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Becoming a Prolific Scorer Part 3 - Using Screens Effectively

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Good scorers realize that a screen is their best friend and treat it accordingly!

An un-contested shot has a much higher chance of going in than a contested shot. The more wide open shots a player can take the more points he will score. One of the best ways to get an open look is to come off a screen (pick) effectively. All offenses are geared around getting open looks by setting screens. The problem is, lots of players don’t use their screen effectively and waste an opportunity of getting an open shot.

Here’s the thing you need to remember… it’s up to you whether or not you will get open when a screen is set for you. It has everything to do with how you set the screen up and how you come off of it. It has very little to do with the person setting the screen for you. After all, how hard is it for the screener to set a pick?

It’s near impossible for them to screw up. All they do is stand still in front of your defender. There are, however, a handful of things you can do to make the screen completely ineffective.

  • If you come off the screen too early your defender will easily get around it. You have to wait until your screener is set and in position in front or behind of your defender. Then and only then do you make your move and come off of the screen.
     
  • You have to set your defender up before you make your move. Don’t telegraph which way you are going to come off the pick. Take a jab-step in one direction to make your defender commit and then go the opposite direction. By doing this you’ve pinned him against the pick and made it so he can’t get around it.
     
  • Come off the screen tight, shoulder to shoulder with the screener. If you take too wide of a route around your pick it makes it completely worthless. You need to come off it so tight that you literally rub shoulders with your screener because this makes it near impossible for your defender to get between you and the pick.

You’ll notice that as your defender gets tired of fighting through the screens and losing sight of you, he’ll start to cheat to get around picks before they are set. This is when it gets really fun because then you can take a quick jab-step then step back and have a wide open jumper. Then if you knock that down once or twice you’ll have him completely guessing. You’ll be creating all sorts of open shots for yourself.

There are many examples of players that use these secrets to their advantage in the NBA. Kyle Korver, is an excellent player to watch to try and learn from. Kyle is a very good shooter but can’t create his own shot very well and like anyone, doesn’t shoot well with a hand in his face. He is a fantastic scorer though and it’s mostly because he uses screens so effectively. He knows that it’s up to him to get open and so he takes advantage of every pick set for him. He sets his man up, has the right timing and comes off of the pick very tight. This alone manages to get him a bunch of open shots every game.

If you keep these simple things in mind and execute them you’ll easily get 10-20 more open looks during a game. If you can hit a decent percentage of those shots, which hopefully you will because you’ll be wide open, you’ll already be scoring 10+ more points per game than you were before. The worst thing you can do is get in the habit of just running around to spots on the floor when you run your half-court offense.

I see this so often, where kids just go through the motions and forget to take the screens set for them really serious. It doesn’t take long for them to start performing very poorly. What will happen is you’ll get frustrated by the fact that you don’t see a lot of open shots and so you’ll start forcing things in an effort to score points.

The shots you force will likely be very low percentage shots and before long you’ll find yourself in a downward spiral. You’ll lose confidence and your whole game starts to fall apart. Avoid all this by using your screens more effectively!

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