By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Mar 31 2011 11:50AM
In this NBA.com StatsCube study, StatsCube takes a look at candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Of all the awards the NBA hands out at the end of the season, Defensive Player of the Year is probably the hardest to quantify.
The boxscore is limited when it comes to defensive stats. A bunch of blocks or steals isn't always a good thing. And players do not defend in a vacuum. If a great defender is surrounded by four awful defenders, neither he nor his defensive numbers are going to look very good. In the same manner, good defensive teammates can make a bad defender look better than he actually is.
|Lowest team defensive efficiency, player on floor|
|Minimum 1,000 minutes|
Def. Eff. = Points allowed per 100 possessions
We see evidence of the strength-in-numbers aspect to defense when we look at the league's top 10 defenders, according to team defensive efficiency with them on the floor.
There are five Bulls and three Celtics in the top 10. And if you lowered the minutes minimum to 900, Chicago's Omer Asik (90.7 in 908 minutes) and C.J. Watson (92.0 in 983 minutes) would be the top two.
Chicago (97.1 points allowed per 100 possessions overall) and Boston (97.5) are the two best defensive teams in the league. And while there are guys on the list above that deserve DPOY consideration, their defensive success is more about team principles and mentality than one player's influence.
Still, when you compare his team's defensive efficiency when he's on the floor with it when he's on the bench, Brewer stays at the top of the list.
|Biggest difference, team defensive efficiency, player on floor vs. off floor|
|Minimum 1,000 minutes|
Biggest difference, team defensive efficiency, player on floor vs. off floor
Gregg Popovich has been lamenting his team's defensive inconsistency for most of the season, but the Spurs still have been an excellent defensive team with their anchor on the floor. That bodes well for the playoffs, when Duncan will presumably play a lot more than 28.3 minutes per game. And it also brings Duncan into the picture when we're looking at Defensive Player of the Year candidates.
The Bulls' second unit, with Brewer, Asik (-8.6), Watson (-7.0) and Taj Gibson (-1.6) has been much stronger defensively than its starting lineup. Of the starters, Luol Deng has the best on-off court defensive differential at +0.9.
Derrick Rose has the worst (and second worst in the league among those who've played 1,000 minutes) at +8.1, meaning the Bulls allow 8.1 points per 100 possessions more when Rose is on the floor than they do when he's off. But that's only because they're ridiculously good (90.9) when he's not on the floor. They're still excellent (99.0) when he is.
Interestingly, the Magic have allowed slightly more points per 100 possessions with Dwight Howard on the floor (99.6) than they have with him on the bench (99.3). The same was true when Howard won his first DPOY award two seasons ago (his differential was +1.2), but not last season (-2.9).
One reason for Chicago's and Orlando's better defensive numbers with Rose and Howard on the bench is the quality of the lineups that they're facing. For the most part, when Howard's on the bench, so are the opponent's starters. So Orlando's second unit is defending against weaker offenses.
The Magic are still a very good defensive team, allowing less than a point per possession, with Howard on the floor. And there are other ways to quantify his defense.
|Lowest true shooting percentage allowed vs. top post players|
|TS% = Points / (2*(FGA+(.44*FTA)))|
Players included in calculations: LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, Zach Randolph, Amare Stoudemire, David West
According to StatsCube, no team has been better than the Magic at defending the league's top post players.
Howard is obviously the most impactful interior defender in the league, but the list above also helps the case of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Jason Collins and even Chris Bosh.
If we go back to the first two tables, Bynum ranks 13th, with the Lakers allowing just 98.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and 21st with an on-off court differential of -4.4 Gasol ranks 48th (101.3) and 84th (-0.9) and Bosh ranks 26th (99.6) and 14th (-5.0). Collins has played just 582 minutes, but as we saw against Howard and the Magic on Wednesday, the Hawks have been excellent defensively with him on the floor, allowing just 94.2 points per 100 possessions, which is 11.6 fewer than they allow with him on the bench.
When it comes to defending high-scoring wings, we have five different teams in the top five, with the Spurs are at the top.
|Lowest true shooting percentage allowed vs. top wing players|
|Players included in calculations: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Monta Ellis, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, Stephen Jackson, Joe Johnson, LeBron James, Kevin Martin, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade|
Manu Ginobili's on-court numbers aren't as strong as Duncan's, but he ranks 39th with an on-court mark of 100.5 points allowed per 100 possessions and 13th with an on-off court differential of -5.3. As noted above, the Celtics' defense goes well beyond one player, but they've also been best with their starting unit on the floor. So Pierce definitely deserves some credit.
The Sixers are 10th defensively, and have been much better with Andre Iguodala on the floor (100.8) than with him on the bench (105.2). And if there's a Wing Defensive Player of the Year, Iguodala just might be it.
The Thunder rank 13th defensively and have actually been better with Thabo Sefolosha on the bench (101.3) than with him on the floor (106.0). But Sefolosha (+4.6) spends most of his time on the floor with Russell Westbrook (+6.5) and Kevin Durant (+6.0), who have worse differentials than he does. As a whole (at least until Kendrick Perkins arrived), Oklahoma City's second unit has been much better defensively than their starting lineup, but those starters would probably be much worse off without Sefolosha.
When we look at which teams defend the best point guards, we get some inconclusive results.
|Lowest true shooting percentage allowed vs. top point guards|
|Players included in calculations: Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Raymond Felton, Devin Harris, Steve Nash, Jameer Nelson, Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams|
The top three teams above haven't received consistent minutes from one point guard. Dallas and Phoenix have, but Jason Kidd's All-Defensive Team years are behind him and nobody is going to give Steve Nash much credit for slowing down opposing point guards.
That's just more evidence that there's no easy way to quantify who the league's best defenders are. But by using different methods, we can confirm some of what we see.
Dwight Howard will probably win his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award. And the numbers don't provide much of an argument against him. But they do give us a better idea of what other players deserve consideration.
All-Defensive Team Picks
(On-court def. eff., On-off court differential)
G: Ronnie Brewer (92.6, -8.4), Tony Allen (100.2, -4.4)
F: Andre Iguodala (100.8, -4.4), Kevin Garnett (95.5, -4.9)
C: Dwight Howard (99.6, +0.3)
G: Manu Ginobili (100.5, -5.3), Chris Paul (101.7, -0.1)
F: Tim Duncan (99.0, -7.6), LeBron James (100.0, -4.6)
C: Tyson Chandler (100.9, -3.2)
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