There are a number of things that go into being an effective NBA offense; spacing, motion, personnel, the ability to put said personnel in a position to succeed, and more. The Heat will cross screen to get LeBron James good position in the post; Tony Parker will get the ball with a ready screener in front of him; and Kevin Durant will come off pindowns. You get the idea.
Recently, the Warriors have been using the gate screen to do this. This concept allows them to get their best shooter, Stephen Curry, in a position to succeed: coming off screens. Curry is 26th in the NBA with 1.02 points per play coming off screens, per mySynergySports.
This set is really just a modified version of the flex offense, which Golden State has been running a couple of times per game this season.
As with any flex action, a player–Richard Jefferson in this case–is entered the ball in the high post while the guard who passed him the ball goes to the corner to set an initial screen. Usually this is where Curry will read and either cut baseline or else come up toward the top of the key, but on this play his route is predetermined.
Curry comes off the initial screen and cuts through the middle, as if he’s running a normal flex cut. Jack gets the ball back from Jefferson, who shifts over toward the free throw line in tandem with Carl Landry from the other side of the court in a quickly closing pincer. Notice Leonard’s positioning here. He is clearly expecting a standard flex motion, not ready for what’s about to come next.
Curry quickly shoots the gap between his two teammates at the free throw line, and the formidable two man screen closes the gate with Leonard stuck far behind the play. He can’t recover and the two big men can’t help–they’re on the wrong side of the play too–leaving Curry with a wide open three. Here are some examples of the play in real time:
Look for this next time you watch Golden State–they’ve been running it quite often post-All Star Game.
At the beginning of this we talked about things the best offenses in the NBA do. On more thing? Develop counters for their best sets. The Warriors have been running Curry around screens all season and teams have begun to adjust. Here, San Antonio is caught assuming what Golden State will do and is burned by Curry from deep.