“Ghost”

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Term: Ghost

Definition: a fake ballscreen after which the would-be screener sprints away into space; a pick-and-pop, but without the pick

Synonyms: N/A

See Also: Veer, Slip (a ghost, except the would-be screener cuts to the basket, not away from it), Rub

Origin of the Name: N/A

How It Works: In the diagram above, 4 sprints toward 1’s defender, as if to set a ballscreen. But then 4 cuts to the weakside wing instead of setting a screen.

Contrast this pick-and-pop:

…with this ghost screen:

Why It Works: Ghost screens often cause a mistake from either the on-ball defender or the would-be screener’s defender—or, short of that, freeze the defense just enough to disrupt its ballscreen coverage and create an advantage. For example, if the screener’s defender prepares to hedge/show on the ballscreen, he’s left behind when the screener ghosts and cuts to the weakside wing.

In this example of Ram Ghost, De’Andre Hunter is guarded by Julius Randle. As Hunter fakes a ballscreen for Trae Young, Randle briefly pauses, looking to prevent Trae from scoring. By doing so, Randle leaves Hunter open for the catch-and-shoot 3:

Here, the Atlanta Hawks run the same play, but the ghost screener’s defender sticks to his man. Instead, the on-ball defender jumps slightly forward, as if to avoid the screen, and is caught flat-footed when Trae drives past him for a floater:

The Atlanta Hawks frequently use ghost screens out of Motion Strong, in which a guard receives a stagger screen and then ghosts a ballscreen. In this example, Trae’s defender, Derrick Rose, tilts himself to make it easier to go over the screen, but as a result, he’s out of position to stop Trae’s penetration:

But that play can also be used to get the ball to the ghost screener in space. In this example, Gallinari receives the pass after ghosting the screen and cutting to the weakside wing (toward the end of the clip, Tony Snell receives a decoy elevator screen, which is discussed in the post on “cyclone”):

In this example, J.J. Redick’s ghost screen causes two defenders to run into each other, leading to a DHO to Zion Williamson in the dunker spot:

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