Denying the Wing 101

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MEMPHIS, TN - APRIL 23: Tony Allen #9 of the Memphis Grizzlies knocks the ball away from Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the NBA game against at FedExForum on April 23, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Off the ball wing denial is an essential part of team defense. It’s an aspect of the game that often gets overlooked, but it can mean a lot to a defense. Wing denial is often taught heavily at the high school and collegiate levels but not really seen in the NBA as much.

The purpose of denying the wing is to stop the offensive player from getting the ball while putting pressure on the ball handler looking to make a pass. It’s most effective when the ball handler picks up his dribble and has nowhere to go with the ball. I’ve always believed in wing denial, especially when it comes to guarding a player that can flat out score the ball. When you’re relentless with your denial and your opponent doesn’t get the touches they’re looking for, it causes frustration and can mentally take your opponent out of the game.
Here’s an old clip of Tayshaun Prince giving a breakdown on denying the wing.

Most coaches like to emphasize denying the ball when you’re one pass away, but it’s imperative not to be too aggressive because you can leave yourself open to be beaten backdoor. Remaining light on your feet and keeping your head on a swivel (seeing the ball) is the key to denying your opponent. Defense is all about hard work and talent, and if you’re willing to put in that effort on the defensive end, then you will be able to shut down your opponent.

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