Strategy Guide
Defending the Post

 With the release of NBA 2K8 and NBA Live 08, basketball gaming has burst onto the scene for this year. As the games develop and progress it becomes increasingly more important to know some basics about the game of basketball and how to use the tools at your disposal appropriately. In a series of articles I will cover some basketball basics you can use on the virtual hardwood. Today, we’ll look at defending the post. 

If you want to have success in basketball then you must defend the painted area of the court. It is nice to have guys that can shoot it from a different area code but the game is about putting the ball in the hole. It’s easier to do that from three feet away than from 26 feet away. 

Most good offenses revolve around getting the ball to a post player on the low block. The options when having the ball at this spot are almost limitless. A good post player, like Tim Duncan, will score from here all night. If he gets double-teamed then he can kick the ball out to wide-open shooters. If the double-team comes from the opposite side then he can pass to a man cutting to the basket. This is why you often hear about teams playing offense from the “inside-out.” The team wants to get the ball in the post first to open up the floor and the options to score. In essence, it’s the name of the game.

So, how do you defend the post, you say?  There are several options.  Let’s look at each one and examine its effectiveness. 

Play A Zone Defense:
Playing zone puts more defenders around the paint area. It is easier to have several people cover the blocks in a zone because most defenders are placed in those spots. A good zone choice would be the 2-3. It packs your bigger players in the paint and forces an offensive post player to rely more on his perimeter teammates than his ability to score. A good offense has to move the ball by passing to get the zone to shift in order to create a good shot for a post player. Even with the defense out of position it is still hard to simply get a one-on-one match-up in the post.  Effectiveness: 8 out of 10

Front the Post
Fronting the post involves having the post player’s defender move in front of the post to prevent a good entry pass. This strategy deters the offense from throwing the ball directly into the post. Be careful though. Even if your defender gets a good “front” there could still be trouble. A good passer can simply lob the ball over the top of the defense for an easy lay-up or dunk. Therefore, help defense is critical if you decide to front the post. The defender on the opposite block has to be aware of what’s going on or the next thing you’ll see is someone swinging from the rim after a dunk.  Effectiveness:  5 out of 10


Double the Post
Doubling the post involves sending a second or third defender down to guard the post player once he/she catches the ball. Doing this throws the offensive player off his rhythm and can create easy turnovers. It also makes the offense second-guess throwing the ball into the post, causing them to settle for outside shots or dribble drives. Most double teams come from the wing. A defender will drop down to double the post player leaving an offensive player wide open on the perimeter.

The defender that is sent to double has to recover and close out quickly to prevent the post player from throwing a quick pass back outside for a wide-open jump shot. Some teams send a defender from the top of the key for a double team in order to try and confuse the post player. It can work for one or two possessions but if the offensive player that is left uncovered cuts to the basket then you could give up an easy lay-up.

Some teams send a second defender to come from behind the post player with the ball, and most of the time this player is leaving the opposite block. I personally don’t care for this option because the post player with the ball has a better chance of making a pass for a lay-up.

Some will disagree with me but as a coach I would rather have someone taking a 20-foot jump shot than a lay-up. The averages are in your favor if you double from the wing and you keep your other players in decent rebounding position.  Effectiveness: 8 out of 10

Playing Straight Up
Playing the post straight up means you let your defense play behind the post player and play defense one-on-one when the opposing player catches the ball. The key for this option is pushing the post player away from the basket so he or she catches the ball further away from the block, which decreases his scoring potential.

The post player more than likely will give the ball up and try to re-position himself closer to the basket. Fortunately, if you can keep the post player off the block and force him to give the ball up then the shot clock becomes your friend. If the offense allows the post player time to re-position then chances are that the shot clock will be running down and the post player will have to make a quick decision on what to do with the ball. This can lead to forced shots or quick shots which can then lead to easy transition buckets for the offense. 

If you choose to play this way make sure you have strong post defenders since it’s too easy for smaller guys to get pushed around and allow good post position. In other words, having Shawn Marion guard Shaq in the post is usually not a good idea. Taking your chances with Ben Wallace one-on-one against Shaq could play out in your favor though.  Effectiveness:  Random – depends on your personnel

This is not the ultimate list on how to defend the post. It is just a highlight of how you can approach defending the paint.  Other than the zone, these options come out of a man-to-man defense, which is used most of the time in the NBA.

There is no perfect method to defending the post, which is why there's no method that gets a perfect 10 in effectiveness. I gave my preferred methods eight out of 10. Those are your best bets if you are struggling with owning the paint.

But, only through trying all of these methods will you find the one that works best for you. The good thing is that you can use all of them in one game, which actually provides the best way to defend the post.  

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