Basketball evolved, from peach baskets to rattling rims, from short shorts to baggy shorts, and the 30-second offensive clock is down to 7 seconds or less.
What is the 7 seconds or less rule?
It’s about a smart point guard bringing the ball at a fast pace with shooters spread out at the wings and the big at the high post for a pick-and-roll. The point guard drives to the basket, draws the defense to him, and dishes out to his teammates for open shots or takes the shot himself, all within 7 seconds or less.
We’re not pulling your leg when we say that a basketball offense can be done in the blink of an eye. Check out this material, this will prove that it’s true.
What Exactly is the 7 Seconds or Less Rule in Basketball?
The phrase 7 seconds or less did not come from D’ Antoni, it was coined by the media. The goal is to shoot the ball within seven seconds or less and catch the defense napping. The phrase is an overstatement and the 7 seconds is not a hard and fast rule. It’s about playing fast and spreading the offensive players on the court to break even the toughest defense.
The success of the game plan needs players who are fast on their feet with high shooting accuracy from downtown. Importantly, every team member should be cooperative. The focal point of the offensive strategy is the point guard, who will push down the ball so fast that there will be a breakdown in the defense’s communication.
The point guard should have a high basketball IQ. He drives and draws the defense to him and passes the ball to the high post player on a roll, or dish to an open shooter, assist a cutting teammate, or takes the shot himself, all in the blink of an eye.
In Phoenix’s case, it was Nash who called the shots. Amar’e Stoudemire blocks Nash’s defensive man, rolls to the basket, and receives a pass for a deuce. Waiting in the wings for open treys are Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson. Shawn Marion cuts to the basket and gets an assist when open. Steve Nash is a point-maker and can shoot the ball at any angle and distance. Most likely, when Nash drives to the basket, he’ll get fouled for free throws.
The players followed D’Antoni’s instructions to a T and transformed the team into a serious contender. D’Antoni was the Sun’s head coach for five years (2003-08). He orchestrated the franchise to four successive playoff runs and a two-peat Western Conference Final appearance.
Who Invented the 7 Seconds or Less Offense?
Michael “Mike” Andrew D’Antoni masterminded the 7 seconds or less offense which was designed when he coached The Phoenix Suns.
D’Antoni was an NBA player spending three seasons with the Kansas City Omaha Kings (1973-75), one season with the Spirit of St. Louis (ABA) in the 1975-76 season, and two games with the Spurs in 1976.
At 26, D’Antoni was facing a crossroads. He packed his bags and accepted the offer from the Olimpia Milano basketball team in Italy. D’Antoni became the face of the team and was acknowledged as the greatest point guard in Italy in 1990.
The success of D’Antoni as a player didn’t escape the watchful eyes of the Olimpia Milano management, and they immediately hired him as the head coach upon his retirement in 1990.
D’Antoni had the two best players in Europe, Sacha Georgavic (point guard) and American Antonio Davis (Center), but the team struggled. His brilliance went to work and plays were designed to create space and free the two stars. An extra shooting guard was brought in, and D’Antoni directed shooters to line behind the three-point area. The pick-and-roll players have enough space to maneuver, or Georgavic can kick out the ball to shooters. After the changes, team Milano went on a 23-2 tear.
D’Antoni had a storied career during his ten years (1990-97, 2001, 2002) as an Italian coach. He led teams to become champions; Italian League (2x), Italian Supercup (2x), Italian Cup (1x), Saporta Cup (1x), and Korać Cup (1x).
The Phoenix Suns franchise had D’Antoni under their radar and was hoping to improve their 2003 mediocre performance. In the same year, D’Antoni replaced Frank Johnson as the Suns’ head coach and introduced the run-and-gun style of play within 7 seconds or less. Things didn’t go D’Antoni’s way, the Suns were buried in a 29-win hole.
The team’s fortune changed in the Suns’ favor when Steve Nash was acquired in 2004. Nash was the missing link in D’Antoni’s game plan. Big man Amar’e Stoudemire will be at the high post for the pick-and-roll plays, and shooters are positioned beyond the three-point area. Nash dribbles at breakneck speed, and his teammates hurtle to their positions in offense. A shot should be taken before the 7 seconds elapsed.
The ploy was successful, and the Suns were in the 2005 Western Conference Finals, losing to the San Antonio Spurs, the eventual NBA champion. It was a return trip in 2006 with the same result against the Dallas Mavericks. The following two seasons saw the Suns losing in the semis (2007) and the first round (2008). Afterwards, D’Antoni left the Suns to coach the Knicks.
Although he never led a team to win a title, D’Antoni’s 7 seconds or less strategy revolutionized basketball.
How Does the 7 Seconds or Less Offense Impact Basketball Strategy?
Previously, the offensive team had 30 seconds to complete a play, this was cut to 24 seconds, and now it’s down to seven seconds for an offensive play. The fast pace spreads out the offense, creates space, faster ball movement, and more opportunities for a three-ball.
Shaquille O’Neal, Abdul-Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain have no room in the modern NBA. Stretch bigs create space because of their ball-handling abilities and three-point accuracy. Players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Joel Embiid don’t sit in the key. They space the floor in their offense, are comfortable with their treys, ability to find open teammates and show tenacity against point guards.
The 7 seconds offense gave long-range shooters enough room to launch their treys. Give Damian Lillard a slight opening, and he’ll quickly release the ball, raise his hands, the ball hits nothing but the net, and make the defense pay. Teams value the impact of the 3-point shots, it opens up the paint for drives to the basket, sets up defense faster, and it’s a point better than a mid-range shot.
The NBA is an offense-minded league, the defensive 3-second rule was adopted in 1991. Defenders were forced to meet their man outside the paint. The rule allows more space for the offense and defensive big men are eased out of the shaded lane leaving the paint open for cutters. It’ll be difficult for defensive players to man the perimeter, this favors the small ball lineup to get around defenders quickly.
The league implemented the five-second rule to increase the pace, space, and point-making. An offensive player must pass, shoot, or dribble within the time frame. Otherwise, an infraction will be called, handing ball possession to the opponent.
Are There Any Teams Still Using the 7 Seconds or Less Offense?
You’ve probably heard Box-Gate, Piston Elevator, Pick Overload, or Double Curls; these are offensive basketball plays called by coaches to counter defensive strategies. But you’ve never heard coaches use the 7 seconds or less offense, even its creator, D’Antoni, never named his game plan as such. But its principles are practiced by NBA teams, such as pace and space and small ball.
Coaches are zeroing in on Pace and Space to gain the upper hand in every opportunity. NBA teams switch to a small ball squad to increase the pace and catch the defense off-guard. Bigs who can’t shoot are pulled out, eliminating point-blank shots and opting for numerous treys.
Teams like the Golden State Warriors reached five consecutive trips to the Finals (2015-2019), winning three of them using a small ball lineup. When the center is unproductive, or the coach wants an up-tempo style of play, (6’6″) Draymond Green steps into the picture, and together with the Splash Brothers (Curry and Thompson) and later Kevin Durant, you’ll see the Warriors rain treys on the opposition.
Wrapping Things Up: What is the 7 Seconds or Less Rule?
The style of play in the NBA is different compared to three decades ago. Teams have embraced the principles of D’Antoni’s 7 seconds or less mindset by increasing the pace of the game to make more space and make more points.
LeBron James should expand his game with more three balls, quickness in the paint, and executing pinpoint passes. Michael Jordan gets his points mostly from the perimeter. In today’s games, he should be attempting more treys.
Basketball is a two-way game. A good defense creates a good offense, disregard one, and you’re in trouble.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.