The Union Democrat
How Green sets perfect screens for Curry
Draymond Green answered the question without a hint of hesitation. Asked if it took him time to accept the importance of setting screens, Green said, “No, I went to Michigan State. That's what we do.”
Given this, playing four seasons for head coach Tom Izzo provided the ideal preparation for Green's professional career. He joined the Warriors in 2012 and has spent much of the past nine-plus years finding ways to create space for Stephen Curry.
Not a bad gig, really. Green relishes his role in helping Curry pursue Ray Allen's NBA record for most career 3-point shots. And no other Warriors player is better qualified to offer insight into the Art of Screening — especially for Curry — than Green.
So what are the keys to springing Steph?
“You have to understand the way your guy is guarding you — that's equally as important as actually making contact,” Green said this week in a Chronicle interview. “If you understand your angles and the guy who's defending you, sometimes you don't even need contact.
“You just need to cause the primary defender to veer off his path just a tad. When you're playing with a shooter like Steph or Klay (Thompson), they don't need much space to get a shot.”
Green acknowledged he finds it easy to screen for Curry, in part because of his quick release. Another factor: He's one of the most versatile shooters in the NBA.
Some players shoot well off ball screens (on the defender who's guarding the player with the ball), Green explained, and some excel on down screens (off-the-ball screens on the low post). Curry thrives on all different types of screens.
“When I'm setting a screen for Steph, I'm just trying to figure out how I can put him one-on-one with the big,” Green said. “If the big is down the floor and (Curry) is coming up, I know if I make contact with Steph's defender now you have a big trying to close out on Steph.
“You're terrified of the 3 (chuckling), and now Steph can split and get to the rim. ... I just need to create something that will give him half a second to decide whether he's going to shoot or drive.”
The No. 1 objective, as Green put it, is to get Curry open. Many times big
men set a screen thinking they can roll and take a pass if both defenders follow the player for whom the screen was set. But
Green focuses solely on creating space for Curry.
Next, as Green noted earlier, is understanding the angles to maximize Curry's advantage if the defense switches (as is usually the case).
“Where are your feet facing?” Green said. “That will determine how the guy guarding Steph can pursue the ball. So the angle of your screen is extremely important.”
Despite all this institutional knowledge, nearly a decade of helping
Curry launch long shots, Green's favorite 3-pointer involves Curry going solo. On March 8, 2015, in a game against the Clippers, he got stuck in the lane before dribbling behind his back and away from the basket to take a wild, 3-point shot (which he made, naturally).
Green was trying to set a screen on the play, then backed off.
“That was nuts,” he said. “You also have to understand when to get the hell out of the way.”