Handling Ball Screens Like Steve Nash

While watching game 4 of the Bulls-Celtics series, Jeff Van Gundy stated that Derrick Rose needed to handle the switches on ball screens more like Steve Nash.

Towards the beginning of the game, the Celtics were switching on ball screens leaving a bigger, slower post player guarding Rose. Rose was settling for the jump shot or he would try to attack when he was already too close to the hoop to take advantage of his quickness.

When Steve Nash gets a big player switched onto him, he takes a couple of dribbles backwards.

This does a few things:

  1. Lures the bigger player out further away from the hoop.
  2. Allows the offensive player to gain momentum while dribbling towards the player which makes it easier to blow by the defender or change directions if needed.
  3. Gives teammates an extra second to space the floor properly. This spreads the defense out which gives the player with the ball more room to penetrate.

After you draw out the defender, how should you attack the defender?

  • If the defensive player drops into the lane, you can use the mid-range jump shot.
  • If the defensive player stays parallel and does not move, you can explode straight past them.
  • If the defense comes up and puts a foot forward, you can fake an explosion move or inside-out move, then cross the defender over.
  • If the help defense collapses, you can kick the ball out to an open teammate.

In the 4th quarter of the Bulls-Celtics game, I noticed Rose started to draw out the defender with a couple of dribbles backwards like Van Gundy had mentioned earlier in the broadcast. I don’t know if he figured it out himself or a coach told him to do it, but it sure contributed to his 12 point explosion in the 4th quarter that helped the Bulls come from behind and eventually squeak out the victory in double overtime.


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9 thoughts on “Handling Ball Screens Like Steve Nash”

  1. Good post. I did a clinic last week on using an on-ball screen and asked the players what to do if they got the switch. Nobody really knew. So, I asked what Steve Nash does? It’s like high school players don’t even watch basketball. I talked about squaring shoulders to the rim and taking a couple dribbles back to attack the big. Basically, make the defender uncomfortable. If you try to turn the corner right away, he’s close enough to contest a shot on the guard and there is less space to the help defender. Plus, he does not feel exposed. Take a step back and make the seven-footer feel like he is on an island against Nash, and he makes the mistake for you because he is uncomfortable.

  2. Guillermo Moreno

    What about if there is not a switch but a hard trap on the ball? Still take it the couple of dribbles back.

  3. Guillermo,

    Yes. You could take a couple of dribble back. As you do this, you could locate the open offensive players.

    Another option would be to split the trap. Act like you’re going to go hard towards the outside shoulder of the traping defender, then use a long, low dribble to split the trap. We’re finishing up an article that should be available on this move within the next week.

    Another option would be to dribble hard at the trapping defender’s outside shoulder and blow right by. Sometimes, if a larger, slower defender traps, this will be open.

  4. sometimes wen i do dribbling drills, i get this sharp pain sometimes on my forearms or wrists.
    is that normal?

  5. We teach them to mix it up. To occasionally attack the front foot of the defender switching as they hedge, or if they show soft to shoot over the top, and then to draw them out like Steve Nash. Score and time also factors.

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