Spread Ball Screen vs. 2-3 Zone

By Randy Sherman

Using Spread Ball Screen versus 2-3 Zone can provide carryover from your man-to-man offense to your zone offense. 

Many coaches have a high desire to use the same or similar offenses versus man-to-man and zone defense. By using spread ball screen concepts versus a 2-3 Zone you may accomplish this. This allows your transition offense to remain the same whether you are facing man-to-man or 2-3 Zone as you are essentially running the same offense against both.

First some spread ball screen basics. There are terms you may need to become familiar with; mainly the difference between the double side and single side depicted in the diagram below.

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Versus 2-3 Zone, the preference is to run spread ball screen into the double side. When Player 5 sets the inside ball screen for Player 1 on X1, the guard (X2 below) provides the key read.

X2 will usually help seal the space between the guards as the commandment for the top guards in a 2-3 is “don’t get split” with the dribble or the pass. By sealing, X2 prevents the split but surrenders the kick to the high wing (Player 4).


When executed properly, the offense now has the Forward (X3) triangulated (Frame 1 below). Player 5 rolls to the block; he/she cannot get fronted by X5. X3 now has a dilemma and Player 4 must think a pass ahead and know where the ball goes next based on the Forward’s decision.


With two shooters holding the sideline on the double side that dilemma becomes even more pronounced. Should the Forward (X3) stay flat, Player 4 steps into a shot or drives the gap between X3 and X2. Should the Forward fly out at Player 4, make the one more pass to 3 in the corner. Either of the players on the double side may dump it into 5. Again, 5 cannot get fronted or we lose our triangulation.

The three diagrams below show a second scenario the offense must read and adjust to.


X2 is still the key read. In Frame 1 above, the defense uses the Center (X5) to step up and stop the penetration between the guards. This allows X2 to deter the kickout to Player 4 at the high wing. The zone would have enough players to match up to the double side and avoid the overload. This is an automatic throwback read. 

In Frame 1 above, Player 1 throws back to Player 2 rising to the high wing from the corner. Player 3 sprints the baseline to create the overload on the throw back. In Frames 2 & 3 above you now see the same triangulation of the Forward (X4).

Player 2 makes the same reads. Step into shot if X4 stays flat or “one more” it to the corner if X4 flies out.

Please visit the below submissions to the FastModel PlayBank for complete details on using Spread Ball Screen vs. 2-3 Zone. Here you can add the diagrams to your own play library:

Spread Ball Screen vs. 2-3 Zone – a summary of the concepts above when heading into the double side. 

Spread Ball Screen vs. 2-3 Zone (Single Side) – making adjustments when the actions is heading into the single side.

Continue the conversation:

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Randy Sherman is the owner and founder of Radius Athletics - a basketball coaching consulting firm - where he consults with basketball coaches at all levels on coaching philosophy, practice planning, Xs & Os and teaching a conceptual style of basketball. While a head basketball coach at the the interscholastic level, Sherman's teams won 197 games in nine seasons.
November 12, 2018: Tyler Williams (1) drives to the hoop against Matisse Thybulle (4) during a basketball game between the Washington Huskies and the University of San Diego. The game was played at Hec Ed Pavilion in Seattle, WA. Jeff Halstead / CSM(Credit Image: © Jeff Halstead/CSM via ZUMA Wire)

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