It drives me crazy. That's the guy you want to be on offense. This man is incredible to watch without the ball. He's everywhere and the guy guarding him just gets ran all over the floor the entire game. Take some time and watch him play offense. He goes from side to side and when he passes he cuts or comes off another pick. He's an amazing example of someone to watch who demonstrates how it's truly done. Some of the keys in moving without the ball are, understanding what each player's role is in the play, the purpose of every play and keeping a strong eye on maintaining proper spacing.
It doesn't do any good to run around just to run around. Bad idea, you'll just make people mad. It has to have a purpose. When making a cut, make sure nobody is already at the spot you are heading towards.
Don't cut at the same time as another player. Have a purpose behind each movement. In college we ran a series of backdoor cuts that worked at a high percentage. It was amazing how often it worked. I look at it now with hindsight and understand why it worked. Our backdoor was done against the right defense, no post players were blocking the play and the spacing was correct.
Let's break that down a little bit. Is a backdoor going to work against most zones? No, of course not. So call the right play first. Second, make sure that the purpose of the play is laid out. The purpose of every play is to get the best shot possible. Third, spacing must be maintained. Good offensive players understand that they should never be in a position where 1 player can guard 2 offensive players.
Spacing has to be maintained and understood at all times. The destruction of every little league offense is a lack of understanding spacing. It drives me crazy at times when coaches don't teach spacing. However, some of the most important work in basketball is done before a player even catches the ball. There are guys that can score, but many times those individuals struggle against teams that really buckle down defensively. What really makes a basketball player successful in the guts of the game?
Obviously the first thing we think of is skill and that is an important attribute to have. These individuals know the value of possessions and getting open. Depending on how your team plays, whether it be mainly motion, sets, or a combination of the two, moving without the ball is critical.
The ability to set up a defender and create spacing gives the offensive player a huge advantage. When you can catch the ball wherever you want, and create spacing based on your offensive scheme, it puts a ton of pressure on the defense. That being said, how can you teach players to master this skill?
Some players have an innate ability to read their defender and figure it out naturally, however, most players do not. One of the biggest things that can wreck an offensive scheme is when the defense pushes out so far that the offensive execution becomes ineffective. The biggest mistake players make, is they want to take the easy route or push off with their hands; a lot of the time it boils down to laziness. Players who have the discipline to battle and grind with footwork give themselves an advantage against their defender.
Some of the best ways to set up your defender are to change the direction of your cuts, change the speed of your cuts, and step in the middle of their stance or into the defender before making a cut. Too many times players go through the motions on V-cuts or L-cuts. L-cuts can be similar, but players really give themselves an advantage when they battle for the top foot before they make the cut; the ability to step into your defender and sprint away creates separation.
As we know in basketball, sometimes a split-second is the difference between a win and a loss. Here is a video and some links to other videos teaching how to use different types of basketball cuts, and types on moving without the ball in basketball game situations.