What Is Iso Basketball? Easy Basketball Guide For Beginners

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If you are a basketball lover, you may have heard of iso basketball. But have you ever heard of “What is iso in basketball?” It is a unique style of play that requires high skill from the attacker. Plus, it makes them stand out more in a game. Scott Fujita hopes to help you learn more about this tactic via this article.

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What Does Iso Mean In Basketball?

The term Iso in basketball also means isolation plays. It is when the player will play against another player on the opposing team to try to score. 

Usually, the ball handler will be the team’s superstar player, and they will take advantage of the hole in the opponent’s defense. Iso plays are a famous play in the NBA season to this day. There are many distinct strategies for iso in basketball.

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Iso is the game between offender and defender

When the iso play takes place, there will be no one to help the two teams. Even offensive players with the ball in hand or defensive players of the next team, that’s when they enter “isolation play.” This tactic makes it easier for them to focus on each other’s strategies and movements.

This play often occurs when offensive players are in good form or have the hot hand. They want to show their strength and will signal to be able to focus on a one-on-one match.

Another case is when the opposing team’s defense makes a mistake or falls short of form. The best player can take the offense and attack to score points.

It sounds straightforward, but many factors determine a successful iso in the basketball phase. We’ll cover those factors in the next section. You can watch this video to learn more about isolation gameplay.

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How To Set Up Isolation Plays?

To create a situation with an iso ball, we need to consider a lot of factors. The players need to practice the iso plays to get used to before entering the official match. 

There are a few factors that coaches and offensive players need to pay attention to ensure the success of isolation plays.

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There are some notes to take before setting up iso plays

1. Choose the right offensive player

Basketball is a team sport. So no matter how we arrange the iso in basketball, the whole team’s actions will affect the outcome of the game. 

The team coach should consider choosing the right player to get the ball. That player should be someone the opposing team cannot ignore. 

If you cover an isolated ball-handler with shooters, the opponent will have difficulty  matching both objects. The reason is that they won’t want the opponent to score quickly in a game.

Players like James Harden or LeBron James are wise choices for iso plays. They have shown their top form and outstanding individual skills in situations like these.

2. Check the mismatch spots

The player in charge of the offense should identify positions that are likely to assist them in the process of receiving the iso ball. Some advice is to balance the court to create space for the player to take the ball handling.

However, Scott Fujita’s opinion is that the ball handler should stand in their usual scoring position. It will help your defender understand the situation faster.

3. Consider the ball positions

The location of the basketball is also an aspect worth noting. Players need to double-check where they shine the most and make sure their teammates know that.

If you can make open throws easily from the center or the rim, that would be a good starting point. And if deploying from the wing helps one player be in better shape, iso plays should start here.

4. Develop team signals

Teammates should develop some kind of signal to announce the start of iso plays. The use of language is also acceptable, but I don’t think you want your opponent to detect your intentions.

An example is when a player is in good form and feels confident, they can signal to initiate isolation play. It’s time we should pass that player the ball and let them take the last shot.

5. Get the suitable defensive player

Of course, a one-on-one match will have an opponent. To ensure victory in an iso play, the scorer needs to know when to step up or step back. In addition, they must know how to choose the right defender from the opponent.

Often there must be a difference in strength between the two forces in an isolation play. Players must have excellent situational judgment to be able to meet the weaker defender.

Some of the mismatches that you can take advantage of from the defender are:

  • Height difference.
  • Size difference.
  • Quickness and speed.
  • The number of player fouls.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Iso Play

1. Pros

There are reasons why some football teams love isolation. The advantages that iso plays can offer in a basketball game include:

  • In isolation play, the player has complete control over the ball. It also allows the weaker players to go to the rim to get a higher score.
  • When receiving the iso ball, the offensive player will have more space to operate.
  • One player on offense can cause the opponent’s defender to fail. The reason is that these one-on-one matches are easy to cause collisions. Ball handlers will try to score quickly, and with defenders trying to defend, they will be prone to errors.

2. Cons

However, isolation play is not an absolute champion. Placing a player in isolation means you take the following risks:

  • If you rely too much on a player, the opponent will guard him more closely. It will make it difficult for him to make shots. In the long run, it will drain the life force and make the player exhausted.
  • When a player receives too much ball possession, it will create envy among the team. If you give a player the opportunity to shine too much, the other players will not have the opportunity to score for themselves.

Greatest Iso Ball Basketball Players Of All Time

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James Harden plays the best iso in basketball

1. James Harden

With 321 points, James leads the list of the greatest iso players today. He has an outstanding offensive ability that can beat any NBA team’s defense. It is because of that ability that the coach encourages him to play this game.

2. LeBron James

The King also showed his strength with 111 points. He can also dribble the ball brilliantly. LeBron is an opponent that no one wants to confront directly.

3. Damian Lillard

With 110 points, Damian Lillard places himself in third place. He is currently a potential point guard on the Portland Trail Blazers.

4. Russell Westbrook

Russell is fully capable of making the top 5 of this list. His speed, determination and strength make for a skillset suitable for iso plays. With 99 points, he performed strongly in the mid-range.

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek boy has shown himself as a new element of the NBA league. He won the NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2022. His ball handling skills are truly outstanding.

Final Thoughts

Iso in basketball is a strategy that can create turning points in NBA games. It can help the team breakthrough and put their mark on the game. 

If the team members implement the isolation strategy properly, it is invincible. However, consider the dark side of this gameplay. Combining both playstyles and understanding the internal situation of the team is the key to a top game.

Thank you for reading!

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