What Does ISO Mean In Basketball? Explained

what does iso mean in basketball

If you frequently watch basketball games, you may have heard of the term ISO and must be wondering: what does ISO mean in basketball?

ISO means turning the match into a two-player game with a person playing from each team. Other players do not help with a screen, there is no double-teaming, and no one works alongside the defender to intercept the ball.

When a player starts dribbling the ball firmly and asks team members to allow space to play solo, these are major signs that an ISO play is about to start during a basketball game. Calling for the ball to play a shot or signaling other players on their team to make room means they want to play 1-on-1 with the opponent.

This isolation was named ISO or isolation play/move by basketball enthusiasts. It may not seem like something too important, but in reality, it is a popular style of basketball and an essential move in any basketball game used by offensive players.

What Does ISO Mean In Basketball? – The Pros And Cons

what does iso mean in basketball


  • A single player gains complete control of the basketball.
  • Weak team members can take a position at the rim to help achieve a higher score.
  • Dribbling an ISO ball means more space to play around and create offense.
  • A single player can cause the opponent defender to fail more easily.
  • A 1-on-1 match as opposed to a double team game increases the chance of collision, allowing quicker scoring.


  • A single player handles the game, which can be risky and overwhelming.
  • The opponent only needs to guard the ball against one person.
  • Shooting the ball becomes tricky as there are no distractions. 
  • The single or offensive player may get tired and exhausted.
  • When one player stays in the limelight for too long, jealousy can spring amongst other players.
  • Other players do not get the opportunity to score as fairly.

Who Are The Best ISO Players In NBA History?

what does iso mean in basketball

While it is true that the iso-ball or iso play rose in popularity due to street ball in the 2000s due to players like the Hot Sauce, The Professor, And1 Mixtape Tour, and playground clips from the Rucker Park, it is also true that it is now widely known due to NBA players.

So, who are the best iso basket players, and what does ISO mean in basketball to them? Let us take a look below at top offensive players:

James Harden – Philadelphia 76ers

what does iso mean in basketball- ISO Player James Harden

NBA player statistics have a value that defines the usage percentage. This value is the duration any player is active during a 48-minute basketball match.

NBA player statistics have a value that defines the usage percentage. This value is the duration any player is active during a 48-minute basketball game.

James Harden scored a 37.5 for the 2019 to 2020 season, which is why he is a top-rated ISO basketball player in NBA. Due to his perfect sync with the ball, he often gets to lead multiple ISO plays in a single game.

This technique may get boring to watch, but Houston Rockets use James Harden because he is extremely good at it. He is agile, handles the ball perfectly, and can dribble smoothly. He is famous for the following during his isolation plays:

  • Between the legs.
  • Shot fake to land a foul on the defense. 
  • Step-back jumper.
  • Crossover.

During the recent season, Harden doubled his ISO plays and took second place with an average of 12 goals in one game. He is also able to land 17 points per game as a remarkable ball handler. He is truly the definition of what does ISO mean in basketball if you are looking for clues in terms of offensive players or a ball handler.

Kyrie Irving -Brooklyn Nets

what does iso mean in basketball- ISO Player Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving is another player whose ISO plays and moves are insane at times. He is very confident and boasts that he can take on anyone in the NBA league and is very difficult to steal the ball from.

Irving creates a mixture of several lateral moves, agility, and superb ball handling to impress his fans and viewers. He plays ISO in only 14% of his games but still holds a score that matches Harden’s.

With a field goal percentage of 39.5%, his score is only 6% less than Harden’s..

Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers

what does iso mean in basketball- ISO Player Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant will go down in NBA history as the greatest ISO basketball player. He helped his team win 5 NBA championships during his 20-year career. Whenever the Los Angeles Lakers wanted a quick score, they summoned the Kobe ISO.

His crossover move was not as good as Iverson’s, but he was a perfect jumper. He was able to knock down defending attempts even by the tallest players, making him a force to be reckoned with. 

Lebron James – Los Angeles Lakers

what does iso mean in basketball- ISO Player Lebron James

Lebron James has scored 111 points through ISO. Not only is he an excellent dribbler and ball handler, but he is also feared immensely amongst competitors. 

Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers 

what does iso mean in basketball- ISO Player Damian Lillard

Lillard has 110 points using ISO plays. He serves as a point guard for his team.

Russell Westbrook – Los Angeles Lakers

what does iso mean in basketball- ISO Player Russell Westbrook

Russell combines quickness, speed, physical strength, and focus on mastering the ISO play. He has 99 points and is a mid-range shooter..

Giannis Antetokounmpo -Milwaukee Bucks

what does iso mean in basketball- ISO Player Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis is a Greek legend who earned his name in the NBA league. He won the NBA championship in 2021 due to being a superb ball handler and ISO skills.

What Does ISO Mean In 2k?

Like the real-life game, ISO also stands for the same thing in the official game. ISO or isolation means a 1-on-1 match with a team member from both teams.

Other team members secure positions on the rims and help shoot the ball into the basket. The offensive player is responsible for snatching, handling, dribbling, and even shooting the basketball for shots.

People Also Ask

What Does It Mean To Call ISO?

Usually, a coach calls an ISO play to give an offensive player the power to control the entire game single-handedly. It is a 1-on-1 match and is usually called by a coach at the end of a quarter.

What Does Kobe ISO Mean?

The Kobe ISO refers to Kobe Bryant and his ISO plays which would help pull the Lakers out of a tight spot in their matches. The coach usually called it to get a quick score when the Los Angeles Lakers team badly needed it. This way, Kobe helped the team win 5 championships.

Was Kobe An ISO Player?

Yes, Kobe was an ISO player who helped his team win 5 NBA championship leagues.

Can You Call ISO In The NBA?

Yes, the coach can call an ISO play in the NBA league whenever he pleases.


You should now have a clear answer to what does ISO mean in basketball and what NBA players are famous for using the ISO basketball technique. If you wish to play an ISO ball yourself, you will need to train yourself. You must practice incomparable confidence, strength, speed, focus, and superb ball handling skills. Combining all these with excellent dribbling, shooting, and passing skills will help you perfect your ISO ball play!

Hope we’ve answered Good luck!

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