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Pick-and-Pop Play: Versatility for Point Guards

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    Sports Tips


The pick-and-pop play is a dynamic offensive strategy in basketball, offering point guards a reliable way to generate scoring opportunities. Unlike the pick-and-roll, where the big man dives towards the basket, the pick-and-pop play involves the big man setting a screen and then popping out to an open spot on the floor for a jump shot. This play leverages the shooting ability of big men and puts pressure on the defense to make quick decisions.

Key Elements of the Pick-and-Pop

To execute a successful pick-and-pop, several elements need to align. Understanding these can help both players and coaches fine-tune their approach:

  1. The Screen: The screen must be solid, causing the defender to either over-commit or be unable to navigate around it easily.

  2. Spacing: Proper spacing is crucial. The point guard must have enough space to maneuver while the big man needs a clear area to pop to.

  3. Timing: Precise timing between the point guard's movement and the big man's pop is essential to exploit defensive errors.

  4. Shooting Ability: The big man should have a reliable jump shot from mid-range or beyond the arc.

Step-by-Step Breakdown

Here's a closer look at the pick-and-pop play execution:

1. SetupThe point guard (PG) dribbles to a designated area, usually the top of the key or the wing.
2. ScreenThe big man (BM) sets a firm screen on the defender guarding the PG.
3. DecisionThe PG reads the defense: if the defender goes under, the PG can take a shot. If over, continue.
4. PopPost-screen, the BM pops out to an open spot beyond the restricted area, looking for a pass.
5. PassThe PG delivers a sharp pass to the BM, who should be in shooting position immediately.
6. ShotThe BM takes the open jump shot, ideally having created enough separation for a clean look.

Advanced Tips for Players

Point Guards

  • Vision: Develop court vision to quickly read defenses and anticipate the pop.
  • Pace: Change speeds to keep defenders off balance.
  • Handle: Improve ball-handling to navigate through tight spaces.
  • Communication: Signal your big man for on-the-fly adjustments.

Big Men

  • Footwork: Focus on quick, precise footwork to transition smoothly from screen to shot.
  • Shooting: Maintain a consistent jump shot from different spots.
  • Awareness: Always be aware of your position relative to the three-point line and defenders.
  • Physicality: Use your body to create space and maintain balance during the shot.

Coaching Wisdom

From a coaching perspective, the pick-and-pop can be a powerful weapon to diversify your Teams offense. Here are some advanced strategies to consider:

  • Diversify Roles: Encourage versatile big men and guards to switch roles to confuse defensive setups.
  • Drills: Use specific drills that mimic game situations to improve timing and synchronization.
  • Film Study: Analyze film to identify opponents' weaknesses in defending the pick-and-pop.
  • Adaptive Playcalling: Have alternate plays ready if opponents adjust their defense to counter the pick-and-pop.


The pick-and-pop play is not just a trick up the sleeve; it's a reliable part of any offensive repertoire. Point guards can exploit this play to create high-percentage scoring opportunities, while big men can showcase their shooting range. By mastering the intricacies of the pick-and-pop, players can enhance their versatility on the court, and coaches can add another layer of depth to their offensive strategy.

Remember: The key to a successful pick-and-pop lies in coordination, timing, and the ability to read the game as it unfolds.

Stay tuned for more basketball insights and strategies to elevate your game!

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