What is ISO in Basketball?

Have you ever heard any player or its follower commenting on the ISO player and get curious about what they are talking about. Well, there’s nothing to wonder about?

ISO is one of the Basketball parts which can be easily understood. Since basketball is a sport in which a team is involved, there is one moment when only one player from each team plays against each other, and the rest of the team stand and watch their steps. 

Now you must be wondering what the benefit of this play is and how the players can make a situation of ISO play. The article has got all the answers to your questions. Just give a reading to complete the article and eliminate all your uncertainties. 

ISO in Basketball

ISO in basketball refers to Isolation. It occurs when a player goes individually with another opponent, and they play against each other. The team selected an isolated player who is usually the best in the entire team.

Once the player has been chosen, he takes the referee’s consent whether the player matches with the opponent ISO player or not. Isolation is very common in basketball, in which the whole team spreads on the edges of the court to provide enough space to ISO players.

In Isolation, the offender’s objective is to score purely on his offensive skills or take advantage of the defender’s less defensive skills. That’s why a referee allows the ISO player if the two players’ skills match each other.

The ISO player must be skillful in every move, specifically ball handling. In this play, the offender would not get any support from any of his team members.

Instead, the entire team would set aside and watch only. The same would be done with the defender. If the defender has weaker skills, it becomes ideal for the offender to score more in the ISO situation.

Types of ISO Play in Basketball

Although Isolation’s basic concept remains the same, there are certain types upon which you set up this situation. If you set up an ISO situation by choosing the best player, you have a great chance to score more and accomplish. However, I have discussed ISO player types based on which you can set up the play.

  • You can set up the Isolated play around the wings, corners, or perimeters of the court.
  • You can use cuts, such as backdoor-cuts, I-cuts, and V-cuts to get the dribbling ball.
  • You can set up ISO situations using screens such as cross-screens, double-screens, or back-screens to trick the defensive player.

What are the Gaps in Players in ISO play?

If the team somehow chooses the player who does not match the opponent’s Isolated player, then the team is at significant risk of failing in an ISO situation. However, while setting up the Isolated play, the team must consider the following things in an ISO player:

  • Speed and swiftness
  • Number of fouls
  • Size and height

In an Isolated player, these aspects should match each other for a competitive match. However, if one player is weak in any of them, the other would get an excellent opportunity to succeed.


In basketball, an ISO player is also known as a hero because he is the only player who takes all the game flow without taking any help from his teammates. However, the NBA has also got some striking heroes who handled the Isolated play significantly and became prominent on the court.

James Harden from the Houston Rockets team in the 2019-2020 season was one of these heroes. James Harden loves to lead the ISO play and is well-recognized as a pro ISO player.

In this league, Harden put his team back on the court and successfully led the Isolated play. He recorded a score of 37.5 in this 48-minute match. Although the isolated play is not that fascinating play, this time, Harden kept the concentration of every spectator on the court.

ISO Pros in Basketball

If a team comprises some highly proficient players, the team can get some fantastic benefits by playing in an Isolated situation. However, being an ISO player, you would get the following advantages.

  • In an Isolated play, there is some situation when the team sends another player to help the ISO defensive player. However, at this point, the offensive team can take advantage of that player by getting a spot on the court. By doing this, they can make the defender get the ball in a threatening situation.
  • The team usually chooses the Isolation player who is strong enough to take over the defender position. So the offender can lead the situation and get to the rim.
  • If any of the ISO players mismatches their opponent, the team has a great chance to win and control the station.
  • Some smart Isolated players find it easier to use their talent and trick the opposing player into making his maximum fouls. 

ISO Cons in Basketball

  • Unluckily, if your team chooses an ISO player who is weaker than the competing team, you may encounter some disadvantages of Isolation situation. Not only this, the team may find some other cons too:
  • The team starts relying on one or two players who are overall proficient to be selected as an isolated player. It can result in diminishing the team’s potential.
  • ISO play is only efficient for the offense team. This situation is not useful for the defense sector.


ISO play can be an excellent means to score high in basketball, only if it is played proficiently. However, an Isolation situation can be handled precisely by an efficient ball handler just like Kyrie Irving.

Although this play possesses both plus points and downsides, it should be played wisely, and a team must choose the best player because no teammate would be there to help. So, if you choose a weaker player, it may impact your score negatively, but picking the right player would make you stand out on the court.