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How to Beat On-the-Ball Defensive Traps

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Recently coaches all over have been utilizing more and more pick and rolls into their half court offense. They do this is because immediate mismatches can be created within a matter of seconds.

Perhaps no duo was more famous at creating these types of mismatches than  John Stockton and Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz. During their stint together they played in over 1400 regular season games and won numerous division titles. Ever since this combo mastered the art of the Pick and Roll coaches all over the world have rediscovered how hard this action is to defend.

As mentioned before, the main objective of the pick and roll is to create mismatches. From an offensive perspective there is always going to be a read based on what the defenses does. One common tactic that defenses use to prevent offenses from running this action is trapping the ball handler as he comes off the screen. Doing this will surely draw the attention of the ball handler and will limit his vision when trying to find his open teammates.

Instead of deviating from your offense, the next time you face a defense that traps on ball screens try these 3 counters!

Secondary/Slip: Perhaps the most used tactic when facing a defense that double teams the ball handler coming off the screen is to simply have the screener slip. A slip is when the screener comes to the point of setting a screen, fakes it and slips (cuts) to the basket.

The reason this is effective is because as the screen is being set, the screener's defender will often cheat up in order to get in better position for the trap. Therefore, the screener's defender is not in proper position to react to the slip. This slip will most likely result in one of two shot opportunities for your offense.

Either the screener who is slipping to the basket will get a wide open layup or the defense will collapse on the slip, leaving a perimeter player open for a catch and shoot opportunity. This is a great option if the screener in your offense is also a great finisher around the basket!

Pick and Pop: The next tool that offenses can use to exploit the defense is the pick n pop. When the ball handler dribbles off the screen, the defense will immediately look to trap the ball. Instead of having the screener roll to the basket, have him simply pop out to the perimeter instead.

This is a much more manageable pass for the ball handler to make from the trap and will usually result in an open catch and shoot opportunity. To guarantee that the screener is open after popping, instruct the ball handler to take at least 2 or 3 dribbles coming off the screen. This will drag the defense farther away from the offensive player popping out, which in turn will give him more time to get his shot off. This is the option of choice for teams who have screeners (usually post players) who can step out and shoot from the 15-18 foot range.

Same Side Post Up: Out of the three strategies mentioned in this article, this action is perhaps the least practiced and used by most offenses. Because it is the least practiced, many defenses and coaches are not accustomed to defending it. In most pick and roll scenarios the ball handler is looking to attack either the middle or the opposite side of the floor.

Instead of doing this, have the ball handler dribble off the screen once again while looking to drag the trap. Once the two defenders are dragged as far away from the strong side as possible have the ball handler pass it to a team mate on the same side of the floor in which he came from. The screener now rolls to the basket looking to post up a help side defender. Either the player on the perimeter will have a scoring opportunity or a dump pass can be thrown into the post player who is posting up on the same side. Either way, the offense is surely to get a great shot attempt!

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