Best Zone Against 3 Point Shooters

Daniel Brown
• Thursday, 22 October, 2020
• 10 min read

As a result of this, the shooting guard is one of the most feared players to mark in the league due to his array of talent and his technique from beyond the arc. Starting the decade as a rotation player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden has ended it leading a unique, small-ball offense in Houston.

nba mobile players point shooters shooter shooting
(Source: www.youtube.com)


Utah Jazz v Portland Trail BlazersComing off the back of a career year in the league, Damian Lillard is third on our list of top shooters for the 2020-21 NBA season. If the Trail Blazers are to succeed this year, they will rely on Damian's ability to come up in the clutch, taking on shots most defenders wouldn't expect to have to contest.

The Miami Heat relied upon Robinson's shot-making abilities throughout their run to the NBA playoffs and will continue to do so if they are to repeat their success this season. Now that the NBA 2020 season has begun, Heat fans will be excited to see that Robinson is expected to be one of the team's point leaders on the floor to aid Jimmy Butler and Bam Debate.

This post is a compilation of some analytics information that supports the belief that the best three point defenses limit the number of three point shots that their opponents shoot and essentially are not consistently effective at forcing low three point percentages by their opponents. These ideas are from Army Men’s Assistant Oak Convert’s blog PickandPop.net.

The Free Throw Percentage “Allowed” had a higher correlation from year to year than did the 3Point Field Goal Percentage Allowed, indicating that a team’s ability to force low three point percentages varies greatly from season to season and game to game. Pomeroy did another analytical study of three point defense between 2009 and 2012 in men’s NCAA Division I Basketball.

1) Dick Bennett’s belief that over the course of a game, you can only do two of these three things consistently well– 1) Deny 2) Help 3) Recover. Most teams work to get open three point attempts that are not able to be challenged.

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(Source: www.youtube.com)

If we can be in position to recover to shooters (makers) to be able to make an impactful challenge, then we are likely to discourage an attempt in most cases. WIN MORE GAMES with offenses, defenses, plays, drills, fundamentals, strategy, animations, video, Playbook download, youth section... unique, mobile ready.

If O3 is not open for the shot, O3 dribbles up to the top (diagram 11), as O1 and O2 rotate over to the corner and wing respectively. O4 and O5 relocate inside to set up the last staggered double-screen, this time a baseline screen for O1.

To get good spacing, it is important for O2 to dribble high to the top, even with the lane line. O4 picks for O1 who cuts around the screen, eventually out to the opposite corner.

O2 has the option of shooting the three-pointer, or passing inside to O4 in the low post. O5 could get the pass from either O3, or directly from O4 (“slip” option) if the defense overplays the O5-on-O3 screen.

This is another play that uses the “elevator” screen used at the high post (diagram B below). We start with O5 and O4 setting up at the free-throw line, just far enough apart so that O2 can cut between them (diagram A).

mcdermott nba doug scouting report basketball college cut he
(Source: www.sbnation.com)

O2 starts low inside (diagram A) as O5 slides up to the elbow. We run this simple play out of our 4-out motion offense.

Notice that O5 starts on the side that we are running the play to and does not go to the ball-side short corner in this case (like we do in our normal zone offense where O5 runs the baseline). O1 passes to O2 in the corner (diagram A), which gets the low outside defender X4 to come out and guard O2 (who is a good shooter).

In theory, the On-Off technique disrupts the shooter's rhythm, and they make fewer shots. Due to other principles emphasized in the Al Marshall's 2- 3Zone Defense, there are multiple help defenders to make dribble penetration difficult and contest every shot.

I want to preface this article with this statement: The 2- 3zone defense should not be allowed in youth basketball. This formation is effective because it places your team in the gaps of the zone and forces the defense out of their ideal positions.

When a player receives the basketball on the perimeter, there will often be a clear lane to the basket in front of them that they can attack. Being in the gaps of the defense can also confuse them as to who should guard the basketball which can lead to open players all over the floor.

(Source: pdalife.ru)

If a player receives the basketball and finds themselves with an open lane to the basket in front of them, they should immediately attack the gap. Players will find that, with good spacing, the quicker the basketball is passed around the more gaps will present themselves in the defense.

Pass fakes are super effective against a zone because the defense is always anticipating the next move they need to make. Often a single defender will have the difficult task of guarding two offensive players in their area.

When a pass fake is made, the defender will usually anticipate where they need to rotate to next and start leaning towards their next assignment. This slight movement can lead to open lanes and the defenders taking valuable time to get back into the correct position.

Make sure your players have been taught how to correctly fake a pass without coming off-balance so that they can explode to the ring if the defense goes for it. When the ball is at this position, the player with the basketball has many options to attack the defense.

Nearly every time I watch a team play against a zone they put their center at the free-throw line in this position without even considering other options. The worst thing you can do against a zone is hold the basketball and allow the defense to fully recover and establish their ideal positions.

shooter zone seller bd diamond
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In order to beat a zone, you must keep the defenders moving and scrambling to recover. This is achieved by quick passing of the basketball, good spacing between players, and constantly looking for gaps in the defense that can be exploited.

Explain to your players that when they have possession they have a maximum of one second to decide whether to pass, shoot, or dribble. Keep in mind that the highest percentage shots you will get against a zone occur after one or two ball reversals when the defense is starting to break down and the defenders are fatigued.

If the basketball is caught in the short corner, the offensive player has many options to attack the zone … Shot fake and attack the rim for an easy basket or a foul.

When the low zone defenders step up to help on dribble penetration, a simple drop-down pass to the baseline player will often result in an easy score. One benefit of the opposing team running a zone is that the offense has the ability to decide the matchups on the court.

When coaching against a 2- 3zone, identify the weak links and target these defenders by forcing them to match up against your best offensive players. As this matchup favors the offense, your guard can blow past them every time and get into the paint where they can score or create a shot their teammates.

(Source: petrofilm.com)

This strategy exploits the fact that in a zone defense each defender has a specific area of the court to guard. As long as the three players have spaced themselves out along the three- point line, the two defenders will struggle to challenge the shooters while also preventing dribble penetration.

This is a difficult task for the zone defenders so there are frequent offensive rebound opportunities (especially from the weak-side) as long as you send players to the glass, and they’re relentless in pursuit of the ball. If your team gains an early lead in the game, consider holding the basketball near half-court so that the defense is forced to discard their 2- 3zone and come out and play you man-to-man.

It’s a great idea to give your team some experience and confidence when competing against a 2- 3zone prior to coming up against it during a game. Assign a few 10-15 minute blocks in your practices early in the season to teach your players the strategies in this article that you think will work best for your team.

Your players will enjoy changing things up at practice, and it will give them confidence when they face a 2- 3zone during a game. It doesn’t matter how well you execute overloading the zone, how often the basketball into the hands of your best passer at the free throw line, or how good your spacing is if your players don’t knock down their shots.

This fact alone is the main reason why it’s such a common defense in youth basketball. When the basketball is passed inside, it forces the defense to collapse and will result in wide-open jump shots for your team.

(Source: petrofilm.com)

If you’re serious about being prepared, I encourage you to read my article on the 2- 3zone defense to completely understand its strengths and weaknesses.

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