2-3 Zone

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Defense Name 2-3 Half Court Zone
Defense Nickname 2-3
Type of defense Zone Defense
Most appropriate age range is All
Best used against Poor Shooting Teams, Post Oriented Teams

Intro

The 2-3 Zone is arguably the most popular Zone Defense around. It's easy rotations and straight forward set up allow it to be taught at all levels of play.

Assignments and Responsibilities

Perimeter Defenders

In this case D1 and D2 - they are each responsible for half the court above the foul line. As with any zone communication is essential when guarding the ball on the perimeter. If an offensive player attacks from one side of the zone to the other it's important for the defender who's now responsible for the ball handler to make a call such as "Mine". This process is often called passing it off or bumping off defensive responsibility. This communication also applies when passing off a player from above the foul line to below the foul line to the corner defender.

The Weak Side defender should be in Deny Position if they have a man in their responsibility area who is one pass away. If two passes away they should play based on their opponent.

A good shooting team or player may mean:

  • It's best to not leave the deny position on the weak side shooter.
  • To be in "Half Help" - or a position to quickly close out (halfway between the basket line and the offensive player).

Against a team you are not concerned with moving the ball well or shooting the perimeter shot the weak side perimeter defender should be on the basket line right around the foul line area to help prevent penetration into the paint.

2-3 Responsibilities.jpg

Baseline Wing Defenders

D3 and D4 on the baseline wing defensive positions will be responsible for guarding the ball from below the free throw line extended and outside of the paint on their side of the basket line. Their main responsibilities are:

  • Defending any player who is passed off by a top side defender on the perimeter OR any pass that is made on the perimeter below the foul line extended.
23 Ball to Corner Seq1.jpg
  • Denying post entry from the wing if a top side defender is on the ball. In the example below, the Baseline Wing defender denies the entry to post but the weak side post man flashes to the high post. In this case, it's the responsibility to communicate that a cutter is behind O1. If O1 is preoccupied with another assignment or isn't in place to deny the high post the baseline defender will need to close out. The weak side wing will need to rotate to help with any lob over the top into the post on the strong side.
23 Post Denial Seq1.jpg
  • Rotating to a baseline help position if the paint defender is forced to defend the strong side block or a flash into the paint. The player should be aware of any shooters on the weak side that he may need to close out on. Seeing both the ball and your man as always is important.

If the ball is with O3, it would be important for D3 to recognize that if the paint defender has to step up to guard a flash into the high paint area that D3 becomes the underneath help defender. If O3 looks to make a pass over the top to O5, D3 will need to be close enough where they can disrupt the pass but still be aware of the need to close out to a skip pass to the weak side corner.

Middle Flash Seq1.jpg

Paint Defender

  • The most important responsibility for the Paint Defender is to protect the basket. This player should usually have the most size/height/shot blocking ability to deter the offense from driving into the lane.
  • Deny post entry to the block from the wing.
  • Close out on passes made to offensive players that catch the ball behind the perimeter players particularly at the elbow.
  • Step up to dribble penetration made that gets through the defensive perimeter.
  • Be a communicator - the center position has a view of the entire court from near the basket. The Paint Defender should be aware of players trying to get underneath and behind the zone.

Rebounding in a 2-3 Zone

One of the most significant challenges in a zone that crowds the interior is match ups when it comes time to box out on a shot attempt. In a man to man look, defenders will have an eye on both ball and man which allows them to see a shot attempt and then initiate contact with their assignment on their way to the rebound. The most significant issues to address are these:

  • Multiple offensive players inside the designated zone area of one player.
  • Many zone offenses vs an even front will include players in the short corner or baseline. The majority of shot attempts on one side of the court will be rebounded on the opposite side.
  • The initial reaction of weak side defenders is to read the basketball coming off the rim. The problem here lies with the offensive players who will often have more momentum generated to attack the rebound as they are not stationary. The offense will be "crashing" which will always give them the advantage versus the stationary rebounder.

Variations and Hybrids