Stephen Curry isn’t only a threat with the ball in his hands. Because he’s just as dangerous off ball, opponents have to be a step ahead of him if they have any chance of slowing him down. One of the ways the Warriors use that to their advantage is by having Curry set screens on his teammates in the half court to confuse opponents.
Here’s an example of just that from Wednesday’s game between the Warriors and Suns following a timeout.
Part 1: The Set-up
The beauty of the Warriors is that they’re not restricted to one or two players bringing the ball up court. Draymond Green, who is putting up numbers we’ve never seen before, looks like a point guard on paper and Andre Iguodala is capable of making plays with the ball in his hands.
That allows Curry and Klay Thompson to play off ball, which is a nightmare for teams to deal with because they’re amongst the league’s best scorers off of screens.
On this play in particular, Curry and Thompson set up across from each other in the corners. Meanwhile, Iguodala (who has the ball in his hands) and Green stand behind the perimeter, while Andrew Bogut parks himself at the free throw line.
Part 2: Diversion
Curry and Thompson exchange screens underneath the basket, but Curry breaks before they make contact to run towards Green. The Suns aren’t forced to switch — they’re trailing Curry and Thompson to prevent themselves from getting hung up on screens — and Thompson clears out to the corner.
Notice how Bogut moves from underneath the free throw line to just inside the 3-point line while that’s going on. He fakes as though he’s going to set a screen on Iguodala’s defender, which helps pull Tyson Chandler away from the rim — important for the play to unfold.
Part 3: The Screen
Iguodala passes the ball to Thompson in the left corner and Curry sets a back screen on Green. With no rim protector in sight — again, notice Bogut pulling Chandler away — Green makes a simple cut towards the basket. Because Curry demands so much attention, Eric Bledsoe is forced to stick with him rather than switching. That puts all of the pressure on Jon Leuer to fight over the screen.
Part 4: Bucket
As soon as Thompson catches the ball, he turns around and throws a bullet to Green for an uncontested layup. And just in case that didn’t work, Bogut moves towards Curry to set a screen and Iguodala clears out to the weak side.
Those Warriors, always thinking of ways to make you pay.
Here’s a GIF of the play:
Pay attention to Green at the start of the play, too. Standing upright with a hand on his hip, Leuer relaxes and shifts his attention to Iguodala and Bogut. That’s all Green needs to create a passing lane by getting Leuer on his back.