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Daily Digits: The Wizards are learning just how important screens are this season

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NBA: Playoffs-Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Daily Digits is a new daily feature we’re doing at Bullets Forever this year where we take a look at stats about the Wizards. We’ll dive into the numbers, add some context, and discuss how they affect the product on the court.

Today’s stat is the number of screen assists the Wizards are averaging per game this season, which is...

5.3

That average is tied with the Phoenix Suns for the lowest average in the league so far this season. DeAndre Jordan, who leads all players in screen assists this season, is averaging 6.4 per game all by himself.

Last season the Wizards finished eighth in screen assists per game, led by Marcin Gortat who averaged 4.5 per game despite a reduced role. The year before they finished fifth in screen assists per game, thanks in large part to Gortat who racked up more screen assists than anyone that season.

I don’t bring this up to re-examine the Gortat/Rivers trade. Even though Rivers has struggled early in the season, it’s still too early to say it was a bad move. I only bring it up to remind us how important screen-setters are in helping guards like John Wall and Bradley Beal flourish, and how much their absence can affect a team’s output.

Screen-setting may very well wind up being the most important skill Dwight Howard brings to the table when he returns on Friday against the Thunder. Howard averaged 4.2 screen assists per game last season, even though he asked for a lot of post-ups and the Hornets only had one good shot creator. It could be the key to unlocking whatever it is that has bound the Wizards’ offense early in the season.