First up: the UCLA cut
A basic screen and cut that just about every team in the NBA runs, the UCLA cut was popularized by legendary coach John Wooden as a part of his high post offense. It’s sometimes used as a verb by coaches, as in telling a player to “UCLA.”
“Every NBA team will have some kind of action where they involve a UCLA cut,” says Buchanan. “A lot of college teams will use it as well. International teams do it. A very simple cut that most teams will run.
“A lot of this will initiate some offense for teams,” says Buchanan. “Basically you’re going to put a post player at the elbow. You’ve got wing on the perimeter. Your point guard enters the ball above the key. Your other post can be in the block or wherever. With the UCLA cut, you’re going to enter the ball to the wing and the point guard is going to cut off an elbow screen right to the block (see above). It’s real simple.”
The perfectly run UCLA cut can result in an easy shot or layup for the guard who cut off the high post screen.
“The point cuts right off the postman’s screen, usually going right to the ball side block,” says Buchanan. “Sometimes the wing will throw it to the cutter. The Jazz did that with John Stockton all the time. He would cut off the screen and boom, they’d throw it to him and he’d get a quick little layup.”
But that’s not necessarily the only way teams use the UCLA cut. Since every coach in the NBA is familiar with the maneuver, the UCLA cut is often used to set up some other kind of offensive action not specific to the guard taking a shot near the rim.
“Lots of times teams UCLA to set up another screen,” explains Buchanan. “The wing has the ball, now they might throw a block to block screen if you’re the post man, which is hard to defend because you’ve got a little guy screening for a big guy, so you can’t switch it. So the defender guarding the cutter has to fight through the screen.
“There are lots of different things you can do off the UCLA cut, but it’s basically putting your point guard or wing on the ball side block and then you can make some different plays out of it from there.”