How to defend against the pick and roll

Recently, we looked at the intricacies of running the pick and roll.

The Lakers will see plenty of the pick and roll in the Western Conference, so now we're going to discuss some thoughts on how to defend against it.

Here are some keys for the Lakers to defend the Pick and Rolls:

1. TALK ... TALK ... TALK

Communication will be a huge component during this entire season. As soon as your man starts to go set a screen you must talk and yell “SCREEN!” The great defenders yell “screen left” or “screen right!” Remember, the defender guarding the basketball is out on an island by himself focused on the ball, so we do not want him to be surprised and get cracked in the back with a blind screen. Call the screen out loud, call it early and give directions to your teammate guarding the ball.


When the defender of the ball handler hears “SCREEN” he will be able to body up his man and force him into the screen. Until that verbal, he is in an on-the-ball defensive stance (arm's distance away) with live feet and active hands containing the dribble.


While the above is happening, the weak-side big and the two corner defenders will form a defensive triangle with the big in the middle of the lane (I call it “head on the rim”) and the two other defenders outside the pro lane line, but even with their respective corner men they’re guarding. If the two corner defenders get too high, their man will just cut behind them for a dunk at the rim. It is imperative while on defense you see your man and ball at all times. The big in the lane must always be alert to the defensive 3-second rule.


Most college coaches teach their bigs to stay attached to their man when that man is setting the high screen. I've always felt that actually sets a DOUBLE SCREEN for his teammate to fight over. I like to teach SHOW UP one step above the screen and re-direct the ball handler coming off higher and/or wider.

You’re not sliding with him, you’re SHOWING UP and buying time for your teammate to get back in front of him. The ball defender will then go over the screen and beat the dribbler to his next dribbling spot. The personnel, the shooting range of the ball handler and the location of the screen will dictate whether to go over or under the screen. The screener rolling will be picked up by the weak-side big that has his head on the rim, and should meet and greet him and root him out of the paint!

he big that showed defensively will sprint back to find the offensive weakside big that is replacing while the strongside roll is taking place. I have always taught when you show high defensively, you stay high defensively and find the open big.

Coach Dave Miller is a basketball analyst and former NBA and college coach. Follow him on Twitter at@CoachDaveMiller.

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