Ball screens can be an a very effective tool in an offense. In order to use them the right way the ball handler needs to be able to read and react to each ball screen situation. The defense can choose between several different tactics when guarding a ball screen. They can show, switch, trap, go under, flat switch, etc. it usually depends on where the ball screen is and what type of players are using the ball screen.
Since there are so many different ways the defense can guard the ball screen the ball handler needs to be comfortable with all of them. This article is strictly going to talk about how the ball handler can score off of the ball screen. There will be times where the right play is to hit the big man for the pop/role or pass to an open teammate, but for right now the focus is on how the ball handler can score off of the ball screen.
No matter how the defense chooses to guard the ball screen there are several things that the ball handler needs to do every time in preparation for the ball screen. For the ball screen to be effective the guard must bring his man below the screen, this makes it harder for the on ball defender to fight over the screen. Next they need to see the floor and set the defender up before coming off the screen. Even if the play is to come off the ball screen it is important that you see the floor and make the defense pay if they fall asleep watching the ball screen action. Setting your man up involves probing him with the dribble and making sure that if he tries to cheat the ball screen you can make him pay by refusing it. Before coming off the screen you need to let the big man get set so he doesn’t pick up a moving screen. Then come off shoulder to shoulder and don’t let any space in between for the on ball defender to sneak through. These are steps that need to be taken every time you use a ball screen.
After you have perfected how to set up the ball screen it is time to focus on reading the defense and preparing for the different ways the defense can guard the screen. There are going to be 9 different ways that we are going to cover on how to get a shot or finish at the basket for the guard coming off the ball screen. Some are more difficult then others, so depending on the age and skill level of the players it may be smart to wait on teaching some of the moves.
This is one of the more basic moves out of the ball screen action. You would use this is move when the on ball defender chases the guard over the screen and the big man is late showing on the screen. The best way to make the big late on showing is to have the offensive big man sprint up to the ball screen and have the guard come right off the screen. There are two types of turn the corner moves you can use; early turn and late turn. Early turn you are able to turn the corner right away and go. Late turn requires you to drive the big mans hip until you can get the angle, then you can turn the corner.
The pull up jump shot is used if the on ball defender chases over top the screen and the big mans defender plays the screen soft and sits back in the paint. For this move to work you really need to set the defender up before coming off the screen and make sure that you get a good screen so that you have time to get the shot off. Russel Westbrook is really good at using this move because big men aren’t quick enough to get up on him at the ball screen and keep him from turning the corner.
The split is a little bit more of a difficult move then the first two, but can be very effective if used the right way. You would use this move if the defense tried to trap or show hard on the ball screen and they weren’t disciplined enough to come together first before trapping. There are four different moves that you can use when doing the split; crossover, reverse between the legs (Dwayne Wade Move), push over the top crossover, and low crossover (Steve Nash Move).
This is a great move to use against an over aggressive defender or a defender that tries to cheat the ball screen. The goal is to make the on ball defender think you are going to use the ball screen, get them to jump early to get over top of the screen, and then refuse the screen for a pull up shot or finish at the basket. To make this move work you must sell using the ball screen with your eyes, dribble, and body.
When the defender is purposely going under the ball screen it means that they think the ball handler is a non shooter. If that is the case then this probably not the shot for that player. However sometimes a defender gets stuck going under or they are just playing lazy defense, this is the time that you make them pay by stepping behind the screen and shooting an uncontested 3.
As mentioned in the previous ball screen action a defender may choose to go under the ball screen on a non shooter. This is the perfect time to have your big man role down a few feet and re-screen them. The ball handler now has an open 15 footer instead of a 3 pointer, this is a much higher percentage shot.
When the defense traps a ball screen they want you to pick up your dribble and try to throw a lob pass out of it. The ball handler must not fall into this trap, it is important to keep your dribble and make the defense pay for trapping. For this move you are going to retreat dribble as the trap comes and then use the big man’s momentum against himself and attack his outside foot and drive past him.
At the end of a shot clock or end of a period a big man may switch onto the ball handler. This may also happen in an emergency if the guard defender cannot get through the screen. The big man realizes that he is not quick enough to guard up tight to the ball, so he is going to sit inside the 3 point line. What you are going to do is back up, get some momentum, and then attack with speed. Tony Parker is one of the best players in the NBA at doing this move.
Another type of switch is when the big man is trying to guard the ball closely. When thinking of this move Dwayne Wade has to come to mind because he does it so well. You have the quickness advantage over the bigger defender. All you need to do is set him up with several change of pace moves and either shoot a 3 off of the dribble, or get his momentum moving backwards before shooting a pull up jump shot.