“Basketball teams at every level commonly use a number of two-and three man play actions such as back-picking, down-picking, screen and roll, flex, pick-the-picker, and others.”

Key Takeaways:
  • Evolution of 2-Man Action
  • Defensive Approach
Evolution of Pick & Roll

The ballscreen has been historically relevant for decades. Yet, it didn’t become popularized until Chuck Daly’s Pistons in the late 1980’s found a ton of success with guys like Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, and Dennis Rodman.

Since then the ballscreen has revolutionized the game. The 90’s was all about Stockton and Malone; where the torch was passed to Steve Nash into the turn of the century with D’Antoni’s ‘7 Seconds or Less’ offense. Today, it is hard to conceptualize a competent point-guard without the ability to play in ballscreens.

The game has stretched into a perimeter style of play and ballscreens have become the driving ingredient to innovative offense. A concept that traditionally started inside the 3-point line on the wing has extended and relocated to anywhere on the floor with positionless involvement. The spacing has created the biggest advantage to ballscreens. The game us

Defensive Approaches 

“It takes five men to defend the well-executed pick/roll successfully.”

It is true, all five guys have to be involved to stop the ballscreen action. But it starts with the first four directly involved. Deciding on the defensive approach to stopping any ballscreen starts with evaluating the offensive personnel involved.

  • Is the ballhandler a shooter or driver?
  • Capable of going either direction?
  • What is the tendency of the screener – roll or pop?
  • What side of the floor is the screen being set?
  • Where is our weak-side help during this action?
  • Evaluate the ballhandling and passing ability

These variables all come into consideration when deciding on how to stop the two-man action. The book talks about the primary four:

  1. Hedge & Recover
  2. Trap
  3. Switch
  4. Fan (a.k.a. ‘Ice’ or ‘Down’)

What was interesting to me was the relevancy of fanning during the 80’s. However, it shouldn’t be a surprise from Coach Del Harris when the Lakers’ primary style of halfcourt defense was to force sideline-baseline.

Fanning attempts to corral the ballhandler into a pocket on the floor towards the sideline and baseline preventing any chance to use the ballscreen.

Regardless of the method used to defend the pick-and-roll, there are some fundamental priorities common to each method:

  • No easy open shots

  • No middle penetration

  • Everyone on the weak side must be ready to rotate to open people

  • If someone rotates to your man, quickly rotate to find an open man on the weak side



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