pick and roll

or pick-and-roll

[pik-uh n-rohl]

What does pick and roll mean?

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A pick and roll is an offensive play in basketball where a teammate screens off a defender and then breaks free so the ball-carrier can pass it to them.

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Examples of pick and roll

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Examples of pick and roll
The N.B.A. has largely turned away from relying on power players in favor of up-tempo offense. The pick-and-roll allows that, while creating offensive opportunities early in the 24-second shot clock.
Jonathan Abrams, The New York Times, November 2009
DeMar DeRozan could help the Spurs immensely in the pick and roll this season
@poundingtherock, August 2018
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Where does pick and roll come from?

Court Side

The exact inventor of the pick and roll is unknown but it most likely emerged in the 1920s in the eastern United States.

The men most often credited for the pick and roll are Nat Holman and Barney Sedran, two of the most influential players in basketball history, who both started their careers in the mid-1910s.

In his 1922 book Scientific Basketball, Holman describes a play that he and Sedran would run, which he dubbed “Execution Play No. 8.” This play is almost identical to the modern pick and roll.

The term itself is recorded by 1960. The name comes from the two simple maneuvers that make it up. First, a teammate screens off a defending player, i.e., stands in front of him, which is called a pick in basketball slang. Second, the screening teammate then spins (rolls) around the defender for the ball-carrier to pass it to them.

Since its creation, the pick and roll has been a mainstay for some of the greatest basketball players in history. A young Larry Bird (played 1979-1992) demonstrates the play in the clip below:

“The Mailman” Karl Malone and John Stockton were legendary for their mastery of the pick and roll in the late 1980s into the 1990s. In the 2000s, Steve Nash was also a genius of the play. Come the 2010s, Stephen “Steph” Curry took up that old faithful, the pick and roll.

Who uses pick and roll?

Among players, coaches, and basketball lovers at all levels, the pick and roll is a familiar phrase. It’s often discussed as running a pick and roll. The play is famous for both its simplicity and effectiveness in creating shots.

Pick and roll even makes appearances in hip-hop lyrics, sometimes as a metaphor for outfoxing someone. Rick Ross memorably featured pick and roll in his 2012 track “Sixteen”: “Better put away a penny for the rainy days / Pick and roll, give and go, fuck a fade away / Living like Scottie Pippen, dribble riddles for vittles.”

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