Although a ball handler has the freedom to do anything (almost) within the structure of the Read & React, certainly we can all agree that given the situation, the defense, the player, etc, one action will present itself as best.
We call this the Next Best Action (NBA).
Below are four easy NBA reads for a wing or corner player with a ball-side post player.
There are only four ways that a post player can be defended in a man-to-man: on the top side, on the baseline side, full front, and completely behind. Each of these can be a cue for a wing or corner perimeter player.
With a post defender on the top side, drive below the post. A drive below the post forces the post to slide up the lane toward the elbow. This slide will take the defender up the lane with her preventing her from helping on the drive. If the drive is stopped by another help defender, the post player still has her defender sealed on the top side and may be open moving toward the goal.
With a post defender on the low side, drive above the post. A drive above the post forces the post slide down to the Short Corner. What does the defender do? If she goes with the slide or gets sealed by the slide, the lane opens up. If she fights around the seal and helps, the sliding post is open.
With a post defender behind, feed the post and cut. When a post player has a defender on her back she deserves to be given the ball. A perimeter player should feed the post, then make one of the four post cuts. There’s nothing special about this one, but you’re playing your post ball-side for a reason so as far as I’m concerned, getting the post the ball is a great Next Best Action.
With a post defender fronting, perimeter pass and cut. A post defender in a complete front position takes away the direct post feed and is quickly available for help. But, it does leave her vulnerable to a couple of other threats. If the perimeter player passes to the point, the post should be able to seal her defender enough to get the post feed from the top. If that seal isn’t open or the post doesn’t want it, the cutting passer can use the post as a screen. The fronting post defender is in poor position to help on the screen. The cutter can be open for a lay-up.
Remember, these are not rules. These are just little reads that you can point out to your players (or drill) that may help them decide the Next Best Action. Imagine how sharp your team could be if each of your players were performing the NBA on each touch.
You can do this too. Determine those situations that your team finds itself in often and work on developing some cues to help them decide which next action is best. It could be based on the defense (like in the above situation) or the game scenario or the player with the ball. Be creative, but practical. You don’t want to overload your players with too many things to think about. Remember, thinking players are slow reactors.