What Is ISO in Basketball – Best Guide For Beginners

The isolation play is a staple of a lot of basketball offenses. But what is ISO in basketball, and how can it help you? In this article, I’m going to break down isolation plays and I’ll teach you how to control them so that you get more isolation plays in your offense!

ISO is an NBA basketball play or strategy used by teams. This basketball term refers to when a player is instructed to not pass a bill and instead try to score from one-on-one play using their own ballhandling skills. More specifically this game strategy could be called isolation offense because of the offensive movement involved by the player who catches the basketball.

The isolation is an offensive set of basketball whose purpose is to isolate a teammate from the defense and allow him to be a threat while he attacks the basket. It sounds like a good idea, but it is not as simple as it seems.

Iso Means Isolation

Iso means isolation, and is specifically a strategy used in basketball. When ISO is used, the idea is to get one player isolated from the rest of their team so they can go head-to-head with their defender and then use that advantage to score.

As an example: Let’s say you were using this strategy in a game of Ultimate Frisbee. While playing on the field, one team member would separate themselves from the other players and then try to take them out until they are alone or outnumbered and therefore easier to defeat.

This same principle can be applied across several sports including football and hockey because it allows you to focus on just one opponent rather than having everyone else interfering with your game play (which makes it harder).

Sometimes people use “iso” as shorthand for “isolation.” It’s common in NBA conversations about teams that have a single superstar who scores most of their points (e.g., James Harden for Houston Rockets), or players like Kevin Durant who often dominate possession during games because they’re so good at creating open shots while being defended by multiple defenders at once — usually called “iso” basketball when these situations arise too frequently.”

In Basketball, There Are Many Strategies

It’s a unique game, with dozens of strategies for teams to use on offense. Some of the most common include “Motion Offense,” in which players move constantly and pass around the ball, and “Pick & Roll,” which involves one player setting a pick to free up another (usually the point guard) for an open shot.

These can be used by either professional or amateur teams, but some strategies are more popular in certain arenas than others.

The NBA is unique because it has some of the best athletes on earth playing against each other, so they have developed their own strategies to take advantage of that skill level: Little did we know that iso would become one of these strategies.

In Order To Keep Defenses

Iso is a play where the player with the ball dribbles to one side of the court and all their teammates clear out onto the other side. Iso means that there are no other players on the same side of the court as them, so they have space to work.

The best time to use iso is when you have a very good ball handler who is having an excellent game. Because they will have more space, if they are confident in their ability, they can be more aggressive with their moves to get around their defender and drive to the hoop for a layup or even a dunk!

They will also have less defenders near them because most defenses will follow your team’s best player and try to stop them from scoring.

This means that they may also be able to make an easy pass across the court before driving in for a shot or even shoot themselves if it looks like an open shot. The key here is that you’re using your best player’s skill against your opponent!

Iso Was Originally Used in Man-To-Man Defense

What Is ISO in Basketball

Iso was originally used in man-to-man defense. The concept is that when Player A has the ball, you send Player B to guard him. But if Player A passes the ball to Player C, Player B doesn’t come with you to help. Instead, he stays with his original assignment—hence isolation, or “iso.”

As zone defenses became more common and effective, coaches needed a way to counter them: iso was the solution. Isolating a player against a zone defense is especially useful against 2-3 zones because they may not be expecting it and will have trouble adjusting their positioning at the last minute.

It’s also a good choice for 3-2 zones because of how wide those two low defenders are spaced out: iso can cut through that easily given enough time. And if the defense is playing 1-3-1 zone, having one player isolated can allow for easy movement around the perimeter without hesitation or cause for confusion on your team’s part.

Now It Is Only Used Against Zone Defense.

For example, if the ball handler is a point guard, he or she can drive toward the basket and get easier access to the hoop for a layup. If the ball handler is a shooting guard or small forward, they will usually have an open shot from mid-range.

Teams that utilize this strategy will want their best ball handlers in ISO situations since they want to use a player who has the best chance of beating their defender straight up and getting an easy bucket.

Iso’s effectiveness has increased over time. When it was first used against man-to-man defense, we saw more teams switch off screens into zone defense to defend against it. Since then (and nowadays), iso is primarily used against zone defenses because those are less effective at guarding one-on-one matchups.

Iso’s effectiveness also increases if you get even one screen on your defender before coming back out for an iso situation—it makes it much easier to get open when creating space between you and your defender by running around screens instead of trying to go past them straight up with little space.

Your scouting efforts should include identifying defenders who play lazy defense and don’t step out onto guards early enough to contest shots effectively; these are good candidates to run iso plays on in order to create open looks for yourself or teammates nearby when attacking off pick & rolls later in games.

One last thing about Iso: It is not effective if your team doesn’t have any shooters on it!

It’s Not An Easy Strategy

We’ve seen that running an isolation play generally means putting one player in a favorable 1-on-1 matchup in order to get relatively easy points. So what kind of player should you want on the receiving end of such a play?

They should be a good shooter, for starters! If your team’s best shooter can’t hit open jump shots or layups with regularity, the other team will have no reason to respect their shot and will happily allow them to keep taking the contested shots they’re missing.

Okay, so they need to be able to score. Great. But how are they going to get those scoring opportunities? This takes us into ball handling territory—they need to be able to create their own shot off the dribble, if necessary, whether it’s getting past their defender with some dazzling dribbling maneuvers or simply jab stepping and pulling up for a midrange jumper as soon as they cross halfcourt.

NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas would run plays designed specifically for him where he’d come off screens from teammates and take immediately take an open jump shot—his excellent shooting percentage made this strategy quite effective.

Of course, players who are especially good at creating their own shots may not always want to pass when the opportunity is there!

So, it helps if you pick someone who looks for open teammates when defenses collapse on them after penetrating into the paint or driving down one side of the court. Your ideal iso player needs to be unselfish enough that they’ll recognize when defenders are leaving opposing players open because they’re focused too much on guarding them.

Finally, since these plays are often called near the end of games with little time left on the clock (when it’s common practice among coaches not to call timeouts in order not catch their opponents by surprise), you’ll ideally want someone who isn’t afraid of being guarded by another team’s best defender—someone like Kawhi Leonard, who famously hit a game winner over Joel “The Process

Drills To Become Better at Iso Ball

Drills To Become Better at Iso Ball

Basketball Isolation Drills

Iso ball is a great way to practice your isolation offense and really develop your style of play. An important part of iso ball is handling the basketball, as you will be required to dribble the ball without any help from teammates. Since dribbling is so important in isolation offense, it is recommended that you focus on this skill if you plan to play iso ball.

In addition to dribbling skills, shooting ability is also very important in iso ball. You can practice shooting by running drills such as free throws and spot-up shooting drills. Drills are great because they allow players to improve their offensive skills while having fun playing basketball!

Iso-Ball Is All About The Dribbling.

Iso-ball is a game that focuses on dribbling. The majority of the time you will have the ball in your hand and be maneuvering around the court with it. This means that if you want to improve your scoring, then you need to improve your dribbling!

The best way to improve your dribbling is by practicing dribbling in different ways, including:

  • Dribbling with one hand above your head
  • Dribbling between legs
  • Dribbling as fast as you can
  • Dribbling as slow as you can without dropping the ball

you need to get comfortable.

The first thing you need to do is get a ball that will fit in your hands. You want something that’s comfortable, so you can grasp the ball tightly, but not too tightly. If the ball is too big for your hands, it’ll be harder to move it around, and speed will decrease.

One great way to practice dribbling without looking at the ball is by moving around without a basketball in your hands at all. To do this drill accurately, pretend like there’s a basketball in between your forearms as you dribble. By pretending there is a ball and practicing dribbling with just your forearms, you can improve your hand-eye coordination and prepare for when you eventually add the actual basketball into the mix.

Another way to practice dribbling without looking at the ball is by keeping it on your hip while moving around with the basketball until everything becomes second nature.

This drill helps simulate real game situations where opponents are trying their best to steal or block shots while also getting familiar with how much pressure should be applied when dribbling with only one hand

Weave into isolation

During this drill, you’ll start with a basketball at half court and weave down to the basket. As you dribble, keep your head up and look for an open player to pass to.

If you don’t see an opportunity to pass immediately, raise your hand and signal for a screen from the offense to get past defenders as you weave through cones.

Practicing this move will help you learn how to deliver passes quickly in this situation so that even if it seems like there’s no chance of getting the ball across court immediately, you’ll be able to do so by looking for and utilizing screens effectively.

The second part of this drill involves dribbling without looking up or raising your hand. Instead, keep your head down and practice weaving in between cones while looking for double teams coming towards you on both sides.

When (not if) they come, make sure that using both hands help keep control of the ball as it bounces around between bodies while trying not to be blocked by any defenders who try to reach out with their hands over yours.

Shoot a free throw

So, let’s say you’re a beginner. All the other kids on the playground are throwing balls around with ease. You want to play basketball, but you’ve never even picked up a ball before in your life.

Sure, you’ll probably never be as good as Michael Jordan or Dwyane Wade (or even your own little brother), but that doesn’t mean you can’t get better at basketball.

The first step to becoming better at basketball is to pick up that damn ball and start shooting it! How can I be so sure? Well, one way is by taking a look at how good guys like Michael Jordan and Dwyane Wade do it every day—who do they shoot? What drills do they use? Are there any drills that seem more difficult than others? How do they execute shots of all types—free throws, jump shots and layups?

I’d like to share one drill I would recommend when you’re beginning to develop your free throw skills: iso ball.

What is the iso ball drill? It’s simply a shot taken in isolation where the player takes his time between steps, bends his knees and follows through smoothly.

The player must focus on his shot while not looking at his feet or the basket—he must let go of everything else going on around him and think only “shoot”.

It seems simple enough right now but if you’re not actually doing this right now then most people are far worse than Michael Jordan because he does this drill thousands of times per day.

Get your mind right because you’ll need to focus

Before you begin any drills, it is important that you prepare your mind and body by exercising mental focus.

Clear your mind of distractions and negative thoughts and only concentrate on what lies ahead of you. Visualize each move you will make slowly, being careful not to rush through the process.

The best ball handlers in the world have one thing in common: they are able to read their defenders and react accordingly. This means that every dribble should be carefully thought out as an opportunity for a split-second advantage over your opponent.

Play one-on-one.

To be great at Iso Ball, one must practice it. While the constant threat of backcourt penetration can scare beginners away from iso-ball, it’s an easy and effective way to improve your offense or defense.

It’s a perfect practice tool—perhaps too simple for professional athletes but good enough for most high-level college players. The following techniques will help you handle this threat (and also keep paint in bounds).

  • Practice hard, every time you step on the floor.
  • You are not going to get better if you are not pushing yourself during practice..
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, that is the best way to learn. If you are not making mistakes, then you aren’t trying hard enough.
  • Take risks, don’t be afraid to fail.

best way to become good at isolation

Once upon a time, I was told that you should never play tennis with a tennis coach. Don’t trust them, they’re just for show and people who can’t play tennis themselves don’t know anything about the sport.

It’s better to be self-sufficient in your understanding of how to play tennis. That’s what I believed until I tried it out myself, when I noticed that the ball actually felt like it was coming off the string or hitting me back even when I didn’t expect it to do so at all.

I remember thinking that there must be something wrong with me because no one else saw that happen to them when they played tennis with their coach.

So after some research, this is what I came up with:

You shouldn’t believe everything you’re told before playing a sport. For example:

  • The person who tells you to use your dominant hand may not know what they are talking about; if you have any kind of physical limitation that makes it more comfortable for your other hand then by all means use it (for example if your left hand is more natural for serving balls).
  • The person who tells you to practice serves forward may not know whether or not this strategy will work against an opponent; If someone taller than you is serving and throws an overhead smash as soon as he hits the ball towards the net then he isn’t going to change his strategy no matter if you serve from behind his or from in front of his, so just practice differently and try different strategies on top of that! You’ll figure out what works best eventually!

Best Iso Players in the NBA Today

James Harden

James Harden

James Harden, the most important player in the playoffs, is still making his presence felt. One of the best shooting guards in the league during the regular season and one of its top scorers in elimination games, Harden led Houston to a thrilling win over Portland with a career-high 52 points.

The game was tied at 114 entering overtime, but by that point Harden had already made 10 of 15 shots from 3-point range. He went 6 for 6 from behind the line, including seven straight 3-pointers to start overtime and then hit another three with less than two minutes left to give him an insurmountable lead.

The Rockets will face Golden State in Game 1 of their series on Sunday after having their season end abruptly last week when they were eliminated by Minnesota without getting a chance to play their first home game against Oklahoma City since 2011.

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi’s resume reads like a greatest hits album. When people talk about the most dominant iso player in the game today, they are talking about Kawhi.

The two-time Finals MVP and two-time NBA Champion never ceases to amaze with his ability to score on one leg or, as he did in Game 7 of last year’s Western Conference Finals, both legs.

While he can get a little too carried away with his patented laugh at times, you’d be hard pressed to find a more well-rounded player than Kawhi Leonard.

LeBron James

LeBron James

LeBron James is arguably the best Iso player in the league, and has been for over a decade. LeBron has all the traits you look for in an isolation player:

  • He can execute well in transition, which means his defenders have to pay attention to him at all times.
  • His ability to finish around the rim gives him endless options.
  • His ball-handling skills allow him to create separation from his defender, giving himself room to score or pass.
  • When he does isolate on a play, he’s very proficient as a distributor and can kick it out if nothing is there.
  • Starting last year, LeBron added a 3-point shot into his arsenal and now shoots close to 40% from beyond the arc. That makes it almost impossible for defenses because they have no choice but to respect that shot.
  • If he does miss a shot, he often rebounds it himself with ease and then goes back up for another chance at scoring (or passing).
  • He plays great defense too! This makes him even more valuable since teams have one less transition opportunity when playing against him.

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving

When it comes to Kyrie Irving, defenses must be aware at all times. The Nets’ All-Star guard can beat them in a multitude of ways, but he’s most dangerous when defenders give him space.

A great shooter, passer and dribbler, Irving is the type of player who can create his own shot and find teammates off the dribble with ease.

While his offensive game is still a work in progress—sometimes he overdoes it as a scorer—he’s one of the most complete offensive players in the league when he’s on his game.

He isn’t just an offensive threat either; Irving is also a solid defender and rebounder. And while there were questions about his leadership abilities when he was younger, now he seems to have matured into someone you want leading your team.

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

In total, the NBA has 330 players with at least one game played this season. I would argue that Westbrook is better than 85% of those guys, which puts him in tier 2 of the best players in the NBA. According to Steve Ashburner, that makes him the third-best player in the NBA.

Westbrook is a very aggressive player on both ends of the floor. He’s always looking for his shot and his teammates’ shots… unless he’s craving a triple-double in which case he will pass up shots to grab rebounds and assists.

On defense, he either steals or fouls you (a lot), but nothing less than your possession is good enough for Russ.

His defense can be frustrating because he gambles too much AND gets away with it more often than should be legal (maybe it should be), but he also uses that aggression well by making plays on defense—whether they are deflections or steals or blocks.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

When you think about isolating a single player on an island, the first thing that comes to mind is one man taking on a slew of defenders, with the hopes of getting his team an easy basket or drawing a foul.

When you think about Kevin Durant, you might be reminded of this exact scenario. The scoring champion for four years isn’t nicknamed Slim Reaper for nothing—he’s deadly from all over the court.

Regardless of who he goes up against, KD will find a way to score efficiently and make it look easy. If you’re looking at players in today’s NBA who can take one man defense and make it look like they’re going up against five, Durant is your guy.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Q1. What Is ISO?

So, what exactly is ISO?

ISO refers to a play in which a single player is isolated on the court. The player who is isolated can be said to be running an ISO action. This means that they are left alone by their teammates, and must make a play for themselves. Isolation plays are used for various reasons; one of the most common uses is to create space for a shot or pass.

Sometimes this happens due to defensive pressure from your opponent (you can “create” space by making them guard you), or sometimes it happens because teammates have spaced themselves out around you off-ball (they’re not guarding anyone). In either case, isolation allows you as an individual player more freedom on offense than having multiple people around you at once would allow – so long as those other players aren’t ready for your next move!

Q2. What Does ISO Mean in Basketball?

ISO is a common basketball term that refers to when a player has possession of the ball and goes one-on-one with their defender. It stands for isolation play, which means that the player with the ball tries to get to the basket and score by themselves.

The other players on the court are only there to pass the ball to this player, so it’s often left up to them whether or not they want someone else on their team involved in this play. You’ll find that some teams use this type of play more than others, depending on what kind of roster they have or what strategies they’re going after during games.

Q3. Who Uses ISO in Basketball?

You may be wondering, “Who uses ISO in basketball?” Well, the answer is simple: just about everyone. The purpose of ISO in basketball is to create space between you and your defender so that you can get a clean shot off on offense or make a pass to an open teammate when on defense.

However, there are some players who do not use ISO as much as others; for example, players who play more of an inside game don’t need as much space because they already have more room to operate with their size advantage over smaller defenders.


ISO is one of the basketball metrics that many fantasy basketball players use to evaluate a player’s performance. It summarizes a player’s scoring efficiency, or ability to score points per possession, taking into account field goal percentage and free throw ability, or shooting fouls drew. In other words, it can be viewed as a measure of a player’s productivity considering the opportunities they have while on the court.

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