Legendary coach Bob Knight has often said that the two most important and undertaught offensive weapons are the shot-fake and the pass-fake. The shot-fake is a great move when the defender is flying out (closing out) on you on the perimeter.
With a good shot-fake, the defender jumps and you dribble around him/her for a one-dribble jump-shot, or a dribble-drive to the hoop. The shot-fake is also an important move for post players inside. Make the shot-fake or "pump-fake" to get the defender in the air, and then you can make a move either into him (and get the foul) or under him ("up and under" move), or maybe a drop-step move either baseline or to the lane, once the defender has left his feet.
The pass-fake is also a very important essential fundamental. In high school and youth basketball, I see so many tipped or intercepted passes, not only because the passer does not see the defense, but because he is looking right where he wants to pass ("telegraphing" the pass) and because he does not use a pass fake.
Look the defender away. It's been said, "fake a pass to make a pass..." example: fake an overhead pass, and make the quick bounce pass around your defender. Or to pass to the left, give a fake first to the right. The pass fake is also great against zone defenses and should be an important fundamental in your zone offense. The point guard can fake the pass left to get the zone to lean or shift, and quickly pass to the right.
A good passer can "look" the defender off his receiver by looking the opposite way that he intends to pass... example: look left, pass right on a fast break.
Fakes can be a simple "look away", or can be as subtle as moving your eyes opposite the way you want to pass, or cut. A fake can be a jab step to get the defender leaning, and then you move quickly in the opposite direction. You can fake with a shrug of your shoulders, or a bob of your head in the opposite direction that you plan to cut.
You can use a "sleep fake", where you pretend you are winded and tired, and you bend over with your hands on your knees, like you are catching your breath... the defender relaxes too, and suddenly you make your hard, quick cut.
You can use a verbal fake... yell the ball-handler's name loudly and wave your arms to get the defender (who is help-side defense sagging toward the paint) to come out on you. That may open up the lane for a clean cut by a teammate. In this case you don't actually get the ball, but you made the lane available for your teammate to cut through. Have a team agreement... if you yell "ball!" you really want the ball, if you yell a name, it's a decoy. To be a good faker, you need a little acting ability!
2. Make a good fake and cut hard. Often I see kids make a quick fake, and then a somewhat slow cut. Do just the opposite... make a slow, sleepy fake followed by a quick cut move. A quick, strong first step is key.
3. This is another important tip: kids often try to avoid contact with the defender and try to run away from him. In trying to get open, go right up to the defender and make contact with him, then quickly "bounce off" in the direction of your cut. He won't be able to react fast enough to your quick first step.In addition to the cut moves described below, don't forget this move: slip behind the defender (who may be in "deny" and over-playing the passing lane) and move below him toward the baseline. The defender should always see the ball. Try to slip out of his field of vision, so that he loses you briefly... then you can get open.
A back cut is when you cut behind the defender. Use the back-cut when the defender is over-playing you and denying you the pass. On the perimeter, we use the term "over the read line (3-point line)"... if the defender has a foot above the read line, we want our player to back-cut.
Also, if a teammate is dribbling toward you, we like you to back-cut ("dribble-at, back-cut"), unless it is a specified weave, hand-off play. Make a fake up or toward the ball, then cut quickly behind the defender. Back cuts can be a "ball-side" back-cut (see Diagram A, BBC), or a "weak-side" back-cut which means on the side opposite the ball, or "back-door" (see Diagram A, WBC).
A cut made in the shape of a "V". Perimeter players commonly use the V-cut to get open for the pass on the perimeter. Versus man-to-man defenses, we don't like passing to players standing still on the perimeter, as these passes are often tipped or intercepted.
The first leg of the "V" can be slow. The last leg of the "V" is quick (Diagram B, VC). When making the V-cut, plant the inside foot hard, and step off quickly with your other foot in the direction of your final cut.
A cut made in the shape of an "L", often along the lane (or "lane cut"). Diagram B, LC. The cut can be made up the lane, or down the lane (from the wing position). Use footwork similar to the V-cut.
A curl is a somewhat circular cut made around a teammate's screen (Diagram B, CC). A screen and curl cut is often a good way to get our better shooters open for a pass and shot. Often our shooting guard will go inside and curl cut around one of our post players to get open.
The cutter must learn how to use the screen and read the defender. If the defender chases around the screen, he should curl. If the defender, goes under the screen, he should fade or flare to perimeter for a skip-pass.
A quick cut made with a quick stop, a pivot toward the ball, sealing the defender on your back side, and receiving the pass from your teammate (Diagram B, BH). An example would be a post player, or a strong tall guard who has a size advantage over his defender, cutting inside, but instead of cutting back out to the perimeter, he/she quickly pivots and "shapes up" to the ball for a post up for the pass inside.
A perimeter cut used to exchange positions with another perimeter player who dribbles into your position, while you "shallow cut" to his/her vacated position (Diagram C, SC). We have also had our wing players shallow cut simultaneously to the opposite wing, essentially a crossing action where they switch wings, just giving the defense something new to look at, and sometimes a different way of starting our offense.
A cut from the perimeter all the way to the basket and out to the side (Diagram C, DC). This is mainly a matter of terminology as back-cuts and front-cuts are both deep cuts.
A quick cut made often made by a post player up to the high post (free-throw line) toward the ball (Diagram D1, FC).
First walk your defender down to the block area. Then plant the inside foot and quickly make the V-cut back out to receive the ball (Diagram D, JDVC).
Jam-Down, Back Cut
(Diagram D, JDBC) First walk your defender down to the block area. Then plant the inside foot and quickly make the V-cut back out. But this time the defender is ready and is in front you, over-playing the pass. So now plant the outside foot, and go back-door with a quick back-cut. So that the ball-handler knows which way you are going, use a hand signal. For example, if you are going back-door, hold your inside (receiving) hand up high.