Good floor spacing is absolutely critical to the success of an offense. There are many different offensive styles of play for a coach to choose from. But no style of play requires 2 or 3 players to be standing right next to each other during any given play. Proper spacing does a couple of things that are beneficial to any offense.
First, it creates bigger gaps for an offensive player to drive the ball. Second, it makes it impossible for one defender to guard 2 offensive players. For example, a player drives the ball baseline; the help comes and the player looks to skip the ball to the weak side of the floor. Typically in this type of situation, there is one defender left on the weak side to cover 2 offensive players.
If the 2 players are standing right next to each other, then it makes it possible for the 1 defender to essentially guard both of them. If they are properly spaced, then the defender must make a choice of who he will take, leaving one player with an open shot the majority of the time.
2) "Golden Rule" - Make the Extra Pass
There may be times throughout a game when a player has a relatively open shot. However, often times, there is a teammate who could potentially have an even better look. Let's take a look at the scenario that played out above; when the ball is skipped to the weak side of the floor and 1 defender is left to guard 2 offensive players.
Off of the initial skip, the receiver of the pass could potentially have an open shot. But the common and natural reaction of the defender is to close out to the player with the ball. When this happens, the other offensive player could very well be completely wide open.
If the player with the ball passes up a good shot to pass to his teammate for a great shot, then that is good offense. Making the extra pass not only gets your team better shots, it also breeds trust and confidence within your team. It creates an unselfish atmosphere where each player loves getting his teammate a great shot.
3) Play Through the Post
Regardless of the style of offense you run, it is absolutely vital that your center gets some touches in the post. Your center could be the least talented player offensively on the team, but it is still important that he gets the ball in the post. Getting the ball in the post can open up the floor for the offense.
It allows for cutters to get through. It forces the defense to react and reposition. And of course, in the event that you have a very good post player, it allows your center the opportunity to go to work. If he is good enough to demand a double team, then it guarantees an open teammate somewhere on the floor. Whatever the case may be for you, it is essential that your offense is focused on getting the ball into the post every possession.
4) Set Great Screens
A good screen can be the difference between an open shot and a guarded shot, a made basket and a missed basket, or just a completed pass and a turnover. Proper screening is so important to the success of an offense, and it is often an overlooked and undervalued skill. You give me a center that can rebound, defend, and set great screens, and I will find time to play him in the game.
So much focus today is placed on individual offensive skill and ability that people forget how important it is to be able to get a teammate open for a shot. A great screen is physical, strong, well-positioned, and of course legal. Whatever your style of play, be sure to not neglect screening as a focal part of your offense.
5) Take Great Shots
This sounds easy enough, but it amazes me the volume of bad shots that are taken each and every game. I am convinced that if all you did as a coach was get your players to take only great shots, you would be a very hard team to beat, regardless your skill level or ability. But what defines a great shot?
Some people might think that an open shot is a great shot. I would disagree. As a coach, you need to know your players and their abilities and limitations. A great shot for one player is likely a terrible shot for another. I don't believe in handcuffing your players and completely taking away their freedom within the offense, but I do believe in realistic conversations and an honest approach to each player's game.
Let's say a player is a lights out 3 point shooter, but really struggles finishing at the rim. I might tell him that any time he has an ounce of daylight outside the arc, you have to shoot it. But if you are forced to put the ball on the floor and there is defense waiting in the lane, then it is probably best to look to distribute the ball to your teammates.
Great offensive efficiency is attainable for any program and offensive style. If you value the 5 things I have laid out above, I promise you will see great improvements in your overall success as an offense. Remember, always have proper spacing on the floor, make the extra pass, play through the post, set great screens, and only take great shots. Do these things and playing offense will become fun for everyone involved!