The perfect pick: NBA's best screeners explain their unheralded art

The play starts with Washington Wizard’s Marcin Gortat setting a screen on teammate John Wall’s defender, giving Wall enough open space for a drive to the basket where he has options as the defense breaks down.

Wall can shoot, he can pass to an open teammate at the three-point line, or he can throw the basketball to Gortat, who has options, too: he can take a point-blank shot or make a pass to an open shooter.

All those options were made possible because of Gortat’s screen, one of the most common, important and unheralded basketball acts in the NBA.

“We believe setting screens leads to winning plays,” Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd said during the first-round of the NBA playoffs. “It doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but we take pride in setting screens.”

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A screen, as defined by the NBA Rulebook, is “the legal action of a player who, without causing undue contact, delays or prevents an opponent from reaching a desired position.”

Without quibbling here regarding what constitutes a legal…

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