Picture this: Stephen Curry is dribbling the ball on the perimeter. As the most dangerous shooter in NBA history, he is already in scoring position, because that’s just the way it is with him. But he’s about to become even more of a threat, because the Warriors are about to bring somebody up to set a screen on Curry’s man. All Curry needs is the tiniest sliver of space to let the ball fly and, in all likelihood, you’re going to give up three points.
The screener himself can present varying degrees of danger depending on whether it’s Kevin Durant, or Kevon Looney, or DeMarcus Cousins, or Alfonso McKinnie, but none of it changes the fact that giving Curry even an inch of room is poison to a defense’s ability to make a stop.
So, what is a defense to do? Let’s run through the unappealing options.
They can attempt to play things straight up, with the man guarding Curry fighting over top of the screen in order to stay attached. If he’s even a split-second behind on this attempt, though, it’s all over. Curry’s either walking into a three or getting to the rim. Curry’s man can try going under the screen to meet Curry as he comes around, but that would be incredibly unwise and would essentially amount to an open invitation for the best shooter ever to pull up from downtown.