How NBA players stop the pick and roll (PnR) and off-ball screens

Since basketball’s inception, the pick and roll has been a staple of the game. And with the inception of pace and space offense placing an increased emphasis on 3-point shots, off-ball screens have also become an increasingly popular way to carve our space for shooters. As such, knowing how to defend each scenario is vital.

Pick and Roll Defensive Strategies

Key Takeaways

  • Pre-switch if being attacked on the PnR then bump if necessary
    • If your man goes to set a screen, rather than following him around, switch with the nearest person as he cuts to prevent the opposing player from constantly attacking you
  • Use ICE to trap the ball handler towards the baseline and deny both the driving and passing lanes
    • Can also work inversely to trap and double post players once they receive the ball after running the PnR
  • Bump unfavorable match-ups
    • If you’re forced to switch and end up with a bad match-up, swap who you guard with the nearest teammate that will help to neutralize the advantage created

Aside from the methods already mentioned, NBA players will also often hedge or attempt to fight over screens. Hedging, is similar to ICE, but rather than allowing the opposing player to drive baseline before trapping them, both players will attempt to trap the ball handler immediately to deny the drive. This though, gives the screener a wide open lane to the bucket unless one of the players trapping is able to recover or help side defense rotates over. Both hedging and fighting over screens aim to prevent unfavorable switches while the key takeaways from the video allow mismatches to take place and simply aims to mitigate them.

Off-Ball Screen Defensive Strategies

Key Takeaways

  • Get in between the offensive player and the screen
    • Denies shooters and the cutter from using off-ball screens to get open
    • Forces shooters and cutters to utilize the incorrect side of the screen or risk blowing up the play
  • Works best against pin downs and downscreens
  • Top-lock makes you susceptible to backdoors

So the next time you hit up the park or watch an NBA game be sure to utilize or look out for these actions.


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