Golden State Warriors

Warriors’ Steve Kerr needed analytics to sell him on the Steph Curry, James Wiseman screen-and-roll

To the oldest play in basketball: meet your new best friend, the Golden State Warriors’ analytics department.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave his motion offense a rest against the Bucks on Tuesday, opting for a drastic increase in screen-and-roll plays starring guard Stephen Curry and rookie center James Wiseman. Though the simple play seems like a natural fit for the point guard and his new center, Kerr moved wholeheartedly toward the strategy after a push from Golden State’s analytics department.

That info comes courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau. Here’s a portion of his report on the increasing presence of analytics in Golden State.

Pabail Sidhu, the Warriors’ director of analytics and innovation, showed Kerr numbers reinforcing that Wiseman was at his best in pick-and-rolls with guard Stephen Curry.

In Tuesday night’s 122-121 win over the Bucks at Chase Center, Kerr ran a season-high-tying 71 pick-and-rolls. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the nuances of the Warriors’ read-and-react system, Wiseman (13 points, 10 rebounds) kept things simple, setting high screens for Curry before he ran to the rim or popped out for midrange jumpers.

Connor Letourneau/San Francisco Chronicle

It’s fantastic that Kerr opted to simplify the game for Wiseman, giving him the gift of a two-man play with arguably the best point guard of all time in Curry. But did the coach really need analytics to figure that one out? That’s incredible to me. The Curry/Wiseman screen-and-roll is a natural match made in heaven, especially for Wiseman.

But Kerr really loves his motion offense. You can’t blame him. Look at his results (three NBA titles in Golden State).

This will be fascinating to watch moving forward, however. The Warriors invested a lot in Wiseman, but what if he never thrives in Kerr’s offense? It’s not far-fetched. Led by Kerr, Golden State traditionally plays its best without a true center.

How much screen-and-roll will Wiseman need in the future? Did I mention the Warriors have an analytics department? It’s expanding, per Letourneau, and thank goodness. While it’s laughable that Kerr needed its help to know Wiseman would thrive at Curry’s side, that department of the franchise can help guide Kerr’s hand regarding this nuanced situation moving forward.

(Photo credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)

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