What is The Triangle Offense?

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The Triangle Offense, popularized by Phil Jackson and his Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Laker teams, has its roots in Tex Winter's Triple Post offense of the 1950's. Winter, who has been coaching for close to 50 years, has been Jackson's assistant throughout Jackson's NBA coaching career.

The Triangle gets its name from the strong side formation and spacing of the players. On the initial cut, the players are separated into a 3 man set on the ball side and a 2-man game on the weakside. On the entry pass to the wing, the guard makes either an inside cut or an outside cut and sets in the corner. The low post then cuts to the ball side creating a triangle with the wing, corner and low post.

On the weakside, the wing rotates up for reversal and the other post player positions himself for an offensive opportunity whether it be a shot drive or screen opportunity. It the ball is reversed, a cutter is sent to the ball side corner and the post follows to the low post recreating the triangle formation on the ball side.

The Triangle Offense is a read and react offense. After passing, the cutters react to the defense and take what is given. To create the triangle, a variety of options can be used. Among them can be:

  • Pass and guard outside cut
  • Pass and guard inside cut
  • Dribble Clear
  • Off guard cut through
  • Post pop to baseline
  • Dribble handoff
A direct pass to the post, either from the wing or the corner, is a primary objective of the offense. How the post is played defensively is also an important read for the players. If the post is player from behind, the emphasis becomes getting the ball into the post and play off of that. If the post is fronted, the read is to throw the ball to the top and either go inside of a seal or reverse the ball.

If the ball is reversed, there is a variety of 2 man game options. Among them might be:

  • Handoff and drive
  • Handoff jumpshot
  • Handoff and roll
  • Pass and go Drive
  • Screen and roll
  • Slip screen
  • Screen and pop
Because of the unlimited number of reads, options and reaction in this offense, the Triangle is not an easy offense to teach or learn. It requires time and a continuity of players from season to season to be truly effective. If you have a number of players who can score, it can be a great choice as an offense.

For a more thorough explanation, check out the article How to Run the Triangle Offense.

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Amber says:
2/3/2020 at 11:28:58 PM

So I always loved basketball but don’t actively play, partly cuz I’m busy in grad school. Anyways my older bro n I have this decades long 2K tournament and he used to always beat me but now it’s not that uncommon for me to beat him after I learned how to set picks etc. Basically my question is are there any books/videos/articles etc. I can read to understand the theory strategy behind the game? Everytime I think I find someone getting at the science of it, it goes into drills and coaching tips. I might be using vague terminology but as a comparison, I beat my football fanatic fam at madden by learning all about the different zone/man defenses like cover 2, offensive formations, audibles etc. and beat him by just understanding the game itself, that’s the kind of knowledge/resource I’m into, like I’m the type that reads textbooks for fun lol


Wesley says:
3/8/2014 at 5:13:38 PM

This one has diagrams:


Wesley says:
3/8/2014 at 5:11:39 PM

Can you get a diagram and/or pictures?


rob says:
8/15/2013 at 11:19:54 PM

The best well oiled machine runs with rythum and is finally tuned for any condition. In basketball terms, offensivelly, you want to move the ball in order to achieve the highest percentage shot. Defensively you want to take away that high percentage shot. It can be done with even a good team. Start with pick and roles, 3 on 3, remember, talk, pick left pick right,shot, get hand up screen out etcc... also defensively fight to get through the screen legally. As magic said no your fundamentals, even if you are a pro.


timmy says:
1/7/2012 at 1:31:17 AM

needs to have a diagram


Chrisso says:
7/25/2010 at 3:14:28 AM

1-4 set, score using backdoor cuts or pick and rolls between the high posts and the outside guards


simwale says:
1/3/2010 at 10:00:55 AM

sum executions for offense are too complicated for youths,need something for ages from 15-19 years.thank you.


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