What Is The Pick And Roll In Basketball

In basketball, a pick and roll is a game where a player usually sets a pick for another one and thereafter rolls toward the basket. In this game, a basketball player can handle the ball …

What Is The Pick And Roll In Basketball

In basketball, a pick and roll is a game where a player usually sets a pick for another one and thereafter rolls toward the basket. In this game, a basketball player can handle the ball and keep it near or pass it to the rolling player.

Remember that this tactic is used broadly throughout all levels of this game. 

Normally, it occurs between two offensive basketball players, mainly between the point guard and a big man.

But only two basketball players can use it. Hence, defenders play a major role in communicating who and where they defend. In addition, they match up against multiple offensive players within a single possession. 

Although these are easy to play, this one occurs at all levels of basketball. The reason is that players can run easily, and there are several options and creativity that pick and rolls allow.

It can be done at any location like from the top side, baseline side, etc. This article lets you learn what it is, why we call it a pick and roll, the procedure of running, and other information related to it. So, let’s dive into the guide to know further about the play. 

Why Is It Called A Pick And Roll?

Like other plays in basketball, this term indicates what happens during the play. It is because the first term is ‘pick’ while the second one is ‘roll.’

What Is The Pick And Roll In Basketball

Remember that this term refers to something more than a specific type of play. Basketball players can use the play to indicate the rest options of the major play.

How To Run A Pick And Roll

It is how basketball players can run this play:-

In this type of play, the basketball player who handles the ball has to bring it up the court. Then, the player needs to stop playing above the key top, facing the basket. 

When players dribble the ball and try to move it, they can make separation and room for a pick, called a screen. 

It is when a second basketball player comes into the play. In this case, the second person from another location on the court goes to the on-ball defender. 

Here is where the second player enters the play. Then, the second person has the chance to set a pick on the defender, angled back towards the basket.

Generally, players need to set it on the opposing player’s left or right back hip serving as a defender. It makes an excellent angle ideal for a drive-by player with the basketball or a roll by the screen-setting player.

The player handling the ball might attack the opponent’s side where the screen has been set. The screen will wall off the on-ball defender when they dribble across to the side.

As a result, the defenders can be switched, or the player dribbling can get around the edge and to the basket.

Then, the screen-setting player starts rolling towards the basket. After that, they catch the ball or a lob from the ball-handler.

They will play against a smaller player and get a better position to score than they could perform against a smaller defender. 

Why Are Pick And Rolls Effective?

Recently, this type of play has been played in many basketball games. It is sometimes regarded as the dominance of the offense in the NBA. 

This type of play is very effective because players can make matchups for the offense. When a point guard and a center apply this play, they will face generally similar-sized defenders.

If two defenders change their position for any pick, both offensive players will face the other’s, original defender.

The defender switch can benefit offensive players, but it depends on what they are willing to do with the basketball following the initial pick.

If a smaller guard faces a tall defender, he gets a benefit while handling the ball. Thus, they can get around the defender easily and finish at the basket. 

Above all, you can see during the play that the larger center might face a small-sized defender. As a result, they will get immense benefits around the rim.

Therefore, tall players can easily score a goal because smaller opponent players are not up to their height like their original defenders. 

In addition, it delivers momentum to the opponent players to move to the basket to score the goal. It is one of the effective factors of a pick. Common sense can say that the easiest location to score a goal in the game is to remain close to the rim as much as possible. 

The screener or the roller could get the chance from the play to possess the basketball on the way to the basket.

Thus, it can make a high percentage chance. If you know how close you need to be to the rim and get the matchup benefit, you will view how the play generates numerous fouls and chances to throw the basketball for free. 

Plenty of contacts are associated with the initial pick. But when the action comes closer to the basket, you can see the contact boosting because defenders will try to recover and contest it.

A player who makes a foul near the rim will allow a basketball player to throw the ball for free. It is another benefit of points for the offense.

These are effective as they can produce plenty of chances to move forward with the play. The opponent players can go to the basket and rotate out to take a shot from outside. In addition, they can pass away from the major action to other offensive players. 

History Of The Pick And Roll

We have given the history of this play like its origin, how it began, by whom it was started, etc. 

What Is The Pick And Roll In Basketball

Although this play has become famous, the origin of this gameplay is older than you can think. Until the 1960s, people didn’t record the term. Nat Holman and Barney Sedran invented the concept first in the 1910s.

They first played for professional teams together, and they were the ones who made the concept popular. 

But the play did not enter the world of basketball until the 1980s when it was created by dynamic duos such as John Stockton, Karl Malone & Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen.

In recent times, usually every team uses it in the NBA. It is mainly used because basketball players have developed different skills, resulting in various offensive schemes. 

1. Pick And Roll Offense

It is an easy play to run where merely two players are needed with a simple screen to work effectively.

If the game experiences its maximum potential, ensure two players must showcase their different skills and decision-making abilities. It confuses the defenders, causing them to offer extra space to the opponent team players, though they switch.

This offense also relies on effective offensive spacing, where both players are required to set up the game. Then, let the roller & screener move throughout the play. There are three other players on the floor, and they must be active off the ball. 

Besides, they should attempt to make a position to create an active threat to the defense. They need to respect those who don’t have a direct connection with the play. Thus, they could get the required space to operate the play. 

At last, the opponent players who set screens as a part of the play must ensure that they should abide by the screen rules. It indicates that they need to keep their feet set. In addition, they must not move while the player handling the ball uses the pick. 

2. Pick And Roll Defense

These are very challenging to defend. But some tricks exist through which players can defend the play.

They can switch in their defense, indicating that every defender switches to guard others involved in the play. It limits the screen sets’ impact as a play part, but it has faced a few drawbacks in the method.

At last, defenders need to attempt to fight via a screen directly and should be with those against whom they were defending. It is a challenging job for several players as powerful athletic players have to break through the screen of a larger player while standing in front of the person. 

Usually, it is the best process to defend a basketball player who is defending the ball and is a perfect outside shooter.

The reason is that other defensive techniques might enable the players’ space to launch an open three-pointer.

Best Pick And Roll Players In NBA History

This gaming tactic has become usual nowadays, but a few duos exist above the rest of the people for their effectiveness and production. People know the Utah Jazz duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone, the all-time best. 

What Is The Pick And Roll In Basketball

They are the greatest of all time because they made the play famous and let people know about the versatility of the NBA rest. However, they can put up large numbers.

It was an excellent capability of Stockton to make sudden decisions at crucial times, which allowed Malone and him to combine on different passing angles and drives to the basket. 

Stockton remained the leading basketball player for nine seasons and set the NBA record with 14.5 assists each game in the 1989-90 season.

In the middle, Malone had stunning inside scoring and rebounding power. Besides, he was skilled in outside shooting. It even forced defenders to guard the play, accounting for many chances. His best season was 1989-90 when he used to get 31.0 points per game on average with 11.1 rebounds each game.

The Utah Jazz could not get over the hump and become the winner of that era. However, the duo of Stockton and Malone set the standard, and they still have the best record on their names in the world of basketball at the play.

Except for this Jazz duo, you can learn about the famous duos who were awesome at running the play.

There are a few NBA duos like Phoenix Suns players Steve Nash & Amare Stoudemire, Chris Paul & DeAndre Jordan of the “Lob City”-era Los Angeles Clippers, and the Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry & Draymond Green.


1. What is a pick and roll point?

It is a play where two basketball players must create a screen and a cut. If a player of the opposing team receives a screen from a power forward or center, the defender will be rolled off. 

2. Why is pick and roll important in basketball?

It is important because defenders need to decide on every possession.

A wrong decision can allow opponent players to attempt to pass the ball to the popping man or make a drive to the paint or kick-out pass. 

Check More:

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