Explain One Play Mailbag #5. Counting screens, moving screens, rewinding screens

I screen, you screen, we all screen for ice screen

A list of all Explain One Play articles and videos is at The new Explain One Play index.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Q. Screen assists and Wiseman’s Screens

(Jan 28) tempprofile says: The thing that really seems to be missing from nba stats is if you set a great screen that springs a shooter for an open look, you get credit for nothing. Wiseman's screens deserve an E1P as my perception is that for the most part, they aren't very good.

Yes, the NBA assist takes no account of off-ball movement, such as screens and cuts and hockey assists. NBA actually does track screen assists, but not well. In games I've looked at carefully, you can see Steph's screens directly lead to an open man, but he doesn't get credit for most. I suspect "screen assist" means you have to screen the ball handler's man leading directly to a score.

My feeling about Wiseman's screens is that he needs to be more skilled at making solid contact or slipping decisively to the right spot. I bet he will get there, especially if he's watching Looney. I feel like he's making better contact already.

Q. Moving Screens?

(Feb 12) Jonah Stein says: The rhetorical question here, relevant mostly because Steph got called for it last night.. What are the rules for a moving screen when someone sets a back pick or makes contact below the 3 pt line. It seems like I see moving/driving screens all the time. Why isn't it a foul on either Steph or his defender when he is basically blocking like a fullback, driving the defender away from the line of scrimmage. 

I’ve thought about doing a whole Beginner E1P on illegal screens. It would be a combination of looking at the appended. The problem is illegal screens can be called on many many plays so it’s like holding in football, refs pick and choose so everyone is confused. So my video wouldn’t really clarify... people would know what the call SHOULD be, but it doesn’t explain what actually gets called.

Section III—By Screening

A player who sets a screen shall not (1) assume a position nearer than a normal step from an opponent, if that opponent is stationary and unaware of the screener’s position, or make illegal contact with an opponent when he assumes a position at the side or front of an opponent, or (3) assume a position so near to a moving opponent that he is not given an opportunity to avoid contact before making illegal contact, or (4) move laterally or toward an opponent being screened, after having assumed a legal position. The screener may move in the same direction and path of the opponent being screened.

In (3) above, the speed of the opponent being screened will determine what the screener’s stationary position may be. This position will vary and may be one to two normal steps or strides from his opponent.

Q. Watching and Rewinding the Game?

(Feb 12) ndubs says: what tools / service do people use to watch the games - and what functionality is in there? I switched from Comcast to Youtube TV, and while I've got DVR, I can only skip forward or backwards in 15 seconds increments. No slow motion, no fast motion, and no reverse. Some days I just want to watch the game and skip the commercials, so it works well, other days I feel like getting a little deeper into it.

My literal current set up is: 

I watch the live game on Sling TV. I rarely rewind live... I just like to enjoy the game and suffer like everyone else. I have subscribed to NBA League Pass for years and been ripped off every season because of all the blackouts and the stupid long wait before watching archived video. 

I use Mac screen recording to capture the Sling.

When I want to analyze a play, if I’m in a rush, I’ll look at the NBA.com play by play, which links to video of the actual play. For instance, I did that with this specific play.

(You can tell by the NBA Advanced Stats watermark.). Sometimes I’ll peek at a YouTube compilation if they’ve plucked out something interesting (like all of Nico Mannion’s plays in a G-League game).

If I really need to rewind the play, I’ll drop into the console and find the direct url to download the mp4, or use YouTube-dl. Then I’ll usually watch the video on VLC. For this video, I used QT Player to fully dramatize the rewinding. 

Often the highlight packages (and even the NBA play by play) cut off the important part of the play that sets up the advantage, so it’s always better to see the play from the start if you’re not in a rush.


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