2.3.3 Screening angles and alignments – advanced pick and roll
There are many different angles and alignments that can be utilised by teams using the “pick and roll”.
Importantly, despite the name, the screener does not always “roll” (cut to the basket) and may “pop” (move to the perimeter) or re-screen. Some fundamental rules for both screener and dribbler are:
- “Set-up” – be a threat before going to set the screen
- Sprint into the screen – arrive to set the screen before the defender is there
- Screen angle is important
- Separation after dribbler uses the screen – either pop or roll
- Starting point – this will be relative to where the defence is. Move the defender to the screen.
- “Set-up” – be a threat before using the screen. Beat the defender away from the screen and then use the screen
- Separation away from the screener
- Score – be a scoring threat and force the defence to react to you.
Below are descriptions of various alignments that can be used for “pick and roll” or “on ball” screens.
As a general rule, if the screener “rolls” and moves toward the basket, the other post player replaces them.
“Lifted Middle Pick and Roll”, where the other 3 players are on the perimeter. This creates more space for the screen to roll and for the dribbler to “attack the rim”.
The screening angle must allow the dribbler to play “downhill” (i.e. moving toward the basket. Accordingly, the screener does not move from the point directly to the wing, as this is a poor angle. The dribbler (to use the screen) would be moving away from the basket.
The correct angle is set by initially attacking the basket and then moving to set the screen. This is an example of the screener “setting up” the screen by first being an attacking threat.
When the dribbler uses this screen they are attacking the elbow.
5 can also set a screen on x3, to enable 3 to get an open shot on the perimeter.
Finally, 5 could “flash” high, to receive a pass at the top of the key. Again, this is most effective if x3 is not playing on the help line (and accordingly the high post area is clear).
“Spread Side Pick and Roll” places the low post player in the short corner. Again, this is designed to move help defenders away from a position where they can help either defend the dribbler or the screener rolling.
“Step Up” or “Flat Screen”, where the screener has their back facing the baseline. This is particularly effective where the defence is forcing the dribbler to the side and the screen defender is stepping off to defend penetration (“Ice” or “Push” defence).
“Horns or ‘A-Set” is a very popular offensive alignment. It can be set “tight” (at the elbow) or above the 3 point line.
“Corner Pick and Roll” should be used with some caution, as it presents an opportunity for the defence to double or trap the ball in the corner.
“Brush Pick and Roll” is where a guard passes to the low post, cuts toward the basket and then screens for the low post player. It is a difficult screen to “switch” as it would create a mis-match for the defence.
“Dribble Screen” is similar to, but not the same as, a dribble hand off. Here the screener dribbles directly at the defender, effectively adopting a normal screening position but with the ball.
To effectively use the pick and roll, the dribbler must react to however the defence opt to defend the screen.
The screen defender may “strong show”, which is designed to make the dribbler flare and create room for the other defender to get to position.
When the screen defender does this, the ball handler must attack the “high” hip of the screener.
If the screen defender steps away from the screener, the dribbler should “split” the defence and attack through this gap.
As the defender recovers to the ball handler, the screener can move to re-screen, coming from behind the defender. This will make it very difficult for them to go under again.
If the defence trap the ball handler, the wing player (from either side) should lift to receive a pass.
Alternatively, the low post play can swing up to receive a post at the post when the ball handler is double-teamed. The screener also rolls to the basket. This places the help defender (x3) in the situation of either defending the basket (5) or the corner 3. They cannot defend both!
When setting a ball screen, if the screen defender moves above the screener, the screener should dive to the basket. This will often happen when the defence is going to “strong show”.
Often the defence will play “weak” – where they strongly force the ball handler to one side. The screener must ensure they set the screen on the correct side.
Alternatively, the screener can simply slip to the post to receive a “pocket pass” and then turn to look for (a) shot, (b) drive, (c) “high low” action with low post, or (d) pass to opposite corner.