The Ultimate Pick and Roll Guide

Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors

Mar 12, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) dribbles around Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (3) with a screen by Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

This month we are giving you the ULTIMATE GUIDE to reading the defense on the Pick and Roll. The pick and roll (also called a ball screen or screen and roll) is an offensive play in which a player sets a screen (pick) for a teammate handling the ball and then moves towards the basket (rolls) to receive a pass. In the NBA, the play came into prominence in the 1990s and has developed into the league’s most common offensive action.

The written “reads” guide and video breakdown below is brought to you by Premier Player Development Coordinator, Mychal Martinez.

SET UP

  1. GET DEFENDER AWAY, LATE, AND BEHIND THE BALL SCREEN
  2. BE PHYSICAL AND CONTROL SPACE – PUT THE DEFENDER “IN JAIL”
  3. GET SHOULDERS TO THE HIPS OF THE SCREENER TO CLOSE THE GAP

CONTAIN

  1. BIG DROPS BACK TO “CONTAIN” PENETRATION
  2. ATTACK THE BIG DOWNHILL FOR A FINISH AT THE RIM OR PULL UP JUMP SHOT
  3. MOST EFFECTIVE TO ATTACK “INSIDE SPACE” AND/OR MAKE AN INSIDE MOVE AND TAKE DRIBBLE TO OUTSIDE SPACE
  4. “SNAKE” THE BALL SCREEN WHEN THE DEFENDER TRAILS THE ACTION TIGHT AND ON YOUR BACK
  5. GET AWAY FROM THE DEFENDER BY THROWING THE BALL ACROSS YOUR BODY INTO OPEN SPACE TO CREATE AN ISOLATION SITUATION WITH THE BIG

SOFT HEDGE

  1. BIG “SHOWS” QUICK TO SLOW BALLHANDLER DOWN AND RECOVERS BACK TO MAN
  2. DRIBBLE TIGHT TO HEDGE DEFENDER AND QUICKLY TURN CORNER INTO OPEN SPACE
  3. MANY OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE ON THIS READ

HARD HEDGE

  1. BIG “SHOWS” AGGRESSIVELY TO PUSH THE BALLHANDLER HARD BACK UP THE COURT
  2. LOOK TO “SPLIT” WHEN THE HEDGE IS LATE OR TOO FAR FROM THE SCREENER

TRAP

  1. THE KEY TO BEATING A “TRAP” OR “BLITZ” IS TO GET RID OF THE BALL QUICKLY
  2. SINCE TWO DEFENDERS ARE CHASING THE BALLHANDLER SOMEONE IS ALWAYS OPEN
  3. SCREENER SHOULD EITHER ROLL OR POP TO OPEN SPACE

ICE

  1. “ICING” THE BALL SCREEN IS WHEN THE ON-BALL DEFENDER FORCES THE BALL BASELINE – SCREENER’S MAN DROPS AND CONTAINS PENETRATION ON BASELINE SIDE
  2. ATTACK THE BIG AND LOOK TO TAKE THE BALL BACK MIDDLE TO OPEN SPACE – HUGE ADVANTAGE IF BALLHANDLER CAN USE SCREEN MIDDLE

REJECT

  1. DEFENDER CHEATS THE ACTION BY JUMPING TO THE “HIGH SIDE” OF THE SCREEN TO AVOID BEING PICKED
  2. HESITATIONS AND CHANGE OF DIRECTIONS MOVES ARE VERY EFFECTIVE “SELL” MOVES IN THIS SITUATION
  3. BE AWARE OF DEFENDERS THAT GET PREOCCUPIED WITH SCREEN ACTION AS YOU CAN BLOW BY QUICKLY

UNDER

  1. WHEN DEFENDER GOES UNDER THE SCREEN LOOK TO ATTACK DOWNHILL AND PENETRATE  OFTEN
  2. BALLHANDLERS THAT CAN SHOOT OFF OF THE DRIBBLE ARE ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS
  3. IF DEFENDER RECOVERS QUICKLY LOOK TO USE THE SCREEN AGAIN FOR A “RE-PICK”

SWITCH

  1. WHEN DEFENDERS “SWITCH” THERE ARE TWO MISMATCHES ON THE COURT – ONE OF THEM NEEDS TO BE EXPOSED
  2. ONCE SWITCH OCCURS TAKE BALL INTO OPEN SPACE TO BETTER ISOLATE MISMATCHES – THIS ALSO PREVENTS DEFENDERS FROM “SWITCHING BACK”

HELP SIDE

  1. SINCE HELP DEFENDERS MUST COLLAPSE ON A PICK AND ROLL MAKE SURE TO SURVEY THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE COURT AS WELL AS WHERE THE BALL SCREEN CAME FROM
  2. LOOK FOR HELP SIDE DEFENDERS THAT GET BOTH FEET IN THE LANE AND/OR “STUNT” AT THE BALLHANDLER

If you would like to receive in-person instruction on Pick and Roll Reads, please click the button below to navigate to our Premier Basketball Training page and join a group training session and/or clinic near you today!

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