Splitting the Pick & Roll

By Gibson Pyper

This week for FastModel Friday we are going to analyze a pick and roll read that I think is very important: the Split. Splitting the pick and roll is an underused read but can be very effective in certain situations when you can catch the defense off guard. For this breakdown we are going to look at Russell Westbrook, a player who I believe is one of the best players attacking the basket out of the pick and roll. I want to thank Drew Hanlen for teaching some of these reads in a free pick and roll breakdown he provided, he does great work and is always helping coaches get better.

The main key in splitting the pick and roll is when and what reads to make to trigger this action. Splitting the ballscreen relies on two main components:

  1. Reading the big man’s defensive position.
  2. Selling the defense on actually using the ballscreen.

When reading the defensive player’s position you should notice how attached the big is to his defender and if you know how the team typically defends the ballscreen then it can make this read easier. If the big is up higher in pick and roll defense but not attached to his man, this means there will be space available to split and get into the lane.

splitread

defender

3 keys to setting up and executing the split:

  1. Use eyes to look away big.
  2. Fake use of ballscreen to set up split.
  3. Throw the ball through (Most Important).

When you are attacking in the pick and roll, and you notice the big man leaving space and coming out to high hedge or show and recover, this allows a split to be available. To set this up you can have the player stare above the big, or a false show, to fake using the ballscreen and then dribble inside to split. Right as the split occurs and is available the offensive player should throw the ball through toward the paint and create extra space to get to the rim. An example of Russ throwing the ball through in slow motion is below:

This is just one of the many pick and roll reads, but a very important one that can be effective against teams that like to play aggressive defense against the ballscreen.

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Gibson Pyper
Creator/Owner of thebasketballplaybook.com & half court hoops youtube channel. I love NBA & NCAA X's & O's and look to help coaches everywhere!
Gibson Pyper

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