May 12, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Jarrett Jack (2, left) celebrates with point guard Stephen Curry (30, right) during overtime in game four of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 97-87 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Curry: Are the Golden State Warriors Better When He's Off the Ball?

Early in Stephen Curry’s career, there was uncertainty as to whether he should play shooting guard or point guard. Some thought Curry lacked the ball handling and court awareness to run the point. But he has put these concerns to rest. However, there is still some public doubt as to which role maximizes Curry’s talents and the Golden State Warriors’ efficiency the most.

The Warriors still often use Curry in an off ball roll. throughout the games, they run series of screens designed to free Curry for a shot while another player, typically Jarrett Jack Jack runs the offense. These plays typically come in the form of a “floppy” set, in which Curry takes a series of staggered screens, generally looking for a corner three-point attempt, while allowing structured reads and general improvisation through the play, or more simple pin-downs, which can result in a spot-up look or lead into a pick and roll.

Along with their more basic sets, the Warriors have developed unique play designs, including the “Figure 8” set:

Also, the “Elevator Play”:

Curry is one of the league’s most effective off-ball shooters. According to mysynergysports.com, Curry scores 1.35 points per play in spot-up situations, fifth in the league, and 1.07 points per play off screens, 20th in the league.

The Warriors use Curry off the ball throughout games, but much of these schemes come in the fourth quarter, when Jack often runs the offense while Curry spaces the floor with his seemingly unlimited range.

Even off the ball, Curry demands the constant attention of the defense. His defender often needs to chase him through screens and around the court, and the rest of the defense must hedge, trap and deny screens to give Curry’s defender time to recover. This often draws defensive help from the ball handler, allowing Jack, Klay Thompson and other Warriors to attack with decreased defensive pressure.

However, the defensive attention drawn by Curry off the ball does far less to benefit the Warriors than Curry’s on-ball creation, which he is very effective at. He is the league’s 27th-best pick and roll ball handler and 32nd-best isolation scorer in terms of points per play, and had an impressive assist percentage of 29.8 percent during the regular season.

Curry is able to create scoring opportunities for both himself and for teammates, and his teammates are much more efficient at converting the looks Curry generates for them than they are at attacking when hen is playing an off the ball roll. With David Lee no longer available to take advantage of the defensive attention on Curry, Curry’s creation becomes even more necessary to the Warriors’ offense.

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