2.4.1 Pick and roll (on ball screens) against a zone
Pick and roll (On Ball Screens) Against a zone
One of the most common offensive situations used at the moment is the “pick and roll” (or “on ball” screen), particularly in the middle of the court. Whilst this has traditionally been used against man to man defence, it can be equally effective against a zone defence.
One of the most important aspects for any offence to be successful is for there to be good “spacing” between players.
With an on ball screen in the middle of the court, spacing can have a player in each of the corners and also on one wing.
Creating 2x1 Opportunity
A pass to 4, creates a situation of 2x1 between the offensive players 1 and 4 against defender x3.
If x3 rotates to the wing, a quick pass to 1, forces x5 to rotate to the corner. 1 must be prepared to drive, as this is clearly a mismatch.
Read the Defence
If 1 does not drive, 5 can cut to the basket and can:
- “Seal” x3 as they rotate back to the key;
- “Seal” x4 before they can rotate across the key.
When Defence force sideline
An increasingly common tactic is for the defender to force the dribbler away from the screen. x1 stands next to the screener, facing 3 – making it impossible for 3 to use the screen.
In “man to man” whoever is defending the screener (5) would move to the basket to help guard any penetration. In zone defence, no defender specifically guards the screener.
The screener faces the basket, making contact with x1 with the lower body. 3 penetrates, and 5 cuts into the key.
This form of defending the ball screen can be particularly effective closer to the sideline. When in this position, 3 should retreat dribble toward the middle of the court, 5 re-establishes position and then Player 3 drives at the basket.
3 must make sure that 5 has established position before driving, otherwise 5 is likely to be called out for an offensive blocking foul.
As demonstrated, the on-ball screen can create multiple scoring opportunities against a zone defence. Often the “second pass” is crucial in creating scoring opportunities as the zone will make an initial rotation effectively but a second rotation will often create mismatch opportunities.