Modern Warfare

The basis of pick and roll defense, no matter how advanced it has become, always boils down to a simple choice - to go “over” or “under.” At all levels, the defender guarding the ball has to pick his poison. Try to follow your man over the screen and risk getting burnt for a layup, but duck under it and you may give him space for an open jumpshot. It’s the bread and butter of NBA basketball and it’s deadlier than ever in today’s game where teams shoot more 3’s than ever before.

Traditionally, pick and rolls have been run to get the ballhandler a shot around the 15-20 foot range, but players like Stephen Curry have pulled the line way back, giving the defense a new headache. Before Curry, we simply don’t remember any guard consistently pulling up off the dribble from 3 point range.

He currently attempts these shots a league leading 4.1 times per game and makes them at a ridiculous 40.4%. (For comparison’s sake, this would rank among the top 20 in the NBA for 3 point % overall). The tried and tested strategies against the pick and roll simply don’t apply when a guy can regularly make these shots - “going under” is going to get you burnt for 3 instead of 2 and “going over” gives the ballhandler huge space to work in.

We’re not quite sure how you’re supposed to stop this and given the way Curry has lit up the NBA the last 2 seasons, we don’t think we’re the only ones.


Author of the article

Melbourne born and raised. My hobbies over the years have included dunk contests on the 8 foot rim in Paul Vido's backyard, skipping uni to play pickup from dawn til dusk and a short-lived career as a point guard with a broken jumpshot. More recently, Paul and I ran a moderately successful operation over at The Baseline Leaner which covered the NBA and NBL. You can now find us in The Locker Room @ Downtown - continuing our mission to provide the world with unique basketball content and generally behaving strangely. Follow me on Twitter @32MJ32

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