What Are Shallow Cuts In Basketball?

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When you are talking about different basketball skills that any player needs to learn, cutting is one of the key ways that any player can use to get an excellent opportunity to score off the ball and open different scoring opportunities for teammates. While plenty of different cuts in basketball are designed to allow the cutter to score, the shallow cut is a simple cut that is often used to give the other players a chance to get a good shot. 

What is a Shallow Cut in Basketball

What is a Shallow Cut in Basketball?

Any young player learning how to play the sport should know what is cutting in basketball. In most cases, the primary goal of a cut is to allow an off-ball player to get to a good scoring position, depending on how the defense reacts. However, not all cuts are designed only for the cutter to score. This is where shallow cuts come in. But what are shallow cuts in basketball?

A shallow cut in basketball is designed to allow the ball-handler and the cutter to exchange positions out on the court. This usually happens when both the ball-handler and the cutter are out on the perimeter but in totally different court spots. The key of the shallow cut is to allow the defense to move and adjust based on how the ball-handler and cutter move.

In a shallow cut, the cutter should move under the defense towards the original position of the ball-handler. As the cutter is cutting behind the defense, the ball-handler now dribbles out on the perimeter towards the cutter’s original position. The goal of the cutter is to exchange positions with the ball-handler in this situation.

The benefit of using a shallow cut is that it provides plenty of different opportunities to the team depending on how the defense reacts to the movements of both the ball-handler and the cutter. While the gist of the shallow cut involves the ball-handler and the cutter exchanging positions, the rest of the players on the court are moving according to how they read the offense.

Because the defense needs to adjust to the movements of both the ball-handler and the cutter and the other players on the court, it becomes difficult for the defense to keep up with all of the different things happening on the side the attacking team. This will eventually allow other players the opportunity to roll to the basket or spot up for an open jumper when some defenders make mistakes while trying to keep up with all of the movements going on.

How to Use Shallow Cuts in Basketball

How to Use Shallow Cuts in Basketball

When you want to use the shallow cut in basketball, your goal as a cutter is to simply find a way to exchange positions with the ball-handler. In most cases, this play involves a wing player cutting to get a good position on the perimeter or outside the three-point line. Meanwhile, the role of the primary ball-handler while dribbling into the former position of the cutter is to see how the floor is developing so that plays can be made out of the different movements on the court.

The shallow cut can be used in any situation, especially if the team is full of players willing enough to move without the ball, even without the ball-handler calling out a play. This is also an ideal play to run for teams with plenty of wing shooters because the shallow cut allows the players to take advantage of the floor spacing.

The scoring opportunities of a shallow cut are usually the same as those present during a V cut or an L cut. When the cutting player cuts behind the defense and then relocates to where the ball-handler was previously positioned, there is a chance that the cutter leaves the defender behind, especially when a teammate sets an off-ball screen somewhere in the middle of the cutting motion. In such a situation, the cutting player may end up with an open three-point shot. And even if the defender manages to recover, the cutter can take advantage of the situation by using the defender’s momentum against them to drive to the basket.

However, the significant part about the shallow cut is that the ball-handler has plenty of different options. As the ball-handler dribbles towards the former position of the cutter, a return pass can be made to the relocated cutter. The ball-handler can also perform a drive and dish when a teammate rolls to the basket in response to how the defense adjusts to the cut. But if the ball-handler sees that the floor opened up on the wing when the cutter decides to relocate, the ball-handler can also try to drive to the basket for a layup.

The goal of the shallow cut is to open plenty of different opportunities to the ball-handler and the cutter and the other teammates who took advantage of how the defense reacted. It is a play designed to allow different players to learn how to read and respond to how the defense adjusts to the different movements on the court.

3 Shallow Cut Basketball Drills

3 Shallow Cut Basketball Drills

If you are want to make your players learn how to perform the shallow cut, here are three different drills that can be useful:

1. Basic shallow cut

  • Player 1 is the ball-handler that is positioned on the top of the key.
  • Meanwhile, player 2 is the cutting wing player positioned on one of the wings.
  • The goal of player 2 is to make a curl-shaped cut behind the defense. Player 2 can go as deep as possible by cutting through the paint. But cutting through the elbow area can be just fine.
  • As player 2 is cutting behind the defense, player 1 now needs to dribble to player 2’s former position out on the wing.
  • Player 1 should now pass the ball to player 2 to exchange their roles wherein player 1 becomes the cutter and player 2 becomes the ball-handler.
  • Repeat the cycle as necessary. The goal here is to allow the players to master the movement even without performing any scoring activities.

2. Shallow cut return pass and shoot

  • Players 1 and 2 reprise their role in the basic shallow cut movement.
  • The key of this drill is to allow player 2 to learn how to shoot off of a shallow cut whenever a defender gets left behind during the cut.
  • Player 2 will begin cutting behind the defense while player 1 dribbles the basketball towards player 2’s former position.
  • As player 1 is dribbling, player 2 should now quickly spot up to the top of the key.
  • Player 1 should now pass the ball to player 2.
  • The goal of player 2 is to shoot the ball shortly after relocating to the top of the key.

3. Shallow cut drive

  • Players 1 and 2 reprise their roles in the basic shallow cut drill.
  • This time, the drill’s goal is to allow player 1 to perform a quick drive to the basket while player 2 is relocating. The key here is for player 2 to pull defenders out while relocating so that player 1 can have an open driving lane.
  • Player 2 cuts behind the defense. The deeper the cut, the better.
  • As player 2 is cutting, player 1 should dribble the ball to the wing at a steady speed.
  • The moment that player 2 is now cutting towards the top of the key to relocate, player 1 should now perform a quick change of pace and drive the ball to the basket.

Here is a video of how to use shallow cut in basketball:

Other Types of Basketball Cuts

Other Types of Basketball Cuts

There are also plenty of different cuts that allow a player to have scoring opportunities similar to what the shallow cut opens. As such, here is a helpful basketball cuts list that you may want to look at:

1. V cut

The V cut is a cut that opens up scoring opportunities that are similar to the shallow cut. The cutter does in a V cut to move from the corner or the wing to the low post spot at a steady speed. When the cutter has reached the low post, the goal is to change the pace and quickly run from the post to the wing for an open scoring opportunity.

2. L cut

Like the V cut, the L cut also allows the cutter to have scoring opportunities similar to the shallow cut. The cutter usually starts from the low post position. The cutter moves straight to the elbow at a steady pace from the post and would then quickly change up the speed to cut to the wing for an open scoring opportunity.

3. Deep cut

If there is a shallow cut, there is also a deep cut. The goal of the deep cut is not to exchange positions with the ball-handler. Instead, the cutter in the deep cut starts from a far-off wing spot on the floor and then cuts deep behind the defense and perhaps even behind the basket to relocate to the opposite corner or wing.

Wrapping Things Up: What are Shallow Cuts in Basketball?

Unlike the other types of basketball cuts, the good thing about the shallow cut is that it can also involve all of the other teammates on the floor as they can read and react to how the defense is playing the cut. Because there are plenty of different movements happening, the shallow cut opens scoring opportunities to either the ball-handler or the cutter and the other players on the court.

Shallow cuts are often used in the flow of a motion or a dribble-handoff offense because they fit the entire offensive scheme. Think of how the Golden State Warriors use different off-ball movements, cuts, and screens to get their shooters and rim runners free. This is why teams that incorporate the shallow cut into their motion offenses tend to be very successful at finding open shot opportunities for everyone on the court.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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