When you face a team that has one or a few good 3 point shooters they can make it a very long night for you. Well that doesn’t always have to be the case. If you know how to properly defend it you can all but shut down an opposing team and make them completely ineffective from the three point line.
How the Three Point Line Has Affected Basketball
Few things have changed the game of basketball as much as the 3-point line. It’s given good shooting teams an advantage and forced defenses to adjust how they play. Defenses have been forced to extend out further from the basket and guard more territory which leaves openings for post players and penetration.
A lot of teams have made the 3-point line the total focus of their offense and, as a result, the ability to guard the 3-point shot has become vital to the success of teams. There are specific defensive concepts that must be emphasized to effectively defend against good 3-point shooters.
When scouting teams and analyzing personnel, the first thing you should do is find the shooters. It’s important for you and your team to know who the perimeter threats are and where they like to shoot from. If you are unable to scout teams prior to the game then scout during warm-ups. Shooters must be identified before the game, but also during the game.
You need to be able to adjust to players that may not be identified as a shooter, but has hit 2 or 3 shots in a row. Your players must understand the concept of “making drivers shooters and shooters drivers.” In other words, you have to close-out long and make the shooters dribble. Everyone must understand who the shooters are because everyone may have to guard them. Emphasize to your players that if a shooter catches they should never hesitate to go guard the ball and make them dribble.
For most teams, the emphasis in transition defense is to get to the paint and don’t allow the ball in the middle, but the philosophy has to change when you are facing good 3-point shooters. The priority in transition against good 3-point shooters is to get to the ball, fan out to the shooters and get help-side defenders running to the paint. Emphasize to your players the “Analyze, Locate, and Communicate” concept.
When you are recovering in transition the first thing each player should do is look and analyze the situation. The first priority is to make sure the ball is guarded. Next the players need to determine the numbers and locate potential threats. If you are out-numbered on defense then you will need to be in a position to guard the nearest pass receiver and be able to identify if he is a shooter. Finally, your players have to communicate with each other in order to get to shooters. The transition 3-pointer has become popular among good shooting teams; therefore properly defending shooters in transition must be emphasized in practice.
Half Court Defense
When you can get your opponent into a half-court situation it takes good team defense to defend a good 3-point shooting team.
1.) On the ball defense
Each player’s on-the-ball defense must be solid whether they are guarding shooters, drivers, or post players. When shooters catch you must make them put the ball on the floor. If a driver catches you must contain their penetration and force them outside the paint in order to eliminate having to give help off of shooters. Defenders in the post have to be solid because you don’t want to be forced to help in the post and leave shooters open on the perimeter.
2.) Ball-side defense
An adjustment you may want to make is to give”No Help” on ball-side shooters. For example, if dribble penetration from the top happens your base defense will ask the wing defender to slide over and help on the ball. On the other hand, if the wing defender is guarding a shooter then you have them stay with the shooter. Also, on down screens you will want to trail the shooter off the screen and be there when he catches the ball. Your post must be alert for potential ball screens and be ready to show until the defender recovers. It requires good communication and an understanding of personnel.
3.) Help-side defenders
If you are going to tell your defenders to stay with shooters on penetration then it puts a lot of pressure on your help-side defenders. Instead of a wing defender helping on a drive from the top your post defender must help over which requires the opposite defenders to help toward the rim.
The phrase you need to emphasize to your players is “Help the Helper”. Help-side defenders give up open 3-pointers when they fail to react to the ball. The easiest two ways to get an open 3-point shot is by efficient ball movement and quick skip passes. Both can be eliminated if your help-side defenders move when the ball moves. They have to quickly turn from help-side defenders to ball-side defenders to minimize space for shooters.