A large swath of basketball goes unrecognized, uncharted and (essentially) undervalued by the metrics currently available. One aspect of basketball that fits this description is setting screens.
Ask any coach of the value of having players (particularly bigs) who are good screen setters, and they will sing praises. These guys do all the dirty work, setting screens to create space and force favorable matchups, which take a toll on defenders. Screens are the lifeblood of most NBA offenses, so it should come as no surprise that bigs who set good screens are coveted commodities. That said, because of the lack of ability to quantify screen quality, we've probably undervalued (in terms of salary paid) good screeners. Until now.
Using proprietary data from Vantage Sports, which tracks a variety of heretofore unmeasurable actions (like screening), we are now able to identify and attribute credit to individuals. The data were collected over a span of roughly two and a half seasons, giving us a large enough sample size to draw conclusions. For the purposes of this piece, let's focus on three specific aspects of screening (see explanation at the bottom of the story):
1. Screen frequency
2. Screen quality
3. Screen outcome
So who are some of the players who give us similar production at a lower cost? Here are 10 of the best screen setters in the league on a budget, arranged by average annual value (AAV) of their contracts.
Note: Tiago Splitter, Joakim Noah, Kendrick Perkins are among the very best at these screen-setting aspects. However, they are also handsomely compensated ($10 million, $11.1 million, and $8.7 million, respectively), so they were excluded from this list.
RFA = Restricted Free Agent; UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent