The Pick and Roll Propaganda
“Blind man breakin’ out of a trance
Puts both of his hands in the pockets of chance
Hopin’ to find one circumstance of dignity.” Bob Dylan
I’m going out on a limb here and saying, “Somebody came in and changed the basketball rules while we weren’t looking and its integrity was stolen.” Let’s label it: The Pick and Roll Propaganda and consequential interpretation of the rules of the game results in players no longer learning the full game of basketball
From where I sit I see the modern day basketball player, by and large, becoming a victim of over-specialization. Robotically programmed if you will. How many players are learning the whole game? How many can learn it? How many players do you know, that really know the intricacies that come with mastering the entire game, inside out? Role players are one thing, fine, stars and specialists too, fine. Robotics is another thing, while players that are “specialized” in the total game are very few and very far between. And here I ask, what about “glue” players, guys who make key plays and produce in other ways? The ones who don’t have the big numbers that the specialists get? Who’s more important and which has more value?
Integrity of the game
Was and is basketball still a team game? The Pick and Roll Propaganda which encourages seven-foot men to brutally and in motion, block, damage, and destroy smaller players speaks directly to the integrity of the game itself my friends, and it’s screaming that there is absolutely no dignity in it. Ever since its invention, basketball has been a “fair rules” game. There was dignity in decisions, designed as a game of equal balance of offensive and defensive concepts, a game that allowed for proportionate defensive and offensive solutions. The integrity of the game was based on it and IMO, until recently, was preserved. Yet, permitting the use of moving blocks (screens) introduces a condition of inequality that demolishes its balance as a game. Moving blocks, on and off the ball, in worldwide basketball were until recently, prohibited, controlled and strictly sanctioned just as they were in the NBA. It’s different now, very different.
Moving blocks are destroying basketball
One of basketball’s most important defensive teachings and rules has been that players had to, “go over the top” when confronted with guarding the player with the ball in the presence of a block/screen. Moving blocks make this obligation impossible. Because they create an unfair, un-defendable situation that forces a defensive team to react in an obligatory way. In essence what they have also created is a situation where referees have no discernible rules to guide them, relying on individual opinions in judging the physical contact between three players. Worrisome. Nowadays Euro teams have become totally dependent on these “moving blocks”. Using continuous Pick and Roll’s you can let a large player block like an NFL lineman. As a result, the game has become a rougher version of Handball– hard to understand and defined by friends as karate with a ball. Is this what the rectors of our game want? I hope not. Did someone use the word “Evolution” of the game? I may smell and even stink naïve, but my understanding of evolution implies improvement. Moving blocks are the exact opposite. They destroy. Period.
Follow the bouncing ball defensive deployment
So what’s the logic? That both teams have the same weapon is not an argument. Moving Blocks create a situation that OBLIGES the defensive team to play the game in a specific way. Technically speaking, moving blocks create half-court, five against four situations. The defense is forced into a type of collapsing, match-up zone, to protect against penetration, the danger of the rolling, running interference or popping pivot and the stretched spaces and passing lanes created. Simply put, the defense must now scramble to protect the basket. Therefore, all defensive player must now be in constant “help” position, allowing a situation where the ball can be freely circulated. Consequently, even the simplest, traditional, tried and true, basic defensive concept of the “one pass away, off the ball” defensive player in “deny” defense position is impossible to achieve. Because moving blocks have created a “follow the bouncing ball” defensive deployment. Forget Bobby Knight or the defensive predisposition to, “dominate your adversary.” There are seven foot moving bodies mowing (smaller) players down! Forget “Help Side”. Players have to be primarily concerned with self-preservation and ball penetration, in that order.
Match-up zones, pick and roll, and other boring stuff
Traditionally, when a coach’s game plan against a superior team is to try and keep a game rhythm controlled and try to “keep it close,” the match-up zone is a viable defensive weapon that can achieve that goal. Moving blocks oblige the teams in Europe to play this defense in 80% of their half court protection. Boring. For the offense, on the ball moving blocks provide penetration to the basket. The helping and adjusting by the adversary forces kick out passes, which produces a higher number of long distance shots being taken, which increases the number of long (erratic) offensive rebounds grabbed or swatted outside, which creates more offensive possessions (not necessarily higher scores). For the defense, moving blocks create disadvantaged five on four situations, a continuous help and recover race, an impossible box out situation, and a helter-skelter free for all after every outside shot. In conclusion, moving blocks to be considered not a part of fair play rules and are not what the inventors had in mind. The result, besides being dangerous, they destroy the integrity and the dignity of the game.
“So many roads, so much at stake
So many dead ends and I’m at the edge of the lake
Sometimes I wonder what its gonna take
To find dignity.”
Layup: Even though invented in Hamburg anybody ever wonder why it’s not better named a Handburger?
I Love This Game. However, please keep in mind that in America LeBron James is not The King, Baseball is.
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Mike Hyde- Talking about the Integrity of the game Mike and as you wrote, the value to the game of allowing moving blocks on and off the ball. Plz see my response to CUgame. Records are being set and broken by this new, I think, unfair and dangerous “interpretation” of the game we love.
Richard Lauer- It is being allowed in too many places and is a major part of Euro basketball too. The young ones are right, though the NBA is a Show as all sports are when the become professionally supported. “Showtime” is great to have too. Moving blocks, not so much.
Agree with much of what you stated. At my level, high school girls, for nearly 50 years with a few off at major colleges, my kids don’t even like to go to professional games. The see it….coach that’s a moving pick, then the try what they saw at practice….then run a bit. Kids can tell then the league is fully aware of what they are allowing.
Tim, your opinion is covering “rules” not basketball play. While players in the NBA are more performers and showmen, they take what is given/allowed by the referees and the wants of owners. The rule “moving screen” was discussed brilliantly!
I have been a D1player, a coach, and a referee! At every level the discussed has and should not be allowed. So….a pick and roll IS the game if done correctly. The pick is set and held. The ball handler is the “mover” and his ONLY job is to be running his D-man INTO the pick! It’s simple! To complete this valued and beautiful move/play, the man with the ball turns his own O-man thus rolling him along and open for a pass back to the picker because the pickers’ man is now behind the play! No chance for other defenseman except to jump in front of the ball handler which then allows the ballhandler to pass to the picker or go past the D-man.
Because you only mention 7 footers, we did not get your drift about the game being destroyed. Two 4 footers running a pick and roll against two 6’8″ players would give the advantage to the 4 footers IF a moving pick was not allowed.
Being allowed to “change the rules” is only allowed by the referee. If they would call the game as intended by the rule, it would be great. But I ask you, do you always drive your car at the posted speed or like everyone, do you see this sign as a suggestion so you proceed recklessly at what you can get away with?
To CUgame. Does C U Game mean it’s all over for the game? 🙂 lease let me say that: Moving screen-blocks on the ball whether moving aggressively- Right, Left. Down, Up, Sideways, Backwards, Hips out, legs wider than the shoulders and moving, elbows as weapons folded in front of the chest moving at the level of the smaller guards they are ALL dangerous and mostly infractions! Thanks for reading and your opinion.. but I see it as a destructive change of interpretation, disrespectful of our great game.
Best, Tim Shea
Moving screens are the issue and the NBA’s reluctance to call them. To guard the pick and roll you need the whole team, and that’s why it’s so deadly. Because shit coaches hardly teach individual defense let alone team D. I agree though when watching Golden State or Houston, there’s on average 1 moving screen a possession it seems, and the NBA needs to start calling those more often, just like the hop travel and Iverson carry (John Wall still gets away with this shit tho). The title should honestly say Houston and Golden State (minus Durant) are ruining basketball. Between the moving screens of Golden State/Houston and the travels of Harden, it gets infuriating. The pick and roll is a great offense if you run it properly since it singles out the weakest link defender. Teams who play good team D can shut it down, especially if you blanket the main ball handler (see Spurs)
yeah and it doesn’t help that you can’t even go over the screen without getting a shooting foul called on you. The only way at this point is to have athletic big men and be able to switch the pick n roll, which Golden state will probably do to Houston if they play.
Or getting ur head knocked off by a bigman moving elbow or extending hip!
I am going to ask that we put film or some decent GIFS on this piece so its easy to see the movements. The pictures are great but its movement that we are talking about.
Thanks for commenting. The more we talk about it the better chance somebody “upstairs” notices.