Post Defense: After entry pass
We already talked about how to defend the post before the post man has the ball. Now we are going to look at how to defend the post once the post man has the ball and is ready to go to work. We talked earlier in the post about DeMarcus Cousins (see here) about some of the post moves that an offensive player can have. Now we have to talk about some methods to defend formidable offensive post players.
Post defense starts with scouting and knowing the tendencies of the offensive player: What is their dominant hand? Are they good passers out of the post? What are their go to moves? Knowing some tendencies of a post player will give the defense the upper hand in stopping the offensive moves.
For purposes of this post, we are going to assume the ball has already been caught by the post player. A post for later can be about defending the post before the entry pass has been made but let’s omit that part of the defense for the purposes of this post.
Watch Paul Davis as he plays straight up defense with no help against Randolph Morris. There are a couple of key talking points I want to get to about this after you see the clip:
First off, see how far away Morris is away from the basket when he catches the ball. Davis forces him high in the lane with his lower body (notice how he does not extend the arms to draw a foul call) which makes it harder to score. He then plants his feet and holds his ground as Morris begins to back him down.
Morris takes one dribble and puts up a shot but Davis is right there with hands up to challenge it. He has kept good position by establishing a wide base and is right in Morris’ face when he attempts a shot.
Although he gives up the offensive rebound, he recovers nicely and challenges the follow-up shot as well to force a miss. Although he did not secure the rebound on the initial shot, he played nice defense against an above average post player at the time.
A double team is a strategy you will see many teams employ to defend the post. Many post players have not developed the necessary vision to pass out of the post when doubled and this will lead to a forced shot or a turnover.
In these two clips, Vanderbilt showed some good techniques for doubling on a post player. First, you want to bring the double team quickly, before the offensive player can assess the situation, read the defense and begin making a move.
Then, crowd the offensive player and pressure him with your hands. This cuts off his vision and will often set him into a panic. On these two players, Vandy set the same player to double Roy Hibbert, although he caught the ball in different places. By bringing the double from different places, it can be an even stronger tactic as the offensive player does not see the double team coming.
Although Hibbert did not turn the ball over here in these clips, he nearly traveled in the second clip and was forced in both clips to give the ball up to a guard in a non-threatening position. Overall, nice D by Vanderbilt in these clips against a tough matchup for them in Hibbert.
This is not a straight up double team but it does involve bringing a second defender into the play. Usually this involves the guard closest to the post player dropping down to ‘dig’ at the ball in hopes of jarring the ball loose.
Since the guard is often not strong or tall enough to pose a formidable threat to the post player he will have to try to be a pest by digging at the ball and hoping for a steal. Patrick Sparks times it nicely in the above clip and earns the steal.
In the final clip, we see Isaiah Thomas defending the post against a much taller player (although that could be said for nearly everyone he defends). Thomas knows he is no match for Casey Mitchell if Mitchell catches the ball. Therefore, Thomas breaks the contact from Mitchell and slides around him to deflect the entry pass.
Thomas was at a disadvantage in terms of size but used his quickness to break contact and slide around for the steal. He recognized that playing straight up D would be a mistake so he had to take a chance and go for the steal. He played it correctly and it paid off for a steal.
Those are four ways you can defend the post: One on one straight up, double team, dig the post or break contact and intercept the entry pass. It’s about knowing your opponent’s tendencies, having a gameplan and reading the situation.