Fun with Numbers: Defensive On/Off Court Data
A few weeks ago I wrote a piece in which I took a deeper look at the “defense” of Andre Miller
. In the process of writing that piece I happened to check the on/off court splits for Miller according to 82games.com.
What I found surprised me to say the least. The Nuggets were actually better defensively with the walking, lazy Miller on the floor.
After I saw that I decided to take a look at every player in the league that played a significant amount of minutes for a team this season and see what fun the numbers would show.
What follows are the nuggets of information I found. Some are good, some are bad, some make sense and others make no sense at all.
As with all stats these numbers don’t tell the entire story, just a piece of it. But like all stats there is some fun to be had.
151 players posted positive differentials this season per 100 possessions (their teams gave up less points per 100 possessions this season with them on the floor than off), with those differentials ranging from 9.7 to 0.1 points.
Yet when I sorted the list by who had the best numbers I could not believe the name that came out on top.
No, you did not just misread that name. It was in fact the Candy Man who posted the best numbers for this past season at an amazing 9.7 points per 100 possessions better.
It makes almost no sense at all as Odom started the season fat and out of shape and has never really been known as a defensive savant but somehow he did very well this season for the Clippers.
Rounding out the top 5 were Mike Conley at 8.8, Brandon Knight at 8.7, Enes Kanter at 8.2, and Tony Allen at 8.
Unlike the top player on the list the bottom player is one that won’t surprise a ton of people.
Al Jefferson made the Jazz ten points worse per 100 possessions he was on the floor defensively. It makes some sense considering he would typically be replaced by a much better defender in Derrick Favors or Kanter but ten points is a huge amount and adds to plenty of the other criticisms of his defense out there.
The other members of the bottom five include Brandon Jennings at -9.2, Quincy Pondexter at -8.8, Jerryd Bayless at -8.6, and Ryan Anderson and John Jenkins tying at -7.3.
The Other Stuff:
A few of the most surprising results I found were:
Chris Paul had a -5.4 points per 100 possession difference. I know that Eric Bledsoe was very much an impact defender off the bench but the number being so high for Paul startled me.
Luol Deng had a -3.5 points per 100 possession difference which was another surprising result for someone who is rightfully known as such a good defender.
Kyle Korver finished basically equal with LeBron James as the Hawks were a positive 3.9 with the Heat 3.8 points per 100 possessions better with those two on the floor then off it.
And finally some more interesting or funny things that I found:
Kevin Garnett, LARRY SANDERS! and Dwight Howard finished consecutively with Garnett leading the pack with a positive 6.9, followed by SANDERS! 6.7, and Howard at 6.6.
But my favorite random coincidence was the consecutive order of three other players on the negative side.
Kobe Bryant, Monta Ellis and Antawn Jamison all finished at -3.2 points per 100 possessions worse on the floor than off it. For players that get called out for their ball watching to land with the exact same number was something I found pretty funny. In fact the only way it could have been better would have been if Andre Miller fell at that number as well.
All in all most players’ numbers fell around where I would have guessed. Guys with reputations as good individual or team defenders found their team better when they were on the floor and guys with bad reputations often posted negative numbers. But like with most things there were a few surprises and funny coincidences, and for those the entire process of tracking the information down was worth it.