Pick and roll

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Pick and roll or screen and roll ("block and roll") is an often used standard play in basketball , in which two attackers lead the ball and two defenders face one another. With this tactic, the attacker who is not in possession of the ball blocks the path of the defender who is covering the ball carrier and thus brings the latter into a good throwing position. Since it basically puts the defenders under pressure , it is considered a simple and effective move. A 2009 analysis by the New York Times found that 18.6% of all plays in the NBA are pick and roll.

starting point

The starting situation is a guard, who is facing the opposing guard at the three-point line with the ball, and a big man (a physically large teammate; often the center or power forward ) who is close to the basket and in turn from the opposing center / power Forward is covered. Guards are usually much smaller and faster than big men . The basic idea of ​​pick and roll is to swap opponents quickly so that the fast guard stands against the slow big man and the physically strong big man stands against the physically weak guard.


When picking and rolling, the big man goes behind the opposing guard and places a block against him (called a pick or screen ). This also forces the opposing big man to the outside, since otherwise his colleague would be one against two and the guard in charge would get a free throw. This creates a classic forced draft situation: the opposing big one has to go outside.

If the opposing big man has been lured out, the guard in possession of the ball dribbles at high speed in an arc close to his teammate. At the same time, the attacking big man rolls towards the guard in charge of the ball. This is called a roll . The opposing guard remains stuck on the block, so the ball leader has shaken off his opponent and can pull towards the basket at high speed. The slow opposing big man is now also in a precarious position, as he is now facing a small builder who comes quickly towards him: he is usually too slow to stop him, and the guard can not only throw, but seek physical contact and provoke a foul. If the guard can be defended, the previous blocking is usually free and gets the ball.

The pick and roll brings thus two advantages: you shake off his defender and bring the opposing big man in a very unfavorable situation defense. In addition, you create an outnumbered situation by rolling - your own big one gets the ball and can also run to the basket.

Defense against the pick and roll

Basically, the defenders must prevent the guard in possession of the ball from dribbling quickly into the throwing position. It is common to all strategies that excellent team communication is necessary. The following strategies are available:

  • Belly up : here the defending guard covers the ball handler extremely tightly so that he can either slip past the block or is even in front of the ball handler on the pick, so that the big man is more in the way of his own teammate than the attacking guard. However, there is a risk that the handler will ignore the pick and dribble in a completely different direction without an opponent.
  • Trap / cut off the path : here the defending big man quickly closes the path and his own guard intentionally covers the ball carrier loosely. If the latter now wants to draw to the basket, he runs straight into a trap ( trap ), formed by the opposing big man in front of him, his own big man (next to him, the own player becomes an obstacle!) And the opposing guard, the other the Side covers: threat of ball loss. The risk here is that two defenders now cover an attacker and thus a player (usually the attacking big man ) is free: if the guard plays to him, he can now throw freely from the middle distance. Furthermore, this defense offers easy points for the attacking guard from the line of three, should he ignore the pick and roll and throw directly, which is made possible by the loose defense of the opposing guard.
  • Double pick : here the defending big man goes so far outside that he puts a second pick next to his attacking colleague. If the ball operator wants to dribble past, he has to walk a wide arc to get past both. The disadvantage here is that the defending big man (usually the best defender in the vicinity of the basket) is now so extremely far out that he is completely out of position in the next move.
  • Additional man / Help defense : here a third player leaves his man and defends with him. However, he again leaves his own opponent completely free. Through skillful team defense, the two remaining teammates can move in such a way that the pass to one of the three free-standing opponents becomes as difficult as possible and / or they offer a pass to the opponent who is most likely to miss a free throw.

Limits of pick and roll

The pick and roll maneuver is particularly effective when the opposing team plays a man marking and the players are sometimes far apart in order to cover their respective opponents. In a zone defense in which the opponents are relatively close to each other at all times, pick and roll is more difficult. First, the defending big man is no longer obliged to act : to counter the pick, either the other guard or a faster winger can come to the rescue. Second, the other defenders can pick and roll with two quick steps and overwhelm the ball carrier so quickly that he has no time to pass and can lose the ball. Guards who are very strong at play (such as John Stockton ) will still find the free man, but other strategies are usually recommended against zone defense.

Well-known pick and roll combos

In the NBA , pick and roll became the trademark play of guard John Stockton and power forward Karl Malone of Utah Jazz in the 1980s and 1990s . With the extremely intelligent and throw-proof Stockton and the reliable middle-distance shooter and powerful dunk specialist Malone, the Jazz caused a sensation for 20 years.

In the 1960s, the Boston Celtics used this move regularly against the teams of NBA center legend Wilt Chamberlain , as Chamberlain was an excellent shot blocker, but of course was not nearly as effective on the outside; The combos Bill Russell / Bill Sharman and Russell / Sam Jones were particularly good at it . On a smaller scale, u. a. also Deron Williams / Carlos Boozer (also Jazz), Chris Webber / Mike Bibby ( Sacramento Kings ) and Amar'e Stoudemire / Steve Nash ( Phoenix Suns ) with this successful. The San Antonio Spurs use Tim Duncan as big man , who alternately performed a pick and roll with Tony Parker or Manu Ginóbili in 25% of all moves.

Pick and pop

An often used modification of this move is the so-called pick and pop (block and throw), in which the blocking player does not roll towards the basket, but instead takes a new, free position on the field after the block in order to receive a pass from the player carrying the ball and then take a jump shot from middle distance. This is particularly effective when the guard or big man is looking for the unobstructed mid-distance throw. Well-known pick-pop combos were / are Isiah Thomas / Bill Laimbeer ( Detroit Pistons ) or Dirk Nowitzki / Jason Terry ( Dallas Mavericks ).


  1. ^ A b The Pick-and-Roll Is the NBA's Old Reliable , New York Times