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Basketball Offensive Moves:
Scoring with the Pick 'n Roll

There are plenty of basketball offensive moves, but the pick 'n roll is probably the move most often found in offensive plays. It is a great little move - done right, it almost inevitably sets up a scoring opportunity of one kind or another. Which is why it is found in so many offensive plays, and why it is so important for basketball players to know how to run it.

Teams that win consistently do so because they understand the importance of good teamwork. Players that play selfishly, regardless of how well they can execute other basketball offensive moves, will never see the success that is brought about by good teamwork. The pick 'n roll requires good teamwork and unselfish play, and very often results in a good basket.

To run a good pick 'n roll, the first requirement is to set a good screen. If you haven't read the page on The Fundamentals of Setting Good Screens yet, take a moment to read through it, and then return to this page.

In the discussion on Setting Good Screens, I mentioned that the roll aspect of the pick 'n roll is a natural progression from the screen - once the screener feels the impact from the screen, he opens his body to the ball. If he has set his screen properly, with his arms raised at chest level against the defensive man, the roll will leave him standing solidly, facing the ball, with one hand raised on the basket side, and the other arm still against the defensive player he set the screen on, holding the defensive player off. The defensive player has been effectively taken out of the play.

Basketball Offensive Moves:
Scoring Opportunities

There are several ways that the pick 'n roll sets up good scoring opportunities:

Scoring Opportunity #1

  • The screener (#2) ties up the on-ball defender, which frees up the man with the ball (#1). If the screener's defensive man stays with him, that means we have two defensive men playing the same man (the screener) - and the man with the ball is free to drive to the hoop.

basketball offensive moves - pick n roll 1

Scoring Opportunity #2

  • The screener (#2) ties up the on-ball defender, but his defensive man (#4) switches and picks up the ball carrier on the drive. Now the screener rolls out toward the hoop, opening up a clear passing lane from the ball carrier to the screener, who is now ineffectively guarded by #3 on the outside. The screener has a clear lane to drive to the hoop.
basketball offensive moves - pick n roll 2a basketball offensive moves - pick n roll 2b

Scoring Opportunity #3

  • Even if the defenders manage to switch successfully, it is likely that this will result in a mismatch - e.g., if a forward screens for a guard, and the defense switches on the pick 'n roll, then it should result in a much smaller man (the guard's original defender) playing against a much larger man (the forward), or a much slower man (the forward's defender) playing against a much quicker man (the guard).

  • Whoever gets the ball on offense should be able to use their defender's weakness against them - e.g., the forward should be able to muscle the ball in over the smaller guard, using a hook shot or power move; the guard should be able to speed past the forward.
basketball offensive moves - pick n roll 3a basketball offensive moves - pick n roll 3b

Encourage your players to constantly hone their basketball offensive moves, like setting screens, the pick 'n roll, fakes and cuts and so on. It is these "little" things that will make the difference between them being a body on the court and a player in the game.

Check out more Basketball Offensive Moves here

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