Jean-Pierre de Vincenzi won a gold medal as head coach of the Junior Men’s French National team at the FIBA European Championship in 1992, and a Silver Medal at the Olympic Games in 2000 with the Men’s French National team. He is now Technical Director of the French Basketball Federation.
When talking about defense, there is usually a tendency to talk more about defending the player with the ball. There is little discussion about defending the player without the ball, and even less so about defending a player who is working on picks away from the ball.
This, in my opinion, is all the more regrettable since many offensive moves have their origins off well-executed picks or, at the least, gaps are created out of picks between players without the ball. For this reason, defenders should anticipate the various offensive moves that their opponents can use with picks. I would like to point out certain situations which often occur on the court that necessitate immediate defensive decisions being made, both by the individual defender as well as by the rest of the team members.
1. CLASSIC THREE-POINT SHOT SITUATION
1, 2, and 3 are offensive players and X1, X2, and X3 are defensive players. Here’s a situation where 1 passes to 3. After the pass, 1 will screen 2. 2, who is setting up his defender for the pick, starts to shift (diagr. 1).
X2 must anticipate the move and jump forward in order to overcome the pick (diagr. 2). When 1 screens X2, the two defenders could switch, a very effective move for the defense (diagr. 3).
2. PICK BETWEEN INSIDE AND OUTSIDE PLAYERS
Drill 3-on-3 with a stationary passer. 1 and 2 are inside players positioned at the low post and act as screeners for 3. 3, with his back to the baseline, facing the passer P, will use 1 or 2’s pick. He will move in one or the other direction and will take advantage of X3’s reaction (diagr. 4A). A defender, who, at the request of the coach, will apply more or less defensive pressure, will guard P.
The orders to the defense will be as follows:
- The defender of the player with the ball puts defensive pressure according to the coach’s wishes.
- X3 follows 3.
- X1 and X2 step out.
- If 3 curls, the defenders can switch between X3 and X1 or X3 and X2 (diagr. 4B).
3. PICK BY INSIDE PLAYERS FOR AN OUTSIDE PLAYER
- 2, positioned at low post, comes high to get free by using 1’s pick at the high post (diagr. 5A).
- P will pass to 2.
- X1 will defend by stepping out to help against the defensive move by X2, who will follow 2 (diagr. 5B).
- If 2 curls, X1 and X2 switch.
It is also possible that X1 will bump 2 to allow X2 to follow and recover on 2.
4. PICK BY AN INSIDE PLAYER FOR AN OUTSIDE PLAYER
In this case, the high post serves as a relay for an attacking roll (diagr. 6A and 6B).
The aim of the defense is to force 4 to screen as far up the court as possible, thus forcing 1 to receive the ball away from the basket (diagr. 6C).
- X1 will follow 1.
- X4 will a step out.
- X4, following 4’s pass to 3, will bump 4 to make his task of screening X1 more difficult and ineffective.
- If 1 curls, X4 and X1 switch as they did before. X4 can also bump 1 to help X1 to recover on 1.
5. PICK BETWEEN OUTSIDE AND INSIDE PLAYERS
- P is the passer.
- 1 cuts and uses 3’s pick.
- X3 and X1 do not switch.
- X1 follows 1 while X3 bumps 1.
- Then X3 opens up to the ball to prevent P’s pass to 1 as he goes in the lane after 3’s pick (diagr. 7).
- 1 screens 2.
- 2 will cut in the lane using 3’s pick.
- His defender (now X1) will follow him while X3 will step out.
- Here too, if 2 curls, X2 or X1 can switch with X3.
Note: The coach can also add a defender on the passer and this player can apply more or less pressure.
6. PICK BY AN INSIDE PLAYER ON AN OUTSIDE PLAYER
At the coach’s signal, player 2 will cut to the opposite side towards 1 or go up-court to use 3’s pick (diagr. 8A).
Each of these defensive situations has already been seen in the previous paragraphs. Switching the defensive players could also be recommended (diagr. 8B), for example, X1 or X2 takes 1, and X3 takes 1 or 2.
7. PICK BY AN OUTSIDE PLAYER ON AN INSIDE PLAYER FOLLOWED BY A PICK BY AN INSIDE PLAYER ON AN OUTSIDE PLAYER
- 3 is a power forward.
- 5 is a low post.
- 4 is a high post.
- 1 is the passer.
- The coach requests the type of defensive pressure that he wishes the passer to be placed under.
- 3 breaks away and screens 5, who will cut along the baseline to place the defense in difficulty. This move forces X3 to bump 5 long enough for X5 to recover on 5. Then X3 recovers on 3, who goes back up-court to take advantage of 4’s pick to receive the ball, and either shoot or penetrate (diagr. 9).
- If 3 passes back, 4 goes down.
The situation can then be continued as follows:
- 3 positions himself with his back to the baseline and can use of either 4 or 5’s pick (diagr.10).
The defensive situation described in diagr. 4A is thus seen again.
8. PICKS BETWEEN OUTSIDE-INSIDE PLAYERS AND OUTSIDE PLAYERS
1 is the passer and his defender follows the coach’s orders. When 2 cuts using 3’s pick, there can be a defensive switch between X3 and X2. Then 3 goes up towards the high post to use a pick by 1: the two defenders X1 and X2 (or X3) will switch (diagr. 11).
Player 2, continuing in the same direction, will use a pick by 5:
- X2 follows him while X5 steps out.
- If 2 curls, X5 and X2 can switch, if necessary.
- If 2 receives the ball, he passes back to 3 then cuts into the lane.
- X5 will bump 2 in order to let X2 recover to defend efficiently against 2 (diagr. 12) .
9. PICK BY INSIDE PLAYERS FOLLOWING BY A DOUBLE PICK OF TWO OUTSIDE PLAYERS
- The defenders will switch (diagr. 13).
- 1, after the screen of 2, goes back up-court to take advantage of a double pick by 4 and 3.
- X2 will step out, X1 will defend in the lane, and X3 will follow him (diagr. 14).
- The coach will decide how much pressure the defender of the passer P will put on him.
- After the pick on 2, 1 will take up position in the opposite low post while 3 will go down to the low post on the same side.
2 will come into the center of the lane with his back to the baseline and will get free from his opponent by going out of 4 or 3 pick (diagr. 15). The defensive players will move as seen in the previous diagr. 4A and 4B.
BACK PICK BY THE HIGH POSTON THE PLAYMAKER
- 1 passes to 5.
- 4 screens X1 and 1 takes advantage to get free by making a backdoor cut to the wing (diagr. 16).
- X4 lets X1 slide between him and 4, while X5 must apply strong defensive pressure to make it difficult for 5 to pass to 1 (diagr. 17A).
- Should 5 pass to 1, 5 and 4 will screen 3, so he can receive and shoot or penetrate and go to the basket.
- In this case, X4 steps out, X3 follows 3, and X5 stays in the lane (diagr.17B).
Pick after a handoff pass.
- 1 passes to 3.
- 3 returns the ball to 1, who comes behind him to get the ball with a handoff pass.
- 3 plays on 4’s back pick.
- X4 bumps 3.
- X3 follows and continues to cover 3 (diagr.18).
- The same offensive and defensive situation continues as in exercise II, with 4 and 5 being sent down to the low post area (diagr. 19).
10. A GAME SITUATION COMMONLY USED AT HIGH LEVEL
- In this game situation, X4 will bump 3 to slow him down and allow X3 to continue defending against 3.
- X4 stays with 4 (diagr. 20)
- While 3 cuts again, X5 contests 2’s pass to 5.
- X3, surprising his opponent very early while he is still breaking through, attempts to render 5’s pick on 3 ineffective.
- X4 steps out, knowing that X3 is following 3. If 4 continues with a pick on X5, then X5 and X4 will switch (diagr.21).
X5 will be very careful to regain first place against 4 when he opens up to the ball and possibly goes up to the high post position (diagr. 22 and 23).
11. SPECIAL GAME SITUATION FOR THREE-POINT SHOTS
- 2 uses 4’s horizontal screen while 1 dribbles forward.
- X2 will follow 2.
- X4 allows X2 to pass between him and 4.
- While 1 is dribbling forward, 5 screens 3.
- X5 bumps 3 and then guards 5.
- X3 follows 3 who has been bumped by X5 so X3 can better guard his man (diagr. 24).
- 1 passes to 2, 3 cuts, 2 moves forward instead of 3 in the wing area at the baseline (diagr. 25).
- At the same time, 3 moves back up towards the high post to take advantage of 4’s pick, or again cuts to the baseline on the opposite side to receive the pick of 5 (diagr. 26).
In both cases, he will be in a position to take a three-point shot and X4 and X5 will step out. X3 will follow (same options as in the diagr. 8A).