“Short Roll”

Term: Short Roll

Definition: A pick-and-roll in which the roller stops short (often near the free-throw line), receives a pass from the ballhandler, and makes plays for his teammates from there.

See Also: Short Action (a similarly named but different action; in Short Action, a third teammate cuts to the strongside of the pick-and-roll and acts as a middleman between the ballhandler and the roller; in Short Roll, the roller is often the middleman between the ballhandler and the shooter on that play)

How It Works: In the diagram above, 5 sets a ballscreen for 1, who finds 5 near the FT line on the Short Roll. The tagger, x3, has come into the lane to stop 5, so 5 finds 3 for a corner 3-pointer.

Why It Works: The Short Roll is typically used to punish teams that blitz (or hard hedge) ballscreens. If the roller rolled all the way to the hoop, the tagger could frequently intercept the pass from the ballhandler or take a charge. Instead, the roller stops short and exploits the 4-on-3 advantage created by the defense’s trap.

In this example from USC, Evan Mobley short rolls. Mobley’s defender is blitzing or hard hedging, the big defending the weakside block rotates over to Mobley, and the guard defending the weakside corner helps the helper by guarding the big underneath the hoop. Mobley looks in the far corner for his open teammate, who hits the 3:

Or the short roller can make a play for himself, such as this example from Mobley, who fakes a pass to the corner before finishing:

Most teams aren’t fortunate enough to have an Evan Mobley, however, and defenses are often willing to concede a 4-on-3 advantage—as long as the ball is in the hands of the opponent’s center, not their primary ballhandler. In this next example, the Atlanta Hawks go to Clint Capela in the short roll, but the tagger, New York’s Immanuel Quickley, also stops short, conceding the 17-footer that he knows Capela won’t take, leading to a turnover:

From the Short Roll, Capela has two options: Kevin Huerter on the wing and Lou Williams in the corner. His read is Alec Burks (pink). A more skilled short roller might have forced Burks to commit to Huerter with a pass fake before hitting Lou Will for the corner 3. Instead, Capela passes to Huerter. Burks is close enough to recover and prevent a shot, and then Huerter throws a bad pass out of bounds:

Unsurprisingly, Atlanta prefers to use John Collins as the short roller, ideally to throw lobs to Capela waiting in the weakside dunker spot, such as this example of Angle PnR Exit:

But no discussion of the Short Roll is complete without mentioning Draymond Green, whose Short Roll playmaking has been punishing defenses for trapping Steph Curry for years:

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