We doubt that the opponents of Steven Adams find his screens « subtle ». The kingpin kiwi is indeed known to be one of the toughest screeners in the NBA, and some have struggled to recover …
Yet, on closer inspection, the new Memphis hub isn’t content to just play his rugby physique on pick-and-roll. His job to help Ja Morant get baskets near the circle is thus much finer. It must be said that its leader is the player who shoots the most in the racket of the whole league!
Let Ja Morant’s aggression speak for itself
Because even if it shows great progress this season (40.4% success by far, against 31.7% in its first two seasons) and that it is downright on fire in the last matches (64% success in the last five games), Ja Morant is a point guard who loves snowshoeing first and foremost, and he needs help doing it.
This is where Steven Adams comes in handy, as the New Zealander has played for years with Russell Westbrook, another point guard who loves to attack the circle, and so he’s adept at the screen game.
There is thus the classic screen, on the defender of Ja Morant, in order to play the pick-and-roll.
More interestingly, Steven Adams also alternates a lot with a screen on his own player, who must provide cover for Ja Morant’s penetration in the second curtain. By trusting the first step of his leader, the pivot short-circuits the aid, and frees the access to the circle behind the back of his teammate’s first defender.
It’s amazing and it can even be even more subtle, with a pick-and-roll feint that transforms into a screen on the protector of the circle in the process, always to free the corridor of penetration.
Offensive screens and rebounds
Not to mention also the dual screen work on the same action. Last night, against the Nets, we saw Steven Adams put a first screen on Bruce Brown, in order to play the pick-and-roll, then accompany the dribble of his teammate, before putting a new screen on Blake Griffin in order to to clear the path of the circle.
Not sure that all the screens of the former Thunder and Pelicans are very legal, and his « blocks » sometimes look like American football, but it’s also a game of playing with the rules and the referees.
What is certain is that the (invisible) work of Steven Adams is precious to Ja Morant, who has gone from 53% success in painting last year, to 55% this season, and even 58%. at 66% below the circle. It’s hard to estimate how much of this rise is due to the Kiwi, compared to Jonas Valanciunas’ screens, but the visual impression is quite clear. Especially since the neo-Grizzly is also an offensive rebounder even more formidable than the Lithuanian.
This season, he is thus the player who collects the most ammunition under the circle, with 4.3 offensive rebounds on average. What to put even more pressure on the defenses on the penetrations of Ja Morant.