What is a Snake Screen? (Learn John Wall’s Favorite Play)

Remember the Gortat Screen? Well, the snake screen is that, but more complex.

The snake screen is a more complex Gortat screen, which I talked about a few articles ago. You can click here to read it, which I highly recommend.

But if you’re too busy (or, let’s be real, too lazy), here’s a short recap of what it is:

The Gortat Screen is a type of pick-and-roll play where the screener will use a fake (or ghost) screen to throw the ball handler’s defender off, causing them to change stances. 

Then, the screener pretends to cut but actually runs into the drop defender or rim protector (usually their defender or the switcher), blocking them from challenging the ball-handler’s drive.

This was a play that Marcin Gortat and John Wall frequently ran when they played together with the Washington Wizards from 2013-18.

How to do the Snake Screen

Now, the snake screen is like the Gortat Screen but with a couple of additional steps.

So, you know how in the Gortat Screen, you don’t draw a pick for the ball-handler?

Well, in the snake screen, you do.

You have to run a pick-and-roll with the ball handler and then find the opposing team’s drop defender or rim protector (or, most likely, your defender or the switcher).

Then you have to cut towards him -like how you would with the Gortat Screen- subsequently blocking him from contesting your ball handler’s vicious attack on the rim.

Additionally, the ball handler has to “snake” away from their defender to get an open look as well.

Here’s a video of how it’s done:

Key Notes:

  • Pay attention to if your defender is on you hard or slacking/dropping
  • You will have to use your body or a hesi to make space for shots
  • Keep your defender on your hips (side) and don’t let them get in front of you

Also, here’s a real-world case study of the snake screen in use, courtesy of Chris Paul. He also shares some examples of the escape dribble (which you can learn more about here):

Final Thoughts

The snake screen is a good play for teams that have ball handlers who like to slash and that have big centers who like to be brick walls.

So, if you have these types of players on your team, learn this basketball play so that you can take advantage of opposing teams.