Understanding Basketball’s Pick and Roll

Basketball’s Pick and Roll pic
Basketball’s Pick and Roll
Image: breakthroughbasketball.com

Suzanne Itani of Houston, Texas, has served as chief executive officer of International Exports, Inc., since 2010. When she is not providing the company with long-term business strategy and leadership, Suzanne Itani enjoys attending her son’s baseball and basketball games.

The pick and roll is one of the most frequently run and diverse offensive plays in basketball. The play is valued for both its simplistic setup and ability to create multiple scoring options. The traditional pick and roll involves a point guard and a larger player, usually a center or power forward, but it can be run by any two players on the team.

The pick and roll begins with an off ball player setting a ball screen, or pick, near the ball handler. As the ball handler dribbles around his or her stationary teammate, the defender must either drop under the screen and find their assignment on the other side, try to fight over the top of the screen, or switch assignments with the player guarding the ball screener. This simple maneuver quickly generates a number of quality offensive looks.

Should the defender drop under the pick, the ball handler can stop dribbling and take an uncontested jump shot. If the defender attempts to go over the screen, the ball handler can escape their defender and drive to the hoop, at which point they can attempt a layup or dish the ball to an open teammate. Finally, should defenders switch assignments, the ball handler can pass the ball to the screener, who is often left with a much smaller defender.

In a perfectly executed pick and roll, the larger screener is already rolling to the hoop as the smaller defender makes their switch. This allows the larger offensive player to make an easy drive to the rim or pass the ball while drawing attention from other defenders.

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