File this category in the Lost Arts department. Many members of
our panel, which consists of one representative from each of the
NBA's 29 teams, were reluctant to fill in any name on a ballot
that would determine the top player at screening off a defender.
"I don't know who it would be," says one coach. "The guys who do
try to set the screens do the dirty work and then get fouls
called on them. And the stars won't set them."
Ultimately, the voters favored those who excel at dirty work:
power forwards. New York's 6'9", 245-pound Charles Oakley was
the winner with five votes and was even called "one of the best
ever [at setting picks]," by a Pacific Division coach. Utah's
Karl Malone earned four votes while Chicago's Dennis Rodman and
Detroit's Rick Mahorn grabbed three each.
Even though he's a 10-time All-Star, Malone enjoys setting
picks, and with his 256-pound frame, as one coach noted, "you
stay picked." Respondents admired Rodman's scrappiness and
Mahorn's nasty streak. "When [Mahorn] sets a pick on you," says
one voter, "he wants to kill you."
There was one small interloper among the big bruisers: Jazz
point guard John Stockton received three votes. "I know this may
sound strange," one assistant coach says, "but for a little guy
Stockton sets a mean pick."
March 3, 1997