Back to Basics (intro and using downscreens)
Before I get into examples and uses of each of the options, a quick primer on some basic principles in using screens.
- Wait - without assigning percentages, the ratio of illegal screens called on big which are actually the fault of the guard receiving the screen going to early is pretty high. The big man is an obstacle for the defender, not a road grader. Even if there is no moving screen set, if the screenee leaves to early, it basically means there was no real screen set.
- Set the man up - if you watch off the ball, you will see tons of tussling and body contact as the offensive and defensive player work to best position themselves to either use or deny use of the the coming screen, In the Reggie Miller clip above, you can see him sort of man handling the defender to ensure he has to run into or around the screen to keep up with Reggie. This set up play isn't necessarily pushing and shoving, but moving in such a way that the defender ends up not having a straight line to run to keep up with the offensive player.
- Come off the screen tight - what's the point of the first two if the defender gets between the cutter and the screen (and thus between him and the ball.) The coachspeak for this is "shoulder-to-shoulder" as in that's how close the recipient of the screen should try to run with respect to the screen setter.
Option #1 - Pop out (standard)
Option #2 - flare/fade
Option #3 - curl
Option #4 - Back cut
In future installments, I plan at looking at defending off ball screens, "icing" the pick and roll and other bits of basic NBA movement and strategy. Let me know in comments or on twitter if this was helpful, remedial or still too technical/jargonny.