Seth Curry and the Loop

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Seth Curry had a nice game in Sacramento, scoring 22 points on 7-13 shooting. That follows an 11-point effort against Brooklyn as he begins to look more like himself coming out of the COVID-19 diagnosis and quarantine period.

One of the nice things about Sixers coach Doc Rivers, who doubles as Curry’s father-in-law, is that he’s pretty open about talking Xs and Os. He’ll give simple descriptions of various plays and sets, oftentimes unprompted, which helps us understand how he’s molding this team to his liking.

After the Kings win, Rivers said this about Curry:

“He kind of saved us in that first half. It’s funny, it looked like him and Ben (Simmons) were the only two that had good rhythm early on. It was good that our team recognized it. Even Joel, he hadn’t shot the ball in a couple of times and he runs down and he’s running ‘loop,’ which is one of our sets for Seth. That just tells you where the team is at right now. They see a guy’s got it going, they feed him and they want him to keep it going. That was a great sign.”

A very small nugget there, but “loop” has existed in the NBA as a simple off-ball set for a long time now. Essentially you’re just taking a shooter, starting him somewhere on the wing, and then running him off multiple screens.

Here are some different stills showing how they like to use their shooting guard.

First, they’re just gonna run Curry off Harris and Embiid at the top of the foul line, like this:

That looks like a horns set, but you bring the shooter across the line and run him through that pair of screens. It’s not dissimilar from the famous “Iverson cut” that A.I. ran to perfection many years ago.

This one looks like a traditional double stagger, with Curry rounding Harris to receive the DHO from Embiid:

Tony Parker used to run a ton of this with the Spurs. San Antonio would enter with a zipper cut, then Parker had the option of running on the baseline and coming out on the weak side of the floor, or he could counter back and receive the ball on the strong side. Golden State ran a lot of “Loop” as well, using Stephen Curry in low corner starting points and then running him to the opposite side of the floor entirely.

This concept is very similar to “floppy,” which is a common set for shooters. In floppy, the player (think Marco Belinelli), starts underneath the rim and has the choice of running off a screen to his left or screen to his right and popping out closer to the ball handler. The difference between floppy and loop is starting point, with the former starting on the baseline and the latter being more of a wing play.

We’re using different names to talk about similar concepts, and that’s the idea of moving shooters through screens without the ball. In Curry’s case, he got into a nice rhythm on Tuesday night playing this way, and there’s a lot to build on moving forward.

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