23 Zone - Wing Players

Updated: May 30

The Wing Players are a critical part of a successful 23 Zone. In this post, we are going to take a look at their Responsibilities and Steal Opportunities in the zone.

Your Wing Players are arguably the most important people in your 23 Zone. They need to be quick enough to deter catch & shoot opportunities on the wings and tough enough to rebound the basketball in traffic. Putting the wrong players in these positions can be an easy way to give up easy three-point shots or get massacred on the offensive glass. If possible we want to get our two best athletes in these positions to help with coverage, rebounding, and capitalize on their chances to create turnovers.

The skill that is most useful for the Wing Players is their use of anticipation. Players who have a good sense of where the basketball is going with be better in both their coverage responsibilities and steal opportunities. As we will explore later in the post the responsibilities for Wing Players are fairly simple, but they do depend on timing and anticipation to execute. These players are crucial in taking away the wing three point shots and swing passes that zone offenses depend on.

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Responsibilities of the Wing Players -

The responsibilities for the Wing Players are fairly simple but are absolutely critical for the defense to succeed. Two of the weaknesses of the 23 Zone is the susceptibility to wing three point shots and the difficulty in preventing the offense from swinging the basketball. Our Wing Defenders are going to be the key people if we are going to mitigate those weaknesses.

Three Main Responsibilities -

  1. Wing Bump - Anticipate and Help Cover Every Wing Touch

  2. Preventing Corner Swings - Get Wide, Get Long & Make it Difficult

  3. Backside Coverage - Anticipate Skip or High/Low Passes

Wing Responsibilities -

Wing Bumps:

The Wing Bump is the most important responsibility for the Wing Players.

As the basketball is being swung to the wing the Wing Player should be arriving at the same time. It is up to him to make sure that easy three point shots are taken away.

  • Get Wide

  • Hands Active

  • Be there on the Catch

No Corner Swings:

This applies to the Wing Bump or any Dribble Entries on your side.

You need to be wide enough to make sure that quick swing passes can not be easily made. If you can not prevent the swing pass you need to at least make it as difficult as possible. Keep in mind that nothing beats Zone Defense as easy as quick swings around the perimeter.

Backside Coverage:

If you are on the backside of the zone your job is fairly simple. You should be positioning yourself on the lane line and talking through any cutters that are traveling towards the ball side.

  • Bump any Cutters Traveling Through the Lane

  • Anticipate the Skip Pass

Skip Pass Steals -

One of the best steal opportunities for the Wing Players is jumping a skip pass. As we discussed above, when the ball is on the opposite side of the floor we should position ourselves on the lane line and have one eye on the baseline and one eye on the skip pass. The defense is essentially putting four players on the ball side, baiting the offense to utilize the skip pass to the backside. With some anticipation this is the pass good Wing Players are looking for steal for a break away lay up.