Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times hits one out of the park today with an article on the prevalence of the screen-and-roll in the NBA. Abrams breaks down the data Synergy Sports Technology style, and comes up with a piece full of interesting analysis.
The pick-and-roll is the play of choice for some of the league’s best players, like New Orleans’s Chris Paul, Phoenix’s Steve Nash, Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Cleveland’s LeBron James. The league’s dependence on the play is steadily increasing, according to a five-year analysis by Synergy Sports Technology, which logs every N.B.A. game, providing analytics to nearly every team. Use of the pick-and-roll rose to 18.6 percent of the league’s total plays last season from 15.6 percent in 2004-5, when Synergy began tracking it.
Nelson, who is currently sidelined for at least a month with a knee injury, was the most effective pick-and-roll player last season, according to Synergy. He averaged 1.15 points in offense generated for either himself or a teammate each time he ran the pick-and-roll during an injury-shortened regular season. James was second at 1.1. Paul posted a 1.08. Nash had a 1.06. “It’s sort of like a fast break where you get a numbers advantage,” said Garrick Barr, who is the chief executive of Synergy and who previously spent 11 years as the Suns’ video coordinator. “Pick-and-rolls create a halfcourt advantage.”
Well worth the read.