Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has long resisted embracing the NBA’s most popular play, the pick-and-roll, for a simple reason: He believes the best offenses are unpredictable, and worried that a steady drumbeat of high screens would be easy for defenses to dissect.
But after watching Golden State lose seven of eight games as rookie center James Wiseman struggled to find open looks, Kerr was desperate for something — anything — to help his team. 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.
This was a significant concession for Kerr, who had spent much of the previous 3½ months making only minor tweaks to his movement-heavy offense despite the fact that it called for a passing big man and Wiseman is more of a rim-running lob threat. Sidhu’s numbers convinced Kerr that, even though a heavy dose of pick-and-rolls might not be as aesthetically pleasing as Kerr’s motion system, it was what the Warriors needed.
Over the final 21 games, Kerr will continue to rely on the team’s analytics…