ran the 5-out on offense, a set Luke Walton has said he wants to utilize more this season.

Basics of the 5-out offense

The name is self-explanatory; all five players on the court will occupy a portion of the floor beyond the three-point arc. If a team wants to *fully* maximize floor spacing, this is a staunch route to achieve that.

For Sacramento, Luke Walton’s reasoning for implementing more 5-out sets is precise: This offense should optimize De’Aaron Fox, the Kings max point guard who benefits from playing alongside reliable shooters. Fox’s ability to attack the paint lures in hypnotized defenders, enabling Fox to reach into his bag of passing wizardry to deliver a pass to the perimeter; the onus will then shift to the defenders who must reject the temptations of contesting Fox, who possesses the passing chops to fleece a muddling defender.

We’ll explore the nuances of this set in these upcoming clips, so let’s watch the tape.

Game 1 at Portland:

Buddy Hield races down the court in transition, but instead of pulling the trigger on a well-contested shot, he brings the ball down and gives it back to his backcourt mate. As every player occupies an area on the arc, the action will commence with Hield coming off a wide pindown, with Fox used as the screener.

Hield’s path to curl towards the rim is jammed; instead, he receives the dribble hand-off, leading to three options: 1. Pocket pass to the roll big (tough, the passing lane is blocked) 2. Chest pass to Nemanja Bjelica (good) or 3. Skip pass to Harrison Barnes in the corner (good, also risky; defender can jump the lane or contest better).

Hield opts for #2, which leads to an extra pass to an open Barnes. Damian Lillard erroneously tags Richaun Holmes on the roll, which was unnecessary. Lillard is unable to rotate back in time as Barnes drills the catch-and-shoot attempt.

A 5-out system desperately requires competent shooting from at least four players. Sacramento’s lineup in this play satisfies that requirement, despite Fox’s rough outputs from deep. Holmes’ excellence as a pick-and-roll finisher extracted multiple defenders from the perimeter, and the Kings’ ball movement from the strong side to the weak resulted in an open three. That’s how you capitalize on a defense’s mistake.

In this system, there are multiple ways an offense can spread the ball without relying on the paint: off-ball screens, on-ball screens, backdoor cuts and more. This play involves Barnes with a pump fake in the corner, but he passes it back to Fox to reset (for reference, DaQuan Jeffries occupies the bottom corner which isn’t in the frame).

After passing it to Barnes, Hield rounds his way out to the right wing, so Jabari Parker slides to the top of the key. Now you get an on-ball screen from Parker to obtain the mismatch; Fox guarded by Enes Kanter is a million times better than dealing with the feisty Gary Trent Jr.

Fox’s dribble hits Kanter’s leg which ends the play. If that doesn’t transpire, Fox’s speed results in an open layup here. But if Fox does get past Kanter, look at the space he’s dealing with; if one of Derrick Jones Jr. or Anthony committed to Fox hard enough, Fox could’ve swung a pass out to a teammate. Portland is pouring one out for Kanter’s leg.

This play is quite similar to the first clip but evolves differently. Both wing players (Hield, Fox) will swap spaces with the corner spots (Barnes, Jeffries). Parker can go either direction; he chooses left. Parker, however, doesn’t execute the DHO smoothly with Barnes as the pass is deflected.

Barnes then resets with Parker setting another screen as both Jones Jr. and Harry Giles defend it well (Jones goes over on the screen; Giles shows high). Parker will fade out instead of rolling and attempt a three over Giles. You admire the confidence by Parker, but as a career 32% shooter from deep, he was likely to miss. Still, in these sets, having a shooting big is extremely profitable to exploit situations like this.

Okay, last clip from game one. This is particularly why you want more 5-out sets; it provides Fox with the prospect of attacking the rim on an one-on-one situation, a situation most defenders in the league will fear. Fox simply puts his head down and swiftly attacks Robert Covington’s left. However, the weak side rotation along the baseline by Trent Jr. foils Fox’s plan.

Also, notice Lillard’s clever swipe. He decommits from fully swiping at Fox because of the sharpshooter he’s guarding.

Game 2 at Portland:

The Kings, specifically Holmes, get funky here. Out of this baseline out-of-bounds set (BLOB), both Bjelica and Holmes double screen Trent Jr. to free up Hield. Bjelica backtracks to the corner as Hield and Holmes initiate the PnR.

Kanter is caught ball-watching, but he wouldn’t have expected Holmes to take the three, which goes in. Remember, Holmes once shot 35% from deep (1.4 attempts per game) in 2016-17, but never advanced in that category. Holmes is already an adept roller, but if he restores a reliable long ball, it’s eye emoji season.

Sacramento’s preseason breakout star, Kyle Guy, is the prominent player on this play. Part of proving he belongs on this team is exhibiting on-ball skills, and this exemplified that. The wide pindown leads to a DHO with Kaminsky, who proceeds to roll to the basket. Jusuf Nurkic bites, giving Guy enough time to deliver a crisp pocket pass for a layup.

Guy and Kaminsky, who was cut by Sacramento while I was writing this, are two consummate players for this system. Though released, Kaminsky’s ability to stretch the floor is convenient, despite his waning percentages. Guy is proving to be a threat on and off the ball, and though it’s unlikely we see more from him immediately in the regular season, I hope he gains a shot at some point.

Another principle of the system is backdoor cuts; there are multiple scenarios that can lead to a player backcutting. The one we’ll see here is when the defense steps up to deny the pass. Portland will blitz Guy and then shift the blitz to Kaminsky. Everytime a Blazer blitzes, their defensive rotation shortens; CJ Elleby moves up to guard Hield, but that grants Tyrese Haliburton a free lane to the basket, which Kaminsky recognizes.

Anthony comes on the weak side rotation to prevent the layup which Haliburton notices as he passes the ball to an open Glenn Robinson III. Robinson can’t miss the shot like that, though.

Last one from game two. After playing catch with Guy for some trickery, Haliburton gains the step on Elleby by not altering directions after Chimezie Metu’s screen. Giles supplies the strong side rotation by fully committing to stopping Haliburton; Elleby, already trailing Haliburton, needed to pick up Robinson in the corner. Since he doesn’t, Robinson reimburses Haliburton with the basket after failing in the previous clip.

Game 3 vs Golden State:

The sets didn’t materialize as often in this game, and I’m guessing the returns of Hassan Whiteside and Marvin Bagley affected that; the former isn’t a floor spacer, and the latter hadn’t practiced much because of COVID-19.

There’s two off-ball actions here: 1. Kyle Guy leaking into the right corner and 2. A backdoor cut by Marvin Bagley. Both are feasible methods in achieving points. Holmes opted for the skip pass to Guy, which I prefer in this context because the cut by Bagley is stolid. Kent Bazemore is surprisingly caught off guard, giving Guy ample time to knock it down.

Off-ball screens are crucial in these sets to generate good looks. Sacramento runs a weak side double-drag set to land a catch-and-shoot shot for Hield (that’s what you want to see), and Hield drills it.

Game 4 vs Golden State:

Similar to the preceding game, this game accompanied fewer 5-out sets. And similar to the last clip from game one, Fox attempts a solo attack to the basket. However, despite maintaining good positioning, Kelly Oubre Jr. reaches deep into the cookie jar and fouls Fox.

But for funsies, let’s say Fox passes by Oubre. That presents two options for Fox based on how the help defenders reacted: 1. Quick shovel pass to Barnes or 2. Dump pass to a rolling Holmes. What occurs beyond that is obscure, of course, but both options are palatable; Barnes can shoot, and Holmes can score when rolling.

I mentioned earlier that Whiteside isn’t an ideal fit in these sets because of clogged spacing. But one of the nuances of the set is that Whiteside’s screening aptness is cooperative with Hield coming off a DHO. It’s a simple method that doesn’t require Whiteside to be a spacer; you just need a good screen on the wide pindown to free a lane for Hield.

Pressing Questions

Whether the Kings are equipped with the suitable personnel for this system to prosper is something we can’t takeaway after four preseason games, but there’s some questions I have after rewatching the games:

How does Marvin Bagley fit in?

Bagley played in the last two games of the preseason on a minutes restriction, and he only attempted one three. While Bagley’s three-point percentage from last season is perturbing, it was also a small sample size. Bagley’s one attempt went in and out, so if the shot progresses, I can see Bagley attempting threes from this set. Whether he’s playing as a four or five in those sets is an entirely different question.

Who else creates?

On paper, this set is designed to enhance Fox’s impact because of his playmaking abilities. Tyrese Haliburton displayed flashes of initiating, so if Walton is playing the rook, this aids Haliburton’s game too. We didn’t see Cory Joseph in this set because of back soreness, but he’s never held a reputation for playmaking. Guy, on the other hand, flaunted both initiating and shooting, which fits right in.

How will the long-range shooting fare?

Sacramento’s three-point shooting fell flat during the preseason. In four games, the team attempted a whopping total of 171 threes and only converted on...52. A rate of 30.4% on that volume is, to put it nicely, absolutely abysmal. That rate needs to significantly increase for the system to function at its desired effect.

In a league dominated by shooting and spacing, I’m all for Walton implementing this. In theory, the Kings have initiators (Fox, Haliburton, Guy (?)), shooters (Hield, Barnes, Bjelica, Robinson, etc.) and screeners (Holmes, Whiteside, Bagley (?), Parker (?)) to make it work. In practice, though these are small samples, it indicates a larger theme for this year’s roster that correlates to this system’s potential: still in progress.

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TheGrantNapear
December 22, 2020 3:49 pm

Monte was on the Woj Pod in case anyone is interested. Good listen.

RobHessing
December 22, 2020 4:04 pm

I’m waiting for the Luke-out offense.

Jman1949
December 22, 2020 5:16 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I knew we were already playing “Luke-out” 3-pt defense where we leave the other team’s shooters wide open, but shout “Luke out!” from 10 ft. away.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
December 22, 2020 4:14 pm

It appears t me that this system that Luke wants to implement does not match the roster makeup. If Holmes and Bagley are the starters, this isn’t going to work.

TheGrantNapear
December 22, 2020 4:19 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Holmes and Bagley isn’t working period, but maybe that’s the point, give that tank an assist.

Hamlet1989
December 22, 2020 6:23 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

If your still advocating for the tank, encouraging Bagley and Holmes to fire away from three may be the key to unlocking a lot of ping-pong balls.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
December 22, 2020 7:08 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

I agree it’s not good, and I’m all about the 2021 draft, but I wonder why Walton wants to run this system.

BeTheBall
December 22, 2020 8:52 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

My guess is that it’s because he’s never been a good head coach.

RORDOG
December 22, 2020 10:01 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I think it’s probably a good way to see if Bagley can be a more well-rounded player. The offense works when all players are willing to pass, cut, screen, dribble hand-off, attack the basket, keep the post open etc. etc.

To be honest, it’s kind of a sneaky way to force Bagley to develop into being a more unselfish player.

Otis
December 23, 2020 8:19 am
Reply to  RORDOG

It sounds a little bit like the Buddy Hield philosophy last season – and secondarily, focusing on the half-court offense early on.

We’re 0 for 2 so far, hopefully this one takes hold.

RORDOG
December 23, 2020 8:32 am
Reply to  Otis

The difference is Bagley is still a developing player, Buddy was a mostly finished product who had already signed his second contract. This gives the team an opportunity to better project the extent to which Bagley can contribute to winning basketball within a team concept.

and if you guys think Bagley shouldn’t be cutting, screening, driving, and making the right pass, then I don’t really know what to tell you.

Otis
December 23, 2020 8:36 am
Reply to  RORDOG

Oh, I wasn’t disagreeing with you conceptually on Bagley. They really do need to figure out what they have, since there are decisions to make on his longterm future.

I’m skeptical that he’ll develop as a stretch or a passing big, but do see the potential upside in focusing on those areas of his development.

RORDOG
December 23, 2020 8:51 am
Reply to  Otis

Yeah I have my doubts. I think it’s a good way to find out though for sure. But hopefully he understands the whole point of playing within a system is to generate easy opportunities for himself and his teammates.

RikSmits
December 23, 2020 8:43 am
Reply to  RORDOG

IMO, you first focus on playing to your young lottery picks’ strengths, let them get comfortable with the things they know and adapt to the speed of the NBA. Then you start building on other things that come less natural to them.

Of course we want Bagley to set proper screens and make the right passes. We also want Fox to be a better floor general in the half court. So maybe Walton was right in playing slow?

Otis
December 23, 2020 8:47 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Problem with Bagley is we’ve burned through two seasons of his rookie deal and really have no idea what he brings to the table for a winning basketball team. Time is of the essence now.

Kingsguru21
December 23, 2020 10:42 am
Reply to  Otis

Problem with Bagley is we’ve burned through two seasons of his rookie deal and really have no idea what he brings to the table for a winning basketball team. Time is of the essence now.

Would it really be that horrible if Bagley were to hit RFA? I’m not really advocating for this, but maybe there’s a situation where Bagley thinks he’s a max player, like John Collins, and the one season he has (this season of course) is what the FO is working off of. But more time is necessary. So, they come in with a reasonable extension offer next summer (hopefully, that is), but probably below Bagley’s market in summer 2022. Bagley doesn’t sign the extension, the worst that can happen is the Kings offer Bagley a max QO (5 year max, 25% of the cap). That’s what he’d get if he signed the max extension after year 3.

Max deals have a way of smoothing over hurt feelings.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kingsguru21
Otis
December 23, 2020 11:15 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Would it really be that horrible if Bagley were to hit RFA?

True – at this point, that does seem to be the preferable way to go.

Kingsguru21
December 23, 2020 11:43 am
Reply to  Otis

Just as an aside, but I just looked up the 21-22 salary numbers. If the Kings do get lucky and get the 1:1 (1st overall pick), they’ll still end up with about 104 million in guaranteed salary BEFORE resigning any of their FA’s like Richaun Holmes. And that doesn’t include the guaranteed salary of Cory Joseph either. That’s assuming the salary scale stays the same, as well. (I’m assuming no-one else would be resigned for anything more than the minimum.)

Letting Bogi go might have created more flexibility in terms of roster, but not more cap space as it turns. Given that there’s nobody truly game changing to really sign, that doesn’t bother me as much as it might’ve a week ago. But that’s also what happens when you have to offer up an extension to De’Aaron Fox and pick up Bagley’s last rookie option.

Just thought I’d put this out there.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kingsguru21
RikSmits
December 23, 2020 8:19 am
Reply to  RORDOG

Yeah, play to a guy’s weaknesses, sounds like a great plan. Worked well for Buddy, I guess?

This looks like trying to a square peg into a round hole, IMO.
Sounds bad for Bagley’s value, good for the tank.

RORDOG
December 23, 2020 12:00 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

This actually reminds me of a play that maybe can help prove my point. Here’s an example of how Bagley can help Buddy play to his strengths simply by playing more within a team concept:

comment image

It’s a pretty simple play really. Bagley and Holmes stagger screen for Buddy. Buddy curls around them, and has enough time to catch and shoot for a 4-point play. Buddy isn’t able to get to his spot without Bagley making the unselfish play. That’s how you can use two bigs out on the perimeter to effectively create space.

And here’s how keeping Bagley out of the paint can actually create easy buckets for Bagley:

comment image

That shot wasn’t create because Oubre respects Bagley’s jumper. Having Bagley cut to the basket wasn’t playing to a guy’s weaknesses. It’s the exact opposite. The spacing created an easy opportunity for Bagley to play to his strengths within a team concept.

Last edited 3 months ago by RORDOG
Timmy_13
December 22, 2020 4:23 pm

Guy and Kaminsky, who was cut by Sacramento while I was writing this, are two consummate players for this system.

This made me do a double take and scared me a bit lol

Hamlet1989
December 22, 2020 6:40 pm
Reply to  Timmy_13

The Suns quickly grabbed Kaminsky. I thought he actually looked surprisingly serviceable. Remember how deep the front court was to start last year? It wasn’t long before Giles was starting. It seemed an unlikely scenario during the off-season. Kaminsky could have ended up playing Giles role this year. I think the Kings depth is likely to be tested this year. I know it’s been brought up, but I still have an eerie feeling injuries will provide a vast reserve of fuel for the tank. And Covid could supercharge the tank allowing L’s to add up purely organically w/o anyone sacrificing any competitive effort.

Otis
December 23, 2020 8:22 am
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Kaminsky did indeed play well, but at 30 minutes total in the preseason, doesn’t seem he was in serious consideration for a roster spot.

TheKingsGuard
December 22, 2020 5:04 pm

Great content Sanjesh! Top notch work. Love reading these articles.

ForKingsandCountry
December 22, 2020 5:26 pm

This is OT but Wiseman looks pretty awesome for the Warriors. It’s not really the numbers but he is massive and he is leading fast breaks and shooting three’s. He is a ridiculously fluid athlete.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
December 22, 2020 5:32 pm

Yup, not bad for a 19 year old who hasn’t played a game in over a year. He’s only going to get better with experience.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
December 22, 2020 5:34 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Adding, as good as Wiseman looks, the Warriors don’t look like a playoff team in the West. There is no way they could replace Klay. Curry may need to have an MVP type year to get them to the playoffs.

Last edited 3 months ago by Adamsite
ForKingsandCountry
December 22, 2020 5:37 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Yeah the Warriors look terrible tonight. I don’t want to draw too many conclusions based off of one game but man it’s not pretty. I also think the Nets are going to be really good this year. Durant looks basically like Durant.

Henry
December 22, 2020 6:40 pm

I was surprised by the move for Oubre after Klay’s injury. Given the shortened year and no fans, it would have been another good year for them to get a high pick and extend the life of the dynasty long-term. Instead it felt like a desperation move to keep the window open, and paying a ton in tax for to boot. Feels a bit shortsighted to me.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
December 22, 2020 7:14 pm
Reply to  Henry

I agree. Their window is closing quickly and now they have the highest payroll by a mile, but they had to remain competitive with Curry and Klay in their primes.. Now, I’m not so sure they can even make the playoffs.

I’m ok with them getting Oubre on his expiring deal, but the Wiggins contract is going to be their anchor. What are they going to do with Oubre walks next summer? They are not going to have the cap space to sign anyone.

ArcoThunder
December 23, 2020 12:13 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Wisemen, Wiggens, Warriors 2021 second round pick for Buddy, Nemanja, whiteside and the Kings 2022 first round pick unprotected

Otis
December 23, 2020 8:24 am
Reply to  Henry

This is a franchise that won 73 games, then found a way to land Kevin Durant. They don’t play by the same rules as most of the rest of the league.

Kingsguru21
December 23, 2020 8:29 am
Reply to  Otis

They also have a fanbase that will quickly throw you under the bus if you’re being perceived as cheap. Bay sports fans are a very different animal.

Kingsguru21
December 23, 2020 8:31 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

They are the most successful Bay sports franchise since the Niners in the 80s. You don’t prematurely break that up, if you still care about the team 5 years from now.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kingsguru21
RowJimmy
December 22, 2020 10:28 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Wiseman looked good and without his points the Warriors lose by 45

SelecaoKOJ
December 22, 2020 11:35 pm
Reply to  RowJimmy

I don’t think the Dubs will be terrible. But, they won’t make the playoffs either. Clips, Lakers, Blazers, Rockets, Mavs, Nugs, and Jazz are locks, barring inury. That leaves one spot for the Suns and Pels. Grizz are also a maybe in that mix if Morant and Jackson take it to the next level.

ZillersCat
December 23, 2020 8:15 am
Reply to  SelecaoKOJ

That one spot is reserved for the Kings!

ArcoThunder
December 23, 2020 12:05 am
Reply to  Adamsite

they could get pretty damn close. His name is Buddy and he happens to be available,

Want2win
December 23, 2020 7:37 am

Wait.. what Kyle Guy was cut?.. I’ve been out of town and traveling and didn’t see this, I’m a bit surprised

Greg
Admin
December 23, 2020 8:19 am
Reply to  Want2win

Kaminsky was cut, not Guy

Want2win
December 23, 2020 8:34 am
Reply to  Greg

Thanks, I just reread the quote and it makes sense that it was just Kaminsky

ZillersCat
December 23, 2020 8:19 am
Reply to  Want2win

That would be breaking news banner stuff.

Kingsguru21
December 23, 2020 8:35 am
Reply to  ZillersCat

And you would be tasked with that task of breaking news, ZC.

Thank goodness we don’t have to wish you godspeed and good luck!

Kingsguru21
December 23, 2020 8:25 am

Excellent post Sanjesh. Keep ’em comin’!

Otis
December 23, 2020 8:28 am

This was really well done, Sanjesh. Pretty invaluable to have this type of detail available to analyze.

The first clip of the second game reminded me – when Richaun shoots the three pointer, it looks like the ball weighs 10 pounds!

RobHessing
December 23, 2020 8:41 am

This is an insanely informative piece, certainly one that took a great deal of time & effort. Kudos.

Otis
December 23, 2020 9:54 am

NBA season starting out strong:

ZillersCat
December 23, 2020 11:34 am
Reply to  Otis

Closing it down is an option? I’m not that excited for Covid Basketball.
I don’t want to see teams folding though. I’d very much want to see a Seattle expansion in spite of bad timing. Which has been somewhat in the news.
https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/seattles-climate-pledge-arena-will-be-ready-if-nba-announces-expansion-plans-developer-says/

Last edited 3 months ago by ZillersCat
Kingsguru21
December 23, 2020 11:46 am
Reply to  ZillersCat

Is the SODO arena still on track? I stopped paying attention a long time ago. Seattle civic politics annoys the living shit out of me, to say the least. And I live in Sacramento for chrissake which isn’t any better.

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