NBA Offense – Spurs Hammer Play

NBA Offense – Spurs Hammer Play

The San Antonio Spurs’ Hammer Play helps the team’s best shooters get open three point corner shots. The Spurs usually run different variations of this particular set in any given game.

They also have different counter options to use if the set breaks down but I have not studied those enough yet to include them in this post. So, for the time being, I’m just posting a couple of the actions that I thought were very interesting.


Why the Hammer Action is Effective

Why The Hammer Action is Effective | Spurs Hammer Play

Quick Legend

1 = ball handler
2 = shooter
5 = back screener
X2 = defender of shooter
X5 = defender of back screener

When 1 dribble drives towards the baseline, X5 has to make a choice : Protect the basket or give up the potential layup.

Usually, X5 will leave their man (5) to protect the basket.

This means that when the back screen is set by 5, no potential switch would occur because X5 is in the lane protecting the basket.

The only way to really render this action ineffective is to fight through the screen and close out on the shooter before the shot is taken. However, this is very tough to do because X2 usually does not see the back screen coming.


Hammer Action – Hand Off

Hammer Hand Off | Spurs Hammer Play

For this set, 3 is the initiator.

3 passes to 1 and immediately follows that pass.

1 executes a hand-back to 3 who dribbles drives towards the baseline.

As that action occurs, 2 drifts down to the deep corner while 5 sets a back screen on 2’s defender.

3 makes the drift pass across the lane to 2 in the deep corner.

2 shoots the open three point shot.


Hammer Action – Cross Screen and Pop – Part 1

Hammer Cross Screen and Pop - Part 1 | Spurs Hammer Play

In the original set, 1 runs a little loop action from the deep wing but I changed it into a box set 🙂

For this Hammer variation, the shooter is the play initiator.

1 comes up high towards the top of the key.

2 reverses the ball to 1 while 4 walks down toward the mid post acting as a decoy.


Hammer Action – Cross Screen and Pop – Part 2

Hammer Cross Screen and Pop - Part 2 | Spurs Hammer Play

When 1 receives the ball, 2 immediately goes to set a cross screen near the right elbow for 3.

3 comes off that screen and sprints to the left wing area.

2 also pops out to the right wing area.

1 reverses the ball back to 2 now.


Hammer Action – Cross Screen and Pop – Part 3

Hammer Cross Screen and Pop - Part 3 | Spurs Hammer Play

3 immediately drives to the basket after receiving the ball.

If 2 set a good screen, 3 should have an advantage on the defender X2.

At the same time, 4 pops out filling the spot previously held by 3.

From here, X5 will probably leave 5 to protect the basket.

As that action occurs, 5 goes to set a back screen on 2’s defender.

2 drifts down to the deep corner.

3 makes the drift pass to 2 who shoots the open three point shot.