Sometimes the fastest path is not a straight line. Base runners in baseball have understood this for decades. The quickest and most efficient way to reach a third point is through a curved path.
The technique of "rounding first" in baseball allows base runners to maintain their speed and momentum toward second base while also shortening the distance to reach it directly, as opposed to attempting a sharp turn and veering off the path.
So how does this concept relate to basketball? It's a concept I've been contemplating for a few years now. The optimal path around an off-ball screen may not involve getting close and brushing against the screens. Instead, the best approach might be a wider path that avoids any contact with the screen, creating a direct line to move back in front.
n fact, Dwayne Wade recently taught his son this exact concept. If you can disrupt the screen and utilize your physicality, then, of course, you should do that. However, if you are in a help position or guarding off the ball, you are in catch-up mode. Wade instructed his son, Zaire, to position himself on the outside shoulder of the offensive player.
This technique has been commonly used in the professional ranks for quite some time. It allows defenders to chase shooters around various screens, prevent themselves from getting caught on screens, and force the offensive players to curl away from the three-point line.
Tony Allen was particularly skilled at this technique, with his recovery on the perimeter often putting him in a position to steal a pass or tip the ball away on the first dribble.
I understand that the main concern with this technique is the threat of the offensive player curling. Naturally, in the NBA, three-pointers are highly valued, and forcing shooters to cut to the basket can sometimes be considered a win. However, at the high school and youth levels, this is not typically the case. Many times, defenders can get away with going under screens or being slightly late. But when a defender needs to chase a great shooter, this technique will get the job done
How many more times do we need to witness defenders getting caught on screens or tightly chasing their opponents, only to be nowhere near them when trying to get back in front? Round first base, and the results might surprise you.