Spurs Playbook: Diving into how San Antonio runs their half-court sets

Feb 28, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich calls a play
Feb 28, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich calls a play / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Antonio Spurs are only three games into their regular season schedule, and there has been no shortage of opinions on how they are structuring their offense around Victor Wembanyama. With the youngest roster in the NBA, it only makes sense that Gregg Popovich wants his team to push the pace in transition to capitalize on their fresh legs and extraordinary athleticism.

Though this rebuilding ball club has leaned into an up-tempo approach, there is no avoiding the harsh reality of their half-court struggles that come with inexperience and a lack of chemistry. Attacking set defenses has been a problem from the moment their home opener started, but Coach Pop has pulled out a handful of familiar plays to ease his talented players into an organized system.

1.) Pistol Double Drag

The Spurs ran pistol offense on this sequence, where Jeremy Sochan initiates a dribble handoff out of the left corner with Devin Vassell. This action flows into a double drag screen at the top of the key from Collins and Wembanyama. Wembanyama then pops out beyond the arc and drains a three-ball for the first points of his NBA career.

There are a few things that make this set so effective. 1.) Devin executes a concept called "dragging it out" after rounding the corner, forcing Kyrie and Maxi Kleber to gravitate toward him to stop the threat of his midrange jumper. 2.) Grant Williams and Kleber are in drop coverage, an enormous advantage in creating room for Wembanyama to shoot. 3.) Collins rolls to the basket, which removes the possibility of Williams helping on the kick out to Victor.

The five-out spacing on this possession also works wonders for San Antonio since Derrick Jones Jr. and Luka Doncic respect Keldon and Sochan enough to stay home to them in the corners. Kyrie was a little slow navigating the initial screens, and that only helped Vassell draw two defenders to the ball.