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Stopping The Big 3

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It seems that nearly every team I watch on every level has two above average players and several role players on their roster. Really good teams have three outstanding players and championship caliber teams have three great players and at least one role player who is on the brink of greatness. (If you're an NBA fan you can't help but notice how many teams are trying to assemble their own "Big 3" in hopes of winning even more games.)

Each of these great players usually has their own highly developed skill set which makes stopping them offensively extremely difficult for the average defender. In the next few paragraphs I'm going to give you a few ideas how to stop the great shooter, the great penetrator and the superstar.

Stopping the Great Shooter

I know it's much easier said than done but the best way to stop the great shooter is to keep him from touching the ball. This is done by overplaying every time he is one pass away, refusing to drop off of him even in help situations, and even face guarding him if necessary. If screened you need to "lock and trail" by attaching yourself to the shooter's outside hip and forcing him to curl towards the basket.

If the shooter does happen to catch the ball you need to crowd him tight enough that he is forced to put the ball on the ground. Being that close may also cause him to worry more about protecting the ball than about getting his shot off. If he does start his shooting motion then you need to make a conscious effort to contest his shooting shoulder.

Way too many defenders routinely stick their right hand up when contesting a shot but in reality that doesn't deter the shooter at all. Why? Because a defender's right hand naturally lines up with a shooter's left shoulder. Unless you either contest with your left hand (on a right handed shooter) or move over half a body the shooter may still get a clean look at the basket.

One last idea takes place when you're on offense and the shooter is on defense. Try setting a strong back pick on the shooter's dominant side at least three times a half. Even the slightest change to how his shooting arm or shoulder feels can throw his shot off at the other end.

Stopping the Great Penetrator

A great penetrator may be the toughest thing in today's game to defend which is why we are seeing a huge surge in dribble drive based offenses. Penetrator's used to be limited to point guards but now we see players at every offensive position putting their head down and driving to the rim. An individual defender really only has two major strategies at their disposal.

First, force the penetrator to his weak hand. Great ball handlers can use either hand but one is always going to be a little stronger and a little more developed than the other one. The second strategy is to drop off in order to give yourself a larger cushion. This is similar to how the Spurs defended LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the final games of the 2013 NBA Finals.

James and Wade got a few more mid range jump shots but they didn't create the same havoc in terms of drawing fouls, getting "and 1's" and involving more teammates as they were by getting all the way inside the paint.

Stopping the Superstar

Let's be realistic - you're probably not going to completely shut down the superstar - that's why they are considered superstars! But you can make it tougher on him by doing everything possible to take away his "go to" move. Determine what the superstar does best and then make him do something else; anything else for that matter. If he scores enough to beat you using a secondary move or his offhand then congratulate him and prepare harder for the next time.

One thing you should consider though is to go right at the superstar and make him play defense. Many great scorers like to rest on defense and save their energy for offense and so if he backs off then you're going to be able to score and possibly even match his offensive output. Playing tough defense may earn him a couple more fouls than usual and so If you can get the superstar in foul trouble he can't score while sitting on the bench.

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