Continued Thoughts on Rim Protection in Isolation (more numbers)
It's been two weeks since I first used SportVU data to try and isolate "rim protection value" provided by various NBA bigs. I want to revisit this periodically to see how it holds up over the course of the season. Has anyone improved or regressed greatly, and do these changes mean anything? Certainly teams have gone on streaks, which usually entails "an improved commitment to defense", or so we're usually told.
In Which I Lambaste Mike Brown (with a poke at Doc Rivers as well)
I don't understand, that always worked with Lebron
The other week when I talked about the horrorshow that is the Cleveland offense, I stated that Mike Brown is a bad offensive coach, figuring I didn't need to provide examples. But he provides them anyway, and not just of his teams' "get the worst shot possible given our talent" philosophy with the ball, but for a guy with a supposed great pedigree for defensive principles, oversees a team prone to some shocking breakdowns.
Rim Protection Adjustments and Revisions (more numbers)
After getting some positive offline feedback for Saturday's post, I realized that it really is a mistake to not adjust for pace and team factors when assigning credit to rim protection. For example, Chris Kaman's impressive (though small sample size riddled) numbers undoubtedly benefit from the fact that the Lakers allow the most shots at the rim in the league, and do so by a decent margin.
A current #HotNBATake is that the Timberwolves have to make a move because Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic aren't compatible long term because of their defensive frailties. I've discussed Love's defensive shortcomings at length, whereas Pekovic's defense is more controversial. At that link a Wolves fan argues that Pekovic is as valuable a rim protector as Roy Hibbert based on his ability to prevent attempts at the rim.
When Rob and I talked about Greg Monroe on the podcast a while back, we were both lukewarm on him as a piece around which a contender can be built. For a number of reasons, he's somewhere between the poor man's Al Jefferson and the homeless man's Kevin Love, between his relatively plodding, though skilled, style, his subservience to gravity and his questionable defense at an extremely important defensive position.
Kevin Love is a player at the bleeding edge of the basketball analytics movement. Is he a borderline MVP candidate or a marginally above replacement stat whore who doesn't contribute wins? I'm not going to begin to untangling that thicket advanced math and even more advanced online invective, but I will look into the most obvious hole in the KLove4MVP sign wavers' arguments. By reputation, the man plays very little defense. Though his reputation as a pylon is overblown, it is only just so.
Big Bad Defense (Why You Overrate Your Favorite Power Forward) - Big Man Help Defense (Intro)
I know I left my man somewhere...
Some times bad defense is easy to spot - you've got your blowbys, your missed rotations, and your loss of vision on your man (and leave Amare alone, he forced a turnover here...) We even can recognize that even if my guy didn't score, I played bad D if your guy waltzes right past me on a pick-and-roll. But most of the best (and thus most of the worst) defensive work from interior players happens away from the ball and thus the attention. So I'm going to shine a light down there and look some at the off ball defense of some good, but mostly some bad defending NBA big men. Some of the names are people you would expect (Kevin Love, David Lee, Greg Monroe) and some may surprise you (Kenneth Faried, in some ways Brook Lopez).
Monday's Pacers-Wolves game was meant to be some kind of early season test for both teams. Are the Wolves for real this year? Can the Pacers actually beat someone good during their creampuff early season schedule? I don't think these narratives are particularly useful, in part because the results of one game are a pretty poor barometer of that kind of stuff. However, a matchup like this can serve as a laboratory of sorts in that Minnesota's high powered offense (though down to 10th in PPP after this game) ran into Indy's staunch D. Obviously, on the night, the
Pacers' D won out, but I'm less interested in the what than in the how and the why? How did Indiana defend Minny and why did it work? Taking some specifics from the game illustrate eight main reasons why Indiana's defense is so rightly feared.
In the last post on Phoenix's pick and roll D, I noted some of the common mistakes the roll defender was making. Now, I'm going to look at some of the mistakes being made by other defenders. All of these examples come with the caveat that for the most part, I have no way of knowing what scheme Phoenix was attempting to run, so it's entirely possible I'm placing blame on someone for not making a rotation they weren't supposed to make. But aside from egregious errors
I see you, Morris Twins
where the players were clearly expecting different schemes or have no idea what a scheme is let alone which one they are attempting, I'm going to assume that everyone is at least attempting to do the right thing.
One of the more interesting development of this early season has been the competitiveness of "tanking" teams like Boston, Philadelphia and especially Phoenix. It's another discussion, perhaps for another day with the guys from PPP, but these teams are building correctly - they aren't trying to lose (more or less intentionally) by playing known crappy veterans (looking
at you, Utah Jazz, playing Richard Jefferson 40 minutes a night), but are willing to take some lumps with their young guys which does three things.