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The Explain One Play Glossary

A simple glossary of basketball terms

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Explain One Play Glossary

Basic Terms

  • pick (or screen): To stand in the way of a defender.
  • pop: After setting a pick, run to open space, ready to catch a pass to shoot.
  • roll: After setting a pick, run towards the basket
  • slip (the screen): Begin to set a pick, but roll or pop early
  • drive: move towards the basket with the ball
  • cut: move without the ball
  • dive: cut to the basket
  • kick out: pass to the perimeter from the paint.

Kinds of Screens

  • back: screen for a player to cut to the basket
  • down: screen for a player cutting away from the baseline
  • flare: screen for a player to pop out for a jumper.
  • ram (pre-screen): screen for a player who then sets a screen.
  • dribble-pitch: dribble towards a player and hand the ball off while setting a screen for them.
  • drag: a high screen set early in offense as the screener arrives

Defense

  • switch: When a defender is screened, they switch assignments to the screener, and the screener’s defender guards their previous assignment.
  • trap/blitz/double: Two players closely guard one.
  • goalie/shadow/overload: A secondary defender is positioned to backup a player’s primary defender.
  • show, hedge: a screener’s defender jumps out to slow the ballhandler, then recovers to their assignment
  • go over a screen: go around the screen on the side farther from the basket (so the ball is open to drive rather than shoot)
  • go under a screen: go around the screen on the side closer to the basket (so the ball is open to shoot rather than drive)
  • close out: get close to a shooter to intimidate the shot.

Locations

  • high/low: Closer to the baseline is “low”, farther from the basket is “high”
  • weak/strong side: The side of the court with the ball is the strong side, the other side is the weak side.
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If you want to read more video breakdowns — one for well-nigh every Warriors’ win since 2015 — check out the Explain One Play Mega-Index, searchable and sortable by player, play, team and date.