Pick and Roll
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The pick and roll is probably the way of offensive collaboration most commonly used in nowadays’ basketball; many times it is used properly although sometimes teams tend to abuse of it.
When a team does not know what to do during offense, particularly when the shot clock is approaching the 24 seconds, it usually tries a pick and roll between a big man and a guard or a small forward, expecting that something will happen (a mistake by the defense, a hole that suddenly appears so that a penetration can be made,...). Although sometimes something actually happens, the level of defensive organization and defensive efficiency has notably raised, and therefore players had to improve their skills to properly play the pick and roll: offensive fundamentals both with and without the ball, ability to read defensive reactions, and capability of the whole team to perform collective movements.
The key to take advantage of the pick and roll movement is precisely to offset the aggressiveness required to penetrate with the body control and vision required to choose the best option. Many of the mistakes we have seen are due to the lack of aggressiveness shown by the players when they do not consider each one of the chances they have to threat the rim (shot/dribbling penetration both in the direction where the teammate set the pick and in the “free” side direction)
How we play the pick and roll
1) Attack the “free” side (many times defense is weak there); dribbling penetration or “move the defense to the base line”, specially if defense is pressing; do not show the back to the defense unless the player controls the dribbling start using a pivotal turn.
2) If defense reacts as expected, make a change of path and speed and penetrate (never get farther): there would be a defensive help movement and if we read it in the right way we can take advantage of it. Our team should be able to shoot behind the pick, the logical alternative when the defensive player passes the pick as third or fourth man (re-pick).
a) Horizontal help by the defensive center: split.
b) Vertical help or trap: look for the rolling player, even if another teammate has to get open to make a triangle of passes to the rolling player.
Important note: the key player is normally the other big man of our team, and things can be quite different if he can shoot from out side or not.
Pick and roll at the top of the key
1) 3 outside and 2 inside players: a center sets the pick for the point guard (4), (5) and rolls to the basket; our other big man moves to the high post area and gets the ball. If she cannot play high/low because his defensive player is sagging he turns and passes dribble hand-off to the side line and then rolls to the rim. We ask that big player to stay in the high post area to avoid a waste of space and get the ball as close to the basket as possible (9) (10), to be able to reach the basket easily by pivoting, using one dribble maximum or force a rotation by the weak side defensive players.
2) 4 outside players and 1 inside player: the center rolls outside the three point line, gets the ball and shoots or plays one on one (6) (7), while the other four players get ready to receive the pass when defensive helps take place.
Pick and roll on the side
1) 3 outside and 2 inside players: playing against defenses that try to drive to the middle of the court, after the complete roll of the big man who set the pick, we ask our other inside player from the weak side to play in the medium post and read whether the forward with ball has been stopped or has been able to penetrate.
In the first case (11) he will open up to allow and exit pass from the stopped teammate and will make a third pass or will continue with one of possible solutions shown in diagrams (4), (5), (9) and (10).
In the second case he should get close to the basket and be ready to receive the assist if his defensive player helps (12) or pick the outside defensive player if he has activated the rotation to allow an extra pass for a three point shot (13).
If we play against defenses driving to the base-line, we have 2 possibilities: a pass to the player that is picking, who plays hand in hand (14) repeating the movements of the above mentioned situation, or to clear the outside corner, change the direction of the pick and perform a dribbling penetration by the base line (15), being aware of who to assist in case of defensive helps (16).
2) 4 outside players and 1 inside player: if we play pick and roll with #5 we will place a shooter in the corner and #4 on the weak side, in the high post or low post area depending on the way the defense plays. If the defense traps, we prefer to place #4 in the high post to punish the rotation of x4 (17); if the defense drives to the base line, we send #4 to the corner to difficult the defensive help of x4 to stop the penetration created by the pass from #1 to #5 (18).
If we play pick and roll with #4, we always clear that side of the court: if the defense drives to the middle of the court, #4 can move to the empty space to shoot or play 1on1 against defensive help or rotation (19). #4 can pass to #5 inside when #5 cuts to anticipate the defensive switch between x4 and x5 (20). If the defense drives to the end line #4 can change the pick direction (see Diagram 15), force the defensive help of x4 and pass to #4 who shoots or plays 1on1 (21).
Against defensive switch: it is becoming increasingly used a switch between the two defensive players involved in a pick to the ball handler, particularly when the shot clock is reaching 24’’. Reacting immediately to the switch and deciding whether to take advantage of the possible mismatch is the key for a successful offense. In the first case, after a pick and a roll by using a pivotal turn to keep the mismatch advantage, we will try to place the ball in the low post area, reading the possible defensive helps the defense cannot perform (pass back to the original ball handler; be aware of possible charging).
If the small defensive player tries to defend our big player by denying the pass, the solution is an immediate flash post of our other inside player to play high/low, keeping the advantage.
If, on the contrary, the ball handler decides to take advantage of the outside mismatch we will clear that side to play 1on1 from the side (if there lasts 3 to 5 seconds in the clock shot) or from the top of the key, getting there by dribbling if we have more time (6 to 8 seconds).
Pick and roll as the initial movement
1) 3 outside and 2 inside players: this time we also ask the inside playing who is not involved in the pick and roll to remain not very far away but to get receive a pass (22) after the rolling by #5, same situation as in diagrams (4), (5), (9) and (10). If the defensive player sags and #1 is still dribbling, we have the chance of setting a pick for #1 (23).
If #4 receives far from the basket he will pass to the weak side while 5 is posting out and will pick efficiently on #1 defensive player, because x4 is far away (3) and cannot defend this movement (24).
2) 4 outside players and 1 inside player: If #1 dribbles to the same side where #5 is playing, #4 only has to get open behind the three point line and play taking advantage of the position of x4 who is sagging necessarily (25).
If #1 dribbles to the side where #4 is playing, #4 will take advantage of x4 defensive help to get open and get the ball after a screen by #5, who will cut to the basket (26). That situation usually creates good mismatches after the screen between #4 and #5.
We have played the same situation very successfully in quick plays for shots on the buzz, starting in a position closer to the side line, whether it has been to the base line (27) or to the middle of the court (28), obviously clearing the weak side corner.
At the end, the main goal of offensive plays is always the same one: to individualize a situation where a mismatch has been find and play 1on1 or to create the mismatch using cuts or picks, and take advantage of the situation creating the best conditions on the court. We should end with the best possible shot, directly from the advantage we created or after forcing the defensive team to help and break its balance by forcing some defensive players to leave certain areas where we will place the ball as soon as posible. That simple.Maybe it is also about combining ambition and altruism, in a more moral than strategic value scale.