Every year on every level of basketball, someone brings up the first rule of the first Layer of Read & React; the first rule that never changes; the one rule that even those vaguely familiar with Read & React have heard of:

IF YOU PASS ONE SPOT AWAY, EITHER EAST-WEST (perimeter) OR NORTH-SOUTH (into the post), YOU MUST CUT TO THE BASKET. (Henceforth referred to as “THE RULE”)

Most recently, I heard it from a coaching friend in Tennessee, who almost apologetically, said, “We don’t score much from Pass & Cut anymore.”

Perhaps the coach meant that the team did not score much from Front Cuts or Rear Cuts anymore. Perhaps the coach really meant that since they don’t score much from Front or Rear Cuts, then passing and making a legitimate scoring cut to the basket is a hard sell to the players.

Regardless, I want to visit “THE RULE” again because if one coach will say it, then about 1,000 might be thinking it.

Perhaps your team is not scoring on their cuts because they don’t look for them or put much effort into them – like they did the first year you ran the R&R. This could be the case because I have some veteran teams, on all levels, that still regularly and consistently score with Pass&Cut.

Perhaps the teams you’ve been playing have raised their level of defense for this particular action. That’s more than possible – I’ve seen it happen. If I were your opponent, I would prepare my players to defend the Pass&Cut because it happens every time the ball moves!

But that’s not the direction I want to go. Let’s assume that you don’t score on Pass&Cut anymore. In fact, let’s assume you never score with a Front Cut or a Rear Cut – ever again! Is it worth it? My answer is YES and here’s why:

“THE RULE” is a SET-UP-CUT more than it is a SCORING CUT. Always cutting to the basket SETS UP the following:

Draft Drive
Oops Drive
Real Estate Drive
A chance for the cutter to Post-Up
Logo Shots
Logo Moves
Logo Dish
Logo Pitch
Read Line Rear Cut by the Filler
Curl the Puppydog by the Filler
Open Shot by the Filler
Momentum Move by the Filler
Those are the obvious and immediate opportunities created by a basket cut – oops, I meant a “Set-Up-Cut”

In addition to the obvious, a cut to the basket is a chance for the cutter to make a Decision. How can you make a decision from our DECISION BOX (the lane) if you don’t get your feet into the lane? If we don’t get players without the ball making decisions, then the only player making decisions will be the ballhandler! We’ve cut the offense in half! Let’s list a few broad decisions the cutter can make when their feet have hit the lane:

Screen for the post
Back Screen anyone on the perimeter
Set a Pin Screen on your way out
Use a Pin Screen on your way out
Set a Ball Screen
Fill out to an empty spot and stretch the defense

That’s quite a few reasons for THE RULE to be THE RULE! That’s why Passing & Cutting is the lifeblood or circulation system for the Read & React. It SETS-UP so many other teammates that I have trouble listing them!

Perhaps I should call it “False Offense” since none of the traditional thinkers have a problem with their players making cuts that do not threaten the rim.