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The List: Paul makes teams pay on pick-and-roll plays

POSTED: Feb 6, 2015 12:12 PM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann

NBA.com

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Chris Paul has already hit more pick-and-roll 3s this season than he did all of last year.

The list

Highest effective field goal percentage as pick-and-roll ball-handler
Player Screens FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% eFG%
Chris Paul 1,497 172 341 50.4% 29 61 47.5% 54.7%
Aaron Brooks 810 91 187 48.7% 19 40 47.5% 53.7%
Klay Thompson 279 49 112 43.8% 18 39 46.2% 51.8%
Joe Johnson 633 74 153 48.4% 9 21 42.9% 51.3%
Stephen Curry 915 95 210 45.2% 25 74 33.8% 51.2%
Cory Joseph 537 51 101 50.5% 1 1 100.0% 51.0%
James Harden 1,083 120 265 45.3% 28 78 35.9% 50.6%
Kyrie Irving 1,139 150 328 45.7% 27 65 41.5% 49.8%
Brian Roberts 551 51 113 45.1% 10 22 45.5% 49.6%
Eric Bledsoe 897 84 184 45.7% 14 37 37.8% 49.5%
Minimum 100 FGA
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
Through Wednesday, Feb. 4.
via SportVU

The context

You know that the pick-and-roll is a huge part of NBA basketball. You see about 115 of them every game. But you might not realize how seldom a pick-and-roll results in a shot for the two guys involved in the initial action.

According to SportVU, ball handlers usually don't shoot when coming off a pick-and-roll. Only 65 players had attempted at least 100 shots off a ball screen through Wednesday, and the league averages just 22 field-goal attempts from the ball handler for every 100 ball screens that are set for him.

The screener only gets half as many, just 11 shots per 100 screens that he sets. Total that up and on only a third of ball screens does a shot (from the field) come directly from the ball-handler or the screener. Poor Furkan Aldemir has set 194 ball screens and gotten just two shots off those plays.

For the most part, ball screens are set to produce a shot from somewhere else. If you can gain an advantage by running a pick-and-roll, drawing an extra defender to the ball or bending the defense toward the screener, the ball can eventually find an open shooter. But NBA defenses typically defend the two guys involved in the pick-and-roll pretty well. In fact, both shoot below the league average.

On all shots, the league has an effective field-goal percentage of 49.7 percent. Ball handlers have an effective field-goal percentage of 43.5 percent when shooting off a ball screen, while screeners have an effective field-goal percentage of 48.0 percent after catching a pass from the ball handler.

Only the first eight guys on the list above have shot better off screens than that league-average 49.7 percent mark. So, for most guys, a shot coming off a screen is not a good shot.

We think of Stephen Curry as the most dangerous shooter off a screen, but Chris Paul has shot better on a lot more shots this season. And he's been just as likely to shoot (23 FGA per 100 ball screens) as Curry.

The same wasn't true last season. Paul has both improved his shooting off ball screens and increased the likelihood that he'd shoot. He's already hit more pick-and-roll 3s than he did last year.

Chris Paul shooting as pick-and-roll ball handler
Season Screens FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% EFG% FGA/Scr
2013-14 2,171 202 435 46.4% 22 69 31.9% 49.0% 0.20
2014-15 1,497 172 341 50.4% 29 61 47.5% 54.7% 0.23

Curry isn't getting nearly as many ball screens (19.5 per game) as he did last season (27.6). And he's been a little less likely to shoot, with his pick-and-roll 3-point percentage well down.

Stephen Curry shooting as pick-and-roll ball handler
Season Screens FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% EFG% FGA/Scr
2013-14 2,126 242 533 45.4% 91 215 42.3% 53.9% 0.25
2014-15 915 95 210 45.2% 25 74 33.8% 51.2% 0.23

Curry has still been more likely to pull up from beyond the arc than Paul, but it's been Paul that's been the lights-out 3-point shooter this season.

Curry, however, has been slightly more likely to record an assist after having a ball screen set for him. According to SportVU, ball screens for Curry have yielded 1.16 points per possession, while ball screens for Paul have yielded 1.15. Both marks rank in the top 10 among 161 players who have had at least 100 ball screens set for them.

Both guys are dangerous in more ways than one. They're the biggest reasons that the Clippers and Warriors have the two most efficient offenses in the league. But their shooting on pick-and-rolls is just a small part of their success.

The video

Some recent pick-and-roll 3-pointers from Chris Paul ...

-- Jan. 19 vs. Boston

-- Jan. 25 at Phoenix (x2)

-- Jan. 30 at New Orleans

-- Jan. 31 at San Antonio (x2)

-- Feb. 2 at Brooklyn

You'll notice that he doesn't usually step right into the three. But if you play him to drive, he'll pull up after surveying the floor for other options.

One Stat, One Play

This week's edition of "One Stat, One Play" looked at the league leader in mid-range shots, LaMarcus Aldridge, and how the Blazers can give him space where he feels most comfortable ...

LaMarcus Aldridge: One Stat - One Play

NBA.com's John Schuhmann breaks down how the Portland Trail Blazers run their offense through LaMarcus Aldridge.

The bottom of the list

Defenders can feel comfortable going under the screen against DeMar DeRozan, who has an effective field goal percentage of just 33 percent (33-for-100, 0-for-1 3PT) when coming off a ball screen, last among the 65 ball handlers who have taken at least 100 shots. He does get to the line a good amount, though.

Just ahead of DeRozan are Tony Wroten (33.2 percent on 119 FGA), Austin Rivers (34.0 percent on 103 FGA), Michael Carter-Williams (34.2 percent on 199 FGA) and Deron Williams (35.0 percent on 133 FGA).

Trivia question

What full-time power forward (not a 3/4 like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony) or center has had the most ball screens set for him?

More notes on pick-and-roll ball handlers

• Of 161 players who had come off at least 100 ball screens through Wednesday, the most likely to shoot is Nick Young, who has attempted a shot off 49 percent (105/215) of the ball screens that have been set for him.

• The least likely to shoot is Jazz rookie Dante Exum, who has attempted a shot just seven percent (25/367) of the time.

• Sixers rookie K.J. McDaniels has committed a turnover on 10.3 percent of his ball screens, the highest rate among players who have come off at least 100.

• Pistons rookie Spencer Dinwiddie has had 103 ball screens set for him and has committed just two turnovers on those plays. Of higher volume ball handlers, J.J. Barea (2.4 percent of 674) and Kemba Walker (2.5 percent of 1,494) have the lowest turnover rates off ball screens.

Kawhi Leonard has drawn a foul on 11.1 percent of his ball screens, the highest rate among ball handlers who have come off 100 or more.

• The most likely to drive has been Mario Chalmers, who has driven off 28.7 percent of the ball screens that have been set for him.

• The most likely to turn a pick-and-roll into an isolation has been LeBron James, who has isolated after 8.9 percent of the ball screens that have been set for him.

• The most likely to pass to the screener has been C.J. Watson, who has passed to his screener 41 percent of the time, though he's been a lot more likely to pass to David West (44 percent), Luis Scola (55 percent) or Lavoy Allen (54 percent) than Roy Hibbert (21 percent).

• The least likely to pass to the screener has been Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who has passed to his screener less than nine percent of the time.

Trivia answer

Blake Griffin, who had 109 ball screens set for him through Wednesday, 43 set by DeAndre Jordan and 39 by Paul. The Griffin/Paul pick-and-rolls have yielded an efficient 1.13 points per possession, while the Griffin/Jordan pick-and-rolls have yielded just 0.95.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.