Teams in the NBA rarely utilize them because, well, they don’t work very often. This is basketball at its highest level, not high school varsity, so a 2-3 matchup zone isn’t going to last long against the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and others.
And the last team that people think a zone defense would work against is the Orlando Magic, given their ability to spread the floor and shoot threes with reckless abandon but also have a dominating inside presence in Dwight Howard to balance everything out offensively.
Yet the Utah Jazz last night, with head coach Jerry Sloan admitting that he had ran out of options, used the zone to erase an 18-point deficit in roughly 13 minutes of game time. It also helped that the Jazz began to run their flex offense to perfection, but their defense played a big role in allowing them to comeback and win by 10 points against the Magic.
Note two things: lack of ball movement and dribble penetration.
Want to make it easy on a zone defense? Do those things.