The pick and roll in basketball is the most basic of plays, but it is also highly effective when done correctly. There is a reason that this play is run by almost every college and pro level team. It is because when it is executed right it is tough to stop. If you are coaching a basketball team at any level, then add this simple play to your playbook right away.
The pick and roll can be run with any two players on your team but it is ideally done with your point guard and your center or power forward. This play is generally effective against the man to man defense as with a zone they will simple sag back.
The first thing you will want to do is to explain the terms to the players. The “pick” is when the big man comes and creates a barrier for a defender for the point guard to exploit. The “roll” is when the big man slides to the open area of the floor when the two defenders switch or move. The act of “rubbing” is when the point guard slides as closely by the stationary big man’s pick as possible to lose the defender.
Now that the terms are clear, let us look at how to execute the play. Have your point guard come to the top of the key. Your small forward, shooting guard, and power forward should spread out to the wings to give options when the play goes down, and primarily to draw the extra defenders out of the paint. This will create lanes for the point guard or center regardless.
As the point guard calls out the play and the others clear out, the center then comes to the top of the free throw line and sets a pick for the point guard. The point guard must take special care to rub as close as possible so that his defender will have to either go around the pick or switch off on the center. Either way it gives the point guard an option.
As soon as the point guard rubs by the pick, the center should then roll towards the basket with an eye open for a quick dish from the point guard. It is up to the point guard to make the right decision with the ball, and this explains one of the reasons your point guard is called the coach on the floor.
When the point guard rubs by, his defender is the key he should focus on. If his defender is blocked off with no help, then the point guard can drive unchecked to the basket. If his defender switches off on the center, then that puts the center at a huge advantage as he is now covered by a point guard. Throw the ball down low for an easy two. If both defenders flock to the center or sag, then the point guard can pull up for the shot. Finally, if the other defenders that had been drawn out of the lane cheat down to help, then the point guard dishes to whomever is unchecked for the easy shot.
As you can see, the pick and roll is a play that if done correctly, it is almost unstoppable. Of course that is dependent on the players making the shots, but at least you will have open looks at the basket. If you have really good shooters on the wing, a solid point guard, and a center that can catch the ball on the move and finish, then you have a team that can contend with this one play in your playbook. You will certainly win your share of games if you coach this one effectively, and get good execution.