I was surfing Youtube today for basketball videos and came across a Michael Jordan buzzer beater video that reminded me a fundamental basketball move that is not understood well enough.
As the ball-handler, when a double team or trap comes, the most effective escape is to attack the person coming at you to double. In other words, attack the trap.
This is not a common sense move, which is why it is something that must be taught or experienced to learn. Most people will dribble away from a double team. Even worse, they will pick up the ball before they know where they are passing it.
Dribbling away from a double team allows both defenders to close in on you slowly and effectively. It is like the physics behind getting hit by a car while riding a bike. It’s better to get hit by a car traveling 20mph in your direction while you are riding 8mph in your direction for a net impact of only 12mph. The blow is softened. Going against each other, you have a net impact of 28mph. That’s an ugly crash.
Use that principle in your favor when a help defender is coming at you. Go back at him. Only don’t go through him like a car crash, go around him. Your current defender is probably guarding you and moving at your pace already, but the help defender is running towards you. It will be difficult for the help defender running towards you to stop himself and react to your move.
In the highlights below, Jordan takes it a step further by taking it around the outside of the help defender. Many coaches will encourage players to try to split double teams. This is a valid argument if you have not used your dribble yet. However, I think Jordan does it correctly here by going around. Especially because the help defenders in this case are big men. The big men end up getting beat on the outside and then effectively screen the guard who was guarding Jordan.
As a defender, there is nothing worse than guarding a player straight up and then getting screened by your own guy that came to help double team. As an offensive player, you should try to create those opportunities by attacking the help defense to their outside.
Watch highlights number 8 and 6 specifically below to see how Jordan uses the helping big man help as a screen to free up his game winning shots.