It is not necessary to have 3-point shooters in order to beat zones.
It certainly makes it easier! But if that’s the answer, then most teams are in trouble.
You do have to have some players that can make a shot outside of the lane, however. If you have to depend on lay-ups only, then a zone will win. You must occasionally make a shot outside the lane in order to stretch the zone and get the ball inside. Every good zone offense will have a little bit of both – a threat from the outside and a threat from the inside.
But “outside” does not necessarily mean 3 pointers. If you can only shoot lay-ups, then you’re going to lose no matter what offense you run. There’s no magic pill for the inability to make a shot. And there’s no zone offense that creates only inside shots. If it existed, then everyone would run it and no one would play zones.
Zones must be attacked with a variety of weapons:
- You must dribble penetrate and occupy two or three defenders, then get the ball to the open player to score.
- You must move the ball and move players until someone in the zone misses an assignment and allows your players to take advantage.
- You must sometimes screen the zone to create these missed slides and assignments.
- You should attack the zone from behind (on the baseline or short corners).
If the zone packs their coverage inside, then what are they giving up?
They’re giving up the ability to pressure you on the perimeter. They’ve allowed you to move the ball quickly from one side of the floor to the other.
Therefore, you should do this as much as you can in one possession to make the defense change positions from ball side to weak side as many times as possible. No single action that I’ve mentioned above will do it by itself; you should do all of them.
Notice that none of them involved shooting a 3-point shot. And of course, I believe that this can be done best with the Read & React.