Video Breakdown: What is an Iverson Cut?

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Last time we broke down a piece of the NBA lexicon in our glossary series we covered just what in the heck “Pistol” action meant. Like today’s breakdown, that was a simple part of a larger sphere of offensive actions that can get plays going quickly. Today we continue in that realm to talk about a move that Hall of Famer Allen Iverson made so ubiquitous that NBA coaches just started calling the action “The Iverson Cut”.

You may or may not have heard the term Iverson Cut before but it’s likely you’ve seen it about a million times over the course of your basketball-watching career. It’s sometimes referred to as a shallow cut, and plays can be labeled simply with “AI”.

Watch the full video explanation above, or continue on below to start by drawing it up on the chalkboard first to show you the basic action before we see it in practice.

The Diagram

An Iverson Cut typically starts out in a flat play or in HORNs, with a point guard at the top, two posts at the elbows, and guards either at the wings or down in the corners. The player making the Iverson cut is labeled here with a star and ball is at the top of the arc.

The basic idea is that the star guard is going to get two screens across the top of the key, right at the free throw line. He will move up and across the formation, trying to rub his defender off of him as he moves to the opposite side of the arc.

After the cut is made, there’s a lot of options including a quick shot, a backdoor cut to the rim after the second post screen, isolation, post up plays, or a swing back to the other side of the floor to star the rest of the play.

On the floor

For example, this set by the Warriors is actually a setup for Kevin Durant on the other side of the floor from where he starts out.

Klay Thompson is on the right part of the arc, standing flat next to Zaza Pachulia ready for the first screen. Thompson runs AI simply to clear space for Durant, who the Warriors want to get a jumper from at the elbow.

Here for the Brooklyn Nets, it’s Bojan Bogdanovic running the Iverson cut from the far side of the formation. This is just a quick action to start another simple play.

Bogdanovic gets a screen from Brook Lopez at the right elbow, then runs across to the opposite 3-point line. At that point, Jeremy Lin sets a screen for Lopez, who cuts diagonally to the left block in order to get the inlet pass to the post from Bogdanovic.

Just a simple post play!

Finally here for the Blazers, it’s a modified type of Iverson cut for Gerald Henderson. The twist is that Henderson stops to dummy a screen on CJ McCollum before continuing on to his second screen as he runs to the arc.

That’s the basics on the Iverson Cut.

It’s something simple that a lot of teams run for their guards to get them open on the arc. It’s a great way to create negative space on offense to either start a play or get a quick bucket for one of your top scorers.

If you want to see more on the Iverson Cut, I’m going to recommend set of videos I did on the Blazers last year that covers their Thumb Series. Portland runs a lot of modified screens based on the Iverson cut they run to get their guards going horizontally across the formation. It should give you a good idea about how offensive plays can be built around that initial Iverson cut.

Kobe Bryant still has it, bounces shot in from near half court

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This was a Nike gala, an event with a basketball theme. The court was lit up from below, there were tables at half court, and people had drinks in their hands.

Kobe Bryant was there, stylishly dressed in black. So was famous model Winnie Harlow.

Know that regardless of the setting, Kobe still has game.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala cleared to play vs. Pelicans Friday

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Without Draymond Green in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the opener, and with Andre Iguodala out for the game, the Warriors defense fell apart against Houston. The Rockets scored 34 points in the quarter and came from behind to beat a Warriors team that had been in control of the game up to that point. There was more to it than just Green’s balky knee, but without the Defensive Player of the Year they are not the same.

Bad news for the Pelicans: Green and Iguodala have been cleared to play in New Orleans Friday. Green had an MRI and it came back negative.

Green admitted he was concerned that the injury, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Now it is the Pelicans who should be concerned. The Warriors will want to wash the feeling of that opening night loss off them.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

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With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

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The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.