Offenses have never been more lethal than they are in this era.
With primary ball-handlers becoming larger, the collective shooting
range expanding and teams leaning further into the importance of
spacing, it’s becoming even more difficult to keep the ball out of
With the game expanding, screening has become even more
important. A well-placed off-ball pick can free a movement shooter
for a triple or a catch-and-drive. On-ball screens can make shifty
ball-handlers even harder to deal with in pick-and-roll and open
the door for dump-offs, lobs and fruitful catch-and-shoot
Screeners come in all sizes these days, ranging from the burly
centers to mismatch-causing smalls. I can’t overstate how important
guard-screening has become, especially late in games.
This season, I want to keep tabs on who is — and isn’t — getting
the job done as screeners. Every week, I’ll be highlighting a
handful of the most powerful or shameful screen-setters in the
Let’s get into volume three.
*All stats are through games
played between November 5 and November 11, unless noted
BIG OF THE WEEK: GRANT WILLIAMS
This man's getting paid.
Grant Williams is in the midst of a career-year, averaging highs
in virtually every category. His on-court overview consists of
ridiculous efficiency from deep (50% on 3.1 attempts), added juice
and craft as a driver, some short-roll playmaking, and stout
defense across multiple positions.
What I've really enjoyed as of late are his cinderblock screens.
He's valuable off the ball, as part of sets — think of the Celtics'
pindown kink — or more improv looks. Not many players in the league
point harder than he does when he's setting up a flare or a pin-in
On the ball, you really get an idea of his value. He's sturdy
enough to move players, dutiful enough to hold and force mismatches
for his stars, and timely enough to create the aforementioned
short-roll situations by getting out of his screen early. He just
Possessions featuring a Williams on-ball screen generated a
ridiculous 1.38 points per possession (PPP) this week, per Second
Spectrum. The off-ball screen possessions weren't
at that level, but they were plenty fruitful
SMALL OF THE WEEK: REGGIE JACKSON
When you think of Reggie Jackson, you typically think of
bucket-getting — or baseball, or tossing a hat up in the air while
dancing. Ignore that last one.
Something that's popped this week has been his screening,
particuarly his partnership with Paul George. Normally, Terrance
Mann soaks up the guard-screening reps; he leads all non-frontcourt
Clippers in on-ball picks (51) this season, 15 more than Jackson
But Jackson has gotten more into the mix as of late. He set 18
this week, with 16 of those being for George. It hasn't just been
the hug-and-hold variety to force a mismatch either; Jackson's
getting busy, and his 77.8% contact rate this week proves it!
If you're getting this kind of buy-in, the positives are easy to
see. Jackson doesn't have to create from a standstill, and he gets
to make easier reads against scrambling defenses.
The Clippers blazed the nets (1.27 PPP) on trips featuring a
George-Jackson ball screen this week. We've seen 29 hookups between
the two this season, which puts them on pace to obliterate their
volume from last year (59). I'm here for the sample growing.
YOU SHOULD HAVE THE FACILITIES FOR THIS, BIG MAN: ISAIAH
Parsing through the season Isaiah Stewart is having would take
an entire article. That can extend to the Pistons at large,
One thing that has annoyed me a bit has been Stewart's screening
chops. Watching him when the Pistons want to run Veer action — a
big setting an on-ball screen before swinging to the corner to set
a pindown — has been infuriating in a basketball sense. The timing
is weird; his timing and angles have been weird.
Aside from the actual screening, it doesn't feel like his roll
angles have been great — at least not recently. He's flipping and
rolling in a straight line without really stressing the big or
giving his ball-handler — often Cade Cunningham — much of a pocket
to fit a pass into.
Stewart made contact at a decent rate this week (62.2% contact
rate), but he's down a good bit from last year's overall mark
(69%). There seem to be a combination of little things holding him
back from being an effective screening partner right now.
Hopefully, corrections are made soon.
WE SEE YOU TOO: JULIUS RANDLE
If you're not a fan of the New York Knicks, Julius Randle is
honestly pretty funny to watch off the ball. That man simply isn't
interested if he's not directly involved in an action. Of course,
that's not exclusive to him; I just wrote something similar
about Giannis Antetokounmpo last week. But like the Giannis point,
all I'm asking is for him to sell it a little bit.
It doesn't have to be a chore, man.
Screen Time will be back next Saturday! Check out last week's edition of
Screen Time here.