Attacking 2-3 Zone Defense

by: Coach Joao Costa (JC)


Executing ball screen zone plays.

Can we screen against any zone defense? Yes; Of course we can!

One aspect of offense that is often lost in playing against zone is the use of the screen. When used properly, the screen can still be effective against a zone defense. Nearly every position featured at least one screen of the top two-man on the zone. This attempted to get the open lanes for penetration, passing or shooting.

Against zone defense, in this case 2-3 defense, you really can use ball screens to free up open perimeter shots. Because the defense is in the zone, when you screen the defender on the ball, there is no switch so you basically will end up with an open shot every single time, also notice the defender goes underneath which allows for the wide open jumper.

The most difficult thing to guard, while 2-3 zone defense, is a pick and roll (pick and pop). If you can obtain the right spacing, have some shooters and set good screens the pick and roll is a great way to attack the defense and force them to make difficult decisions.

Beat the zone down the court.

The easiest way to defeat the zone defense is to beat the opponent down the court and score before they can establish a set defense and organize all five players into the zone.

Fast Break a quick transition from defense to offense will take away the time your opponent needs to get back and set up their defense. A good fast break Ė run off a rebound, turnover, or even a made shot- will cause plenty of confusion for any defense and open up holes through which you can drive the ball.

Through good floor spacing, smart passing, quick cuts, solid screens and continuous ball movement, your offense should be able to find some holes in a zone and get a look at the high-percentage scoring opportunities.

You donít necessarily need a great zone offense but as long as your players have solid fundamentals, you can beat the zone easily by:

1. Ball reversals and skip passes; forcing the zone to shift and morph.
2. Penetrating the gaps to force the defense to collapse.
3. Running a player or two underneath the zone into the blind spots.

Of course if you have shooters Ė all your troubles melt away.

Here are some ball screen plays for you to try out and execute.



   
    


Player 1 passes to 3 and 3 reverses to 1.
It is important for player 1 to slide over the top of the key to set up the defender X1.
Player 5 sets a ball screen on outside defender X1 on the top of the zone.
Player 1 will dribble off the screen for a shot.

Note: If defender X4 takes away player 1ís shot and the middle defender X5 takes away the pass from 4, player 2 will be wide open for a shot at corner.

    


Player 4 back screens defender X1 as 1 comes off the ball screen, defender X2 steps over to stop the penetration.
This opens up the pass to 3 for a shot. If defender X3 comes out to stop 3ís shot from the wing then a pass to 2 in the corner creates an open shot.
Player 5 will cut to the ballside block for a possible pass from 2.

    


Here is a quick hitting zone action for a quick three pointer. Sometimes you donít need to be fancy. Just a simple screen will do the trick.

Step One
Player 4 will screen and re-screen against defender X2.

    


Here is a quick hitting zone action for a quick three pointer.

Step Two
Player 4 re-screen against defender X2 as 1 comes off the screen looking for 4 on the roll to the basket, reversing the ball to 2 on the weak side for a shot or feeding 5 as he flashes into the lane.
Of course if the defense does not defend 1 off the screen, 1 can shoot or goes for lay-up.

    


Here is another way to screen the top of the zone defenders for a quick shot.
Simple as that, player 2 screens against defender X2 while 3 cuts opposite wing to receive the pass from 1 for a quick shot.
Player 5 will hold his defender (X4) to prevent him from blocking 3 for a shot.

Note: When player 2 screens defender X2 then player 1 dribbles into the gap to draw defender X1. This opens up the pass for 3 at wing.

    

Quick Shots
First Look.
Player 2 side screens against defender X1.
Player 1 comes off the ball screen dribbling to the wing looking for a shot.
Do not stop dribbling.

    

Quick Shots
Second Look.
Player 4 ball screens against defender X1.
Player 1 comes off the ball screen looking for a quick shot at the top of the key.

Remember: Defender X2 will closeout against 1 and player 3 will be wide open for a shot. If defender X3comes out to contest the shot against 3, player 5 will get the pass from 3 on the block.

    

Quick Shots
Player 3 crosses over to side screen against defender X1.
Player 1 comes off the screen for a quick shot at wing.
Make sure player 5 holds the defender X4.

    

Quick Shots in the Lane
Player 1 dribbles up to the right wing then passes to 3 who cuts behind the zone to the top of the key.
Player 2 screens the middle of the zone defender X5.
Player 5 flashes into the lane to receive the pass from 3 for a shot.



Find a hand full of plays that work for your particular situation and then practice them. Once they can be executed in practice, try them in a game. And then run them again, and again, and again. Remember, itís the execution of plays that wins ball games, not the number of plays executed. Remember, a good coach designs plays that have the initial thrust of getting a specific player a shot, but also involve all 5 players on the court. Below are a few plays that can be effectively utilized against a 2-3 zone defense. Set plays vs. zone 2-3 defense

    

Spider Web
Step 1
Player 1 passes to 3 at the left wing then moves away.
Player 4 down screens against defender X3.
Player 2 slides down to the weak side corner.
Player 5 back screens against defender X2.

    

Spider Web
Step 2
Player 5 ball screens for 3 who dribbles to middle of the lane to draw the defender X1 then passes to 1.
Player 1 passes to 2 at corner.
Player 5 rolls to basket after screening 3 to get the pass from 2 at the corner for lay-up or shot.

    

45 Baseline
Step 1
Player 1 passes to 2.
Player 2 reverses the ball to 1 then cuts opposite corner to receive the double screen by 4 and 5.
Player 1 passes to 3 and 3 looks for 2 at ballside corner for a shot.
If player 2 is not open then player 4 comes up to elbow to get the pass from 3.
Player 5 steps into the lane to get the ball from 4 for a hook shot.

    

45 Baseline
Step 2
Remember: player 4 can feed 5 inside the lane or pass to 1 at right wing for a shot.
Player 2 cuts baseline to opposite corner for a possible pass from 1 for a shot at corner.

    

Both Up
Step 1
Player 1 passes to 2 and 2 immediately reverses the ball to 1.
At the same time players 4 and 5 flashes to both elbows.
Player 1 passes to 4, 4 looks for 5 who cuts into the lane for shot or lay-up.

    

Both Up
Step 2
If player 4 cannot pass to 5, then passes to 1 at top and cuts to the corner.
Player 1 hits 2 at wing.
Player 3 flashes to the free throw line to get the ball from 2 for a shot or feeds 5 in the lane.

    

Wide Four
Step 1
Player 1 passes to 2 and cuts to the right deep corner.
Player 4 pops out to the top to get the pass from 2.
Player 3 moves down to the left corner.

    

Wide Four
Step 2
Player 5 comes up to elbow to get the ball from 4.
Player 4 quickly cuts into the lane to receive the pass from 5.
Player 4 can attack the basket or swings to 1 at corner for a shot.

    

35 Far
This is a very unique play.
Step 1
Players 3 and 5 are close to the mid court line.
Players 2 and 4 are together at baseline.
At same time:
Player 2 comes up to the right wing and 4 to the elbow.
Player 1 passes to 2, then 2 quickly passes to 4.
Player 3 slides down to weakside corner.
Player 5 cuts into the lane to get the ball from 4 for lay-up.

Note: When 2 gets the ball ready to pass to 4, at that moment 5 should cut into the lane to get the pass from 4.

    

35 Far
Step 2
If player 5 cannot attack the basket then he looks for to 2 or 3 at corners for a shot.
If player 5 passes to 3 at corner, he then cuts to the ballside low post area to get the ball from 3 for a one-on-one to the hoop.
If player 5 decides to pass to 2 at corner then 2 can shoot or feeds 4 at low post.

    

435 Up
Step 1
Player 1 dribbles up to the left wing to pass to 3 who pops out to the top.
Player 5 down screens for 2.
Player 3 passes to 2 then cuts to the ballside deep corner.
When player 2 gets the ball, 4 flashes to the free throw line.

    

435 Baseline
Step 2
Player 2 can look for 3 at corner for a shot or 4 at free throw line.
If player 4 gets the ball he then looks for 5 inside the box.

    

23 Run
Step 1
Player 3 cuts into the lane to opposite wing.
Player 4 comes up to set a ball screen for 1.
Player 1 comes off the screen then hits 2 at the wing.

    

23 Run
Step 2
If player 2 pass to 5 at low post, then 4 explodes to the hoop looking for the pass from 5.
If the pass to 5 is denied, then 3 flashes to the free throw line to get the pass from 2 for a shot. Note: When 3 gets the ball he can shoot or penetrate into the lane looking to dish to 5.

    

Follow
Step 1
Player 4 and 5 exchange positions.
Player 1 passes to 2 at right wing while player 3 cuts to the ballside corner.

    

Follow
Step 2
Player 2 quickly reverses the ball to 1 then cuts to the left corner.
At the same time 3 follows 2 then goes to the left wing.
Player 1 passes to 3.
Player 3 should be wide open for a shot but if he is not, he looks for 2 at deep corner.
When 2 gets the ball, 5 cuts low post to get the pass from 2.

    

45 Fake
Step 1
Player 1 starts the play by dribbling the ball between the top defenders.
Player 3 cuts to the opposite corner.
Player 2 cuts into the lane then reverses to get the double screen by 4 and 5.
Player 2 comes up to the wing to receive the pass from 1 for a shot.

    

45 Fake
Step 2
If player 2 is not able to take the shot, then player 4 cuts opposite block and 5 comes up to the elbow.
Player 2 can either pass to 3 at corner or 5 at elbow.
If player 5 gets the ball, player 1 slides to the left wing looking for a pass over the top of the defender for a shot.

Note: When 1 gets the ball at the wing, he can look for 4 at low post. If 3 gets the ball at the corner then 5 cuts to the low post for a possible pass from 3.



Half Court Shooting Drills Against Zone Defense

Great shooters know and understand that the more basketball shooting drills you do, the better shooter you will be.
The following shooting drills are designed to improve any playersí ability to score against zone defense.

    

Wing Shooting Drill
Player 1 starts with the ball by passing to 3.
Player 3 reverses to 1 for a shot.

Note: Make sure players shooting both sides.

    

Skip Pass Shooting Drill
Player 1 starts with the ball by passing to 3.
Player 3 reverses to 1 and slides down to the left wing to receive the skip pass back from 1 for a shot.

Note: Make sure players shooting both sides.

    

Corner Shooting Drill
Player 3 passes to 1 then cuts to the ball side corner.
Player 1 passes to 3 for a shot.

Note: Make sure players shooting from both corners.

    

Elbow Shooting Drill
Both players come up to the elbows to receive the passes from their teammates for a turn-round jump shot.

    

Post Pass Shooting Drill
Player 2 passes to the coach then slides down to baseline.
The post player flashes to the elbow to receive the pass from the coach and quickly swings to 2 for a shot at corner.

    

Screen and Shoot
The wing player screens the guard in the zone, allowing for penetration and shot by the wing.

    

3 Point Kick-Out
Set up 4 in low post with 1 diagonally away on top.
Set up 5 in low post with 2 diagonally away.
Players 1 and 2 take perimeter shots.
Players 4 and 5 rebound.
Player 4 will kick out rebound to 1.
Player 5 will kick out rebound to 2.

    

Kick-Out, Move, 3 Pointer
Step 1
Set up a rebounder and shooter on each side.
The shooter moves from wing to corner for a pass from the rebounder.

    

Kick-Out, Move, 3 Pointer
Step 2
The shooter moves from wing to point for a pass from the rebounder.

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