What Are L Cuts in Basketball?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


Basketball is such a team sport that you do not always have to have the ball to score baskets. Knowing how to move and score without the ball in your hands is one of the key skills that any young player should learn as early as possible. Knowing how to perform cuts such as the L cut can be an advantage for any player.

Knowing how to do an L cut the right way can help make a player a dangerous weapon even without the ball. Learning how to use timely cuts can also be effective in helping the offense flow more and improve the team’s overall spacing. But what exactly are L cuts in basketball?

What are L Cuts in Basketball

What are L Cuts in Basketball?

Basketball is a game that involves knowing how to be effective even without the ball in your hands. This is why there are numerous off-ball movements that you need to learn to help generate points for your team or improve the overall flow of the offense without necessarily being the one handling the ball. This is why learning how to do basketball cuts are important for overall player development.

The L cut is one of the best cuts that you can use to score points off the ball or give your team more offensive options. Unlike other types of such as the basketball backdoor cut, which focuses on cutting to the basket, the L cut is a more versatile perimeter-oriented cut that allows you to choose your options after cutting.

The main gist of the L cut is for a player to start from the low post. The player then moves to the high post area near the free-throw line and then to the perimeter wing to complete an L-shaped movement. The goal of the L cut is to allow the cutting players to shake their defenders off using sharp off-ball movements and screens that can be set on any of the spots the players run through during the entire cut.What are L Cuts in Basketball

How to Use L Cut to Score in Basketball

How to Use L Cut to Score in Basketball

The L cut is more of a guard-oriented cut that focuses on getting a perimeter scorer open whenever a defender is glued on him the entire offensive set. It opens up an off-ball guard so that the team could have plenty of options to go to whenever the ball handler is at the top of the key, looking for a play to develop.

In most cases, what guards or perimeter scorers do during an L cut is to take their defenders to the low post, either on the right or left side. After that, the guard can either seal the defender down at the post without necessarily asking for the ball. Another option is to use the body to bump the defender a bit before performing the L cut. The goal is to get defenders off-balanced enough to make it more difficult for them to recover or follow the cutting players during the entire movement.

From there, the player should make a straight line movement towards the elbow or the high post just beside the free-throw line. If there is a screen, the cutting player should be wise enough to use it to keep the defender out of the play. After moving to the elbow, the movement should continue from the elbow to the wing perimeter spot either inside or outside the three-point line depending on the range of the player.

The ball handler positioned at the top of the key now has plenty of options here. This player can drive to the basket depending on how the defense reacts to the cutting player’s movements. If a pass is available inside the paint when it opens up and a different player makes a backdoor cut, the ball handler can shoot a pass to the cutter for an easy layup. However, if the player performing the L cut could shake the defender off well enough, the ball handler could pass the ball to the wing.How to Use L Cut to Score in Basketball

If the ball handler manages to get the ball to the player that performed an L cut, this player now has plenty of options to use. The first option that opens up if the defender could not recover in time or was screened off is to shoot. The L cut is great at opening jump shot opportunities for perimeter players regardless if it is a two-pointer or a three-pointer. But if the defender could recover, the player now has a chance to use the defender’s momentum against them and then drive to the basket before the defense can react.

When is L Cut Used in Basketball

When is L Cut Used in Basketball?

L cuts are primarily used in instances where the main goal is to get perimeter baskets. This is usually the case when the paint is packed, and the team wants to open the floor up and create more space for players to drive, cut, and make jump shots from the perimeter.

A good example is when you have a center that receives the ball at the top of the key to get the opposing center out of the paint. The natural reaction of the defense is to keep the paint packed because their primary rim protector is now far from the basket. In such an instance, having a perimeter player start in the low post during an L cut can help space the floor as the goal of the entire cut is to eventually take that defender either out of the play or away from the perimeter.

L cuts can also be good for power forwards and centers to stretch the floor and take rim protectors out of the paint. If the 4 or 5 has enough range to shoot a mid-range jumper or even a three-point shot, the L cut is a good way to allow that player to move to the perimeter to get an open shot or to allow the guards to cut or drive to the basket when the rim protector is forced to leave the paint.

The L cut can also be a way to simply stretch the floor out for a dominant ball-handling player who needs enough space to operate and have more offense options. For example, think of James Harden, who can use his cutting teammates to his advantage by driving to the basket or passing to one of the cutting teammates who got open after an L cut. 

In short, the L cut can be used in a wide variety of situations because of how versatile it is. It can be used by a great off-ball player like Klay Thompson to get open and score on jump shots, or it can get someone like Anthony Davis open out on the perimeter to stretch the defense out and take his defender away from the paint. It has different applications that allow both on-ball and off-ball players to find scoring opportunities.

Three L Cut Basketball DrillsThree L Cut Basketball Drills

When you want your players to learn how to do the L cut, three important drills can be done because L cuts usually provide two options. The first one involves shooting the basketball off of an L cut. Meanwhile, the second option is to make a quick drive to the basket after the catch.

Here is a good way to perform these drills:

1. Without the ball

  • Start by making a player master the L cut movement without the ball. The L cut involves a bit of footwork and a lot of change of pace that needs to be mastered.
  • Allow the player to start from the low post.
  • The player should now take the defender from the low post to the side of the free-throw line at the elbow. 
  • Your goal here is to allow the player to move at a moderate speed to throw off the defender.
  • The player should now change pace when finishing the L movement. The speed at which the player is moving from the elbow to the wing should be a lot faster to throw the defender off.
  • Allow the player to keep his hands open to simulate the act of expecting a pass.
  • Pivoting needs to be mastered because the player needs to be facing the passer while pivoting. The player has to pivot using the front leg.
  • Allow the player to repeat the movement as necessary until the L cut footwork and change of pace have been mastered.

2. L cut shooting

  • Incorporating the same basics in this drill when the player has mastered the L cut without the ball involved.
  • However, a passer should be just above the top of the key to allow the player to master the L cut with the ball involved.
  • Using the same L cut movements, the player should now expect a pass the moment after pivoting into position out on the wing.
  • After the pass has been completed, the player should now step into a jump shot. The player needs to establish their feet first after catching the ball.
  • Allow the player to get into their natural shooting motion after the catch. Repeat as necessary.

3. L cut driving

  • The L cut driving drill involves knowing how to drive to the basket when a defender recovers from an L cut. You would need an extra player to serve as the defender here.
  • Allow the cutting player to use the same L cut fundamentals stated above.
  • However, instead of making the player shoot the ball following the catch, the player should dribble to the basket while the defender is still trying to cover the jump shot.
  • The player should drive either right or left, whichever of the two has an open lane to the basket. Repeat the drill as necessary.

Other Types of Basketball Cuts

Other Types of Basketball Cuts

Aside from the L cut, two other cuts also allow an off-ball player to score without the basketball.

The first is the V cut, which is similar to the L cut because it allows a player to get the defender off-balanced to find an open spot on the wing. Unlike the L cut, the V cut starts from the perimeter and ends at the wing.

Meanwhile, the backdoor cut is designed to allow a player to take advantage of an open paint whenever the defense focuses too much on denying the wing. The key in this movement is to make the defender think that the player is receiving the ball out on the three-point line but will cut behind the defense towards the basket for an easy layup.

Wrapping Things Up: What are L Cuts in Basketball?

Like all of the other types of cuts in basketball, the L cut is an important fundamental movement that any player should learn regardless of the player’s position and playing style. Everyone needs to learn how to score the basket without the ball. And because the L cut is designed to open up three-point opportunities and driving lanes, it is perfect for a perimeter-oriented offense with plenty of shooters.

If you found this post helpful, you’re definitely going to like our other basketball FAQ articles here.

> What Are Shallow Cuts in Basketball?

> What are Curl Cuts in Basketball?

Picture of 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.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected?

Getting into the All-Star game is no simple feat. For some players, it may take several seasons of high-level play to get the nod. However, other exceptional talents come into the league with so much...

Read More
How Do Basketball Teams Qualify for the Olympics?

How Do Basketball Teams Qualify for the Olympics?

The Summer Olympics is the biggest stage in international basketball. These games have an unbridled cultural impact on a global scale. It brings the world together to appreciate a couple of weeks of high-level international...

Read More
What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

Basketball is a world of its own with unique terms or jargon, in and out of the court. Through the years, more terms have been developed to represent specific things about the sport, and understanding...

Read More

Get our top basketball tips to become a better baller

Enter your email to get access to our best tips for success.