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The Duke Motion Offense- By Don Kelbick
For the most part, this motion is run as a 3 out/2 in offense. Lately, though, I have seen quite a bit of 4 out offense. The motion is spacing based. The perimeter players pass and cut through the middle and reset on the perimeter. The combination of the spacing and cutting through the middle continually opens up driving lanes. This allows for penetrate and kickout opportunities, that have become a staple of this offense, that result in many 3-point opportunities.
On the perimeter, they like to occupy the wings and corners, using the high post for reversals. This gives them the spacing and driving lanes they need to get penetration. They use the dribble to drive those lanes and also often use the high post to ball screen.
In the interior, when running as a 3 out/2 in offense, the post players screen for one another. If you think back to all those foul line jump shots that Christian Laetner used to shoot, most of them were as a result of the other post player screening for him. They often look high-low after a post exchange. A key is how the low post is being played. If the low post is being defended from the back, they will look at a direct pass into the low post. If the low post is fronted, they will look high to the high post, who will then look into the low post.
An additional emphasis of the offense is to get the ball to the low post. Not only are they very aggressive in trying to score in the post, they pass out very effectively, usually as a reversal.
In recent years they have used more and more sets and quick hitter plays as entries to their motion. They have had some great shooters and this has provided those shooters with some early opportunities. It also allows them to generate pace. An early shot off a trigger play will get the tempo up to a level at which they can excel.
Duke's motion uses the dribble more than many traditional motion offenses. They have recruited players that can drive hard and finish at the basket. The effectiveness of their driving game is another aspect of their motion that makes the drive and kick out more difficult to play against.
In the big picture, Duke's motion offense is a player driven offense that emphasizes spacing and driving the ball to the basket as opposed to ball movement and cuts. This is an adjustment that shows how adaptable the offense is to current players and trends.
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