ESPN: (STAT FREAK) Hollinger's NBA All-Defensive team

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 7 years ago '07        #1
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ESPN: (STAT FREAK) Hollinger's NBA All-Defensive team
 

 

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 NBA: Hollinger's All-Defensive team - ESPN

So many players, so few spots.

The temptation is to think that there are few good defenders in the league these days, and thus that it's tough to come up with enough reasonable candidates for the All-Defensive team. Then I started filling in names at each position. Suffice it to say that's not the case. Even culling names for my honorable mention list proved to be a difficult proposition. As longtime readers know, I've been doing my All-Defensive team at this time of the season for the past several years, and it's again time for the nominations. Note that in the real world, the writers don't decide who makes it. Instead, the league's coaches cast the ballots (allegedly, anyway -- looking at recent votes, it's pretty easy to conclude at least a few coaches were "outsourcing") after the season.

As usual, I'm doing three teams and then honorable mentions. Additionally, I've included the players' defensive on-off differential from basketballvalue.com; I used this information as an aid, but relied more on my subjective estimation from watching all these teams this season. I saw nearly all these players in person on multiple occasions, with just a couple of exceptions, and of course have seen all of them on the tube countless times. (Actually, I do count -- I've seen every team play start to finish at least 10 times). Finally, another note: Defense is hazy. We don't have as many facts to work with and the ones we do have aren't as clear-cut. Opinions can and will vary widely, and I expect you'll disagree with at least one or two choices below. Someday, hopefully, we can talk about this end of the floor with a bit more clarity. For now, it's mostly subjective. And subjectively, here are my envelopes:

Point guard

Honorable mention: A few younger guys caught my attention this year and could move up the list in the future. New Jersey's Ben Uzoh (minus-5.10) hardly played, but when he did his ball pressure and intensity were a welcome change from the more laissez-faire D we're used to seeing from the Nets. Across the Hudson, one similarly got the feeling that Toney Douglas (minus-5.10) was the only guy on the team who worried much about stopping the opponent, although his ball pressure was too aggressive at times and opened him up to drives. The Clippers' Eric Bledsoe (minus-0.64) is another one to watch due to his quickness, size and toughness.

Among the older crowd, San Antonio's George Hill (minus-0.63) and Tony Parker (minus-3.38) remained a solid duo, especially given Hill's ability to check many 2s. But two veteran backups were even stronger revelations this year. In Utah, Earl Watson (minus-4.05) was the key to the defensive might of the Jazz's second unit in the first half of the season, continuing a career-long string of spectacular plus-minus numbers. And in Charlotte, Shaun Livingston's (minus-7.51) quiet comeback season was most notable for the way his length and hoops IQ shut off lanes for opponents.

Third team: Rajon Rondo, Boston (plus-3.24). It's hard leaving him out of the top two when he's the unquestioned top dog at this position when he's at the top of his game. Rondo made it easier this year with some uneven, distracted performances, however, and he still gambles too much. Nonetheless, he's an incredible force with his length, nose for the ball and instincts.

Second team: Chris Paul, New Orleans (minus-1.54). The amazing thing is not that Paul will lead the league in steals, but that he'll do it while hardly ever gambling. Throw in a sky-high hoops IQ and a toughness that allows him to hold his own when bigger guards try to back him down, and the only missing bullet point in Paul's résumé is the length to challenge shots.

First team: Kyle Lowry, Houston (minus-7.79). Lowry may be the single most underrated player in basketball right now, and unfortunately we're only going to get to see him for seven more days since it appears the Rockets will miss the playoffs. Quick, tough as nails, with a great nose for the ball and impressive strength against bigger players, Lowry's enormous differential came with a wide variety of different lineup combos throughout the year, making it about as pure a rating as you could hope for.

Shooting guard

Honorable mention: I can come up with three young guys to watch closely at this position, too. Portland's Wesley Matthews (plus-0.43) is as tough as they come and played much of the year on a bad wheel, making his solid defensive work even more impressive. Charlotte's Gerald Henderson (minus-1.12) is another who could crack the top three at this position in another year or two; he's on the short side, but athletic, strong and has a defensive mentality. And I'm not sure why New York and Minnesota were so quick to give up on him, but Corey Brewer (minus-1.31) was third in the league in steals per minute and competently handles his business in one-on-one situations.

Among the older crowd, Kobe Bryant (plus-2.46) picks his spots these days, but knows when to turn up the juice and can be positively suffocating in high-leverage situations. And Manu Ginobili (minus-5.73) does much more than just creatively embellish contact; he has some of the league's quickest hands and goes as hard on defense as offense.

Third team: Dwyane Wade, Miami (plus-1.99). Wade's differential isn't as good as LeBron's, but he more often had to play the stopper role, and the Heat's team results testify to the quality of his work. Miami ranked fifth in defensive efficiency despite not getting much help from the frontcourt or bench, because its two superstar wings committed as much to getting stops as getting buckets.

Second team: Ronnie Brewer, Chicago (minus-8.04). He's still not a shutdown one-on-one defender in the classic sense, but he improved drastically in this area with the Bulls after largely failing as a defensive stopper in Utah. The real a.sset Brewer brings, however, is his spectacular nose for the ball; Brewer is fourth in the league in steals per minute despite playing in a heavily structured defensive system that discourages gambling. Combining the two, he was one of the major reasons the Bulls' bench had such a monstrous defensive impact this year.

First team: Tony Allen, Memphis (minus-7.2). The unofficial League Pass Player of the Year, Allen is a rarity -- a player who is a must-watch strictly for his defense. Individually, obviously, he was a total monster, including the single best defensive possession I saw all season in a game against Oklahoma City -- he had two deflections and a blocked shot at the rim on one trip, and the amazing part is that he'd rotated outside the 3-point line between each. But the most incredible part has been Allen's contagious impact on the Grizzlies, a team that didn't give a hoot about defense a year ago but has emerged as a top-10 club in 2010-11. Shockingly, Allen has started only 29 games; if his coach hadn't forgotten he was on the team for half the season, Allen would have a very strong case for Defensive Player of the Year.

Small forward

We had an abundance of riches to choose from at small forward, but let me start quickly with the kids. Dominic McGuire (minus-3.77) of Charlotte is a good enough defender that he might be able to stick as a rotation player in spite of his consistently dreadful offense. Wilson Chandler (minus-4.04) was solid in New York, and good enough after the trade to Denver that you wondered why the Knicks didn't get more out of his skills. Nonetheless, this is one spot where vets dominated. Boston's Marquis Daniels (plus-1.10) did vastly underrated work before an unfortunate season-ending injury. Memphis' Rudy Gay (minus-2.6) never seemed to care much for defense before, but he surprised me with his intensity and general competence this year; certainly, the physical skills are there to be an elite defender.

The numbers for Portland's Gerald Wallace (minus-1.77) are even more impressive when you consider that the other starters in Charlotte, where he spent most of the year, all had badly negative adjusted plus-minus at the defensive end. Phoenix is pushing Grant Hill (minus-0.66) for All-Defensive honors, and certainly what he's done at 38 has been amazing. But at this end of the floor, there's a huge difference between "really good for a Sun" and "really good." I'm sort of amazed that I don't have room for Chicago's Luol Deng (minus-1.07), who was very strong both as an individual and a team defender, or for the Lakers' Ron Artest (minus-2.13), who may have lost a step but remains impossible to post up and a ball hawking bulldog, or for the Hornets' Trevor Ariza (plus-2.38), whose infusion of athleticism played a major role in upgrading the D in Nawlins. Yet I can't put them ahead of these three players:

Third team: Paul Pierce, Boston (minus-3.43). Pierce's offense gets all the press, but he may be the league's most underrated defender. Strong, tough, surprisingly quick laterally and totally dialed in at all times, it's rare to see such a high scorer so consistently committed to this end of the floor, and it shows in Boston's elite defensive results.

Second team: LeBron James, Miami (minus-4.93). James isn't as consistently intense as Pierce is, but because of his obscenely high talent level he doesn't need to be. Certainly, he's shown a high level of commitment to the D; we saw fewer spectacular chasedown blocks this year but healthy doses of consistent, focused half-court defending. Throw in his rebounding, his transition speed and the fact no opponent even thinks about posting him up, and it's another elite-level category for James.

First team: Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia (minus-4.12). The stopper on a Philly team that isn't exactly flooded with great defenders at the moment, Iguodala kept up the defensive focus that made him such a valued performer for Team USA this past summer. The Sixers have made dramatic improvement overall, from 23rd a year ago to eighth this season, and while Doug Collins' schemes get much of the credit, that stuff all works much better when there's an Iguodala to check the opposition's top scorer every night.

CONTINUED...


Last edited by deemoney23; 04-06-2011 at 03:02 PM..

35 comments for "ESPN: (STAT FREAK) Hollinger's NBA All-Defensive team"

 7 years ago '07        #2
deemoney23 15 heat pts15 OP
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Power forward

Let's start with the up-and-comers again. Ekpe Udoh (minus-9.10) of Golden State can't score, or rebound, or even catch the ball, but one thing he absolutely can do is stay in front of people. The adjusted plus-minus numbers probably overstate his impact because he's being compared to a series of dreadful defenders, but his length and mobility for a player of his size will keep him in the league a long time. Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (plus-0.17) is starting to get it, but at the moment he still relies too much on his freakish athleticism and not enough on fundamentals to crack the top three. Now, the vets. The way teams play these days mobility at the 4 is more important than might. In a related story, Dirk Nowitzki (minus-5.33) may have had his best defensive season. With the Tyson Chandler-Erick Dampier combo saving him from physically overwhelming stints at the 5, Dirk showed his other skills -- length, decent feet, smarts and a great strip move against post players. Atlanta's Josh Smith (minus-5.36) can still fade in and out with his intensity, but his shot-blocking and mobility in switches make him an indispensable defender for the Hawks. Boston's Glen Davis (plus-1.82) revels in the joys of taking charges and has surprisingly nimble feet for a man so large, but a short reach inhibits his overall impact. And while Milwaukee's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (minus-0.71) is a shutdown defender at any position, I find his work much more impactful at the 3; sadly, his limited offensive skills prevent his playing there much.

Third team: Kenyon Martin, Denver (minus-2.89). It's no surprise that the Nuggets' defensive results started improving dramatically once K-Mart got healthy; it's easy to forget that the Melo trade came just as Martin was rounding into peak form. He's retained a surprising chunk of his athleticism for a player with so many knee problems, and his warrior mentality enables him to successfully guard much bigger players at the power forward spot. He's nimble enough to check wing players, and I don't mean on switches either -- Denver sometimes matches up that way intentionally. While I can't put him higher than third given the time he missed, his impact has been underrated.

Second team: Taj Gibson, Chicago (minus-1.59). It's rare for a second-year player to move this far up the list in the frontcourt, but Gibson has shown as both a starter and a reserve that he can impact games with his length and mobility. I'm particularly fond of the Gibson-Omer Asik pairing off Chicago's bench; opponents simply don't score any points when those two are manning the frontcourt together. Gibson is the prototype 4 for the way the game is played today -- he can pick up guards on switches, he can challenge shots on the perimeter, but he has just enough size to defend the rim and hold his own against post-ups.

First team: Kevin Garnett, Boston (minus-5.83). The power forward crop doesn't overwhelm with top-tier candidates this year, but Garnett is a glaring exception. Even if his own numbers weren't off the charts -- for a team that's already great defensively -- one would have to consider KG for the way his manic intensity rubs off on the rest of the team. Throw in his renewed vigor after struggling with bad knees a year ago, and he's a no-brainer first-team pick.

Center

Honorable mention: As always, this position overwhelms with qualified candidates. Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins (minus-4.37) might be the best low-post defender in basketball, but misses the cut because his shot-blocking and rotating aren't quite on par with some of his insanely talented colleagues at the 5. Indiana's Jeff Foster (minus-2.84) can't do it for long anymore, but few players of his size are quicker laterally. One who might be is Denver's Nene (minus-2.20). His quickness for his size makes him an elite pick-and-roll defender, but he can't jump and picks up too many touch fouls. And the list goes on. Houston's Chuck Hayes (minus-2.26) is great for 6-foot-6, but as with Grant Hill we can't grade on a curve. Cleveland's Anderson Varejao (minus-3.64) is awesome but played only 31 games. The plus-minus stats of the Thunder's Nick Collison (minus-5.70) are once again too dramatic to ignore, as is his penchant for drawing charges.

More snubs? We got 'em. Sacramento's Samuel Dalembert (minus-1.40) had some spectacular games defending scorers in the low post. Chicago's Joakim Noah (plus-4.57) has a bad plus-minus because equally great defenders came in the game behind him. Tyson Chandler (minus-3.67)? No, didn't even have room for him, despite the undeniable impact he's made in the middle for this Dallas team. And you know it's crowded when I can't even find room for my guy, my favorite defender to watch in the whole league -- unheralded Bulls rookie Omer Asik (minus-10.49), and yes, that says minus 10. Watch this kid play D during the postseason. He's going to be in the top two at this position before long.

Third team: Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee (minus-2.86). His elbow woes stopped Bogut from achieving as much as he hoped offensively, but he's still solid gold on D. Milwaukee landed fourth in defensive efficiency largely because of his work as a backstop, with Bogut both leading the league in blocks and supplementing it with a ton of charges and strong work controlling the glass.

Second team: Andrew Bynum, L.A. Lakers (minus-3.71). I'm a little skittish about ranking him so highly for what is basically half a season of work, but Bynum has been so good in the second half of the season that it's hard to put him any lower. He moves surprisingly well for a player of such immense size and has great timing for blocks, but it's the shots he doesn't block that have just as much impact -- so much that J.A. Adande is tracking them during Lakers games. His injuries actually make it easier to see his impact, because the Lakers immediately morph into a Phoenixy, offense-first type of team any time he checks out -- and revert to playing championship-caliber D when he comes back.

First team and Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard, Orlando (minus-1.22). Orland is third in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Think about this for a second. They have one good defensive player in their top eight. One. Of the top eight players for Orlando by minutes, the other seven are Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Brandon Bass, J.J. Red!ck, Ryan Anderson and Gilbert Arenas; two of them are average, two aspire to be average on their good days and the other three are just flat-out awful. For that group, somehow, to be better defensively than the Lakers, Heat, Spurs and Mavs, among others, defies all common sense. Yet it's happening, partly because Stan Van Gundy has a strong team concept, but mostly because they have a flyswatter in the middle who is the first guy back in transition, totally dominates the glass and lets everyone else on his team play half a step closer to their man. Howard backs up his case with more traditional stats -- the blocks and rebounds, the solid differential -- but the greatest case he has comes from scrolling through the other names on the roster, and pondering how on earth that adds up to an elite defensive team.


Last edited by deemoney23; 04-06-2011 at 03:02 PM..
 7 years ago '10        #3
Blkboipurp 
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Toney douglas actually getting noticed
 7 years ago '07        #4
Captain Fresh 8 heat pts
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nice seeing tony getting the first team love.
 7 years ago '07        #5
deemoney23 15 heat pts15 OP
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 Captain Fresh said:
nice seeing tony getting the first team love.
I told n*ggaz a couple of weeks ago, Allen's the best perimeter defender in the league Don't believe, rewatch the 2010 NBA Finals and the job he did on the almighty Kobe.


Last edited by deemoney23; 04-06-2011 at 02:17 PM..
 7 years ago '08        #6
Dunknown24 34 heat pts34
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Shout out to Ekpe Udoh
 7 years ago '04        #7
A.G 27 heat pts27
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.. Not bad..
 7 years ago '04        #8
yaleRULES 11 heat pts11
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 deemoney23 said:
I told n*ggaz a couple of weeks ago, he's the best perimeter defender in the league Don't believe, rewatch the 2010 NBA Finals and the job he did on the almighty Kobe.
Huh??

Edit: ohhh you mean Tony Allen. Thought you meant either Parker or Toney Douglas haha
 7 years ago '10        #9
FrankAndBeans 27 heat pts27
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No Carmelo? This list is wack.
 7 years ago '07        #10
JamcnPrettyboy 96 heat pts96
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hope iggy makes the official defense first team list


 FrankAndBeans said:
No Carmelo? This list is wack.


Last edited by JamcnPrettyboy; 04-06-2011 at 02:22 PM..
 7 years ago '10        #11
Marcus Aurelius 49 heat pts49
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Kyle Lowry :agreement6:
 7 years ago '05        #12
Garnet & Gold 42 heat pts42
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Hollinger is an idiot.
 7 years ago '09        #13
TriniSoldier 64 heat pts64
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tony allen is a beast on defense, the fact that he's getitng better on offense only raises his stock even higher. lowry is a bulldog but that was a surprise to me, rondo gettin his love yes yes, kg gettin his love yes yes, paul pierce gettin his love as well, yes yes.

 7 years ago '09        #14
ReggieA 196 heat pts196
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I like the fact defense is getting recognized and not star power like it has been.
 7 years ago '06        #15
daffysm 
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lebron still getting D honors based on...talent???
 7 years ago '06        #16
swoosh363 1 heat pts
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bulls gettin some love on this list
 04-06-2011, 03:04 PM         #17
sputomalato 
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 FrankAndBeans said:
No Carmelo? This list is wack.


Good to see three Celtics in there. Wish TA hadn't left Boston :sad5:

Iggy a better SF defender than LeBron and Pierce?

Bulls vs Celtics tomorrow is gonna be good to see who has the better team defense at the moment.
 04-06-2011, 05:29 PM         #18
rd Meth 
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 super vILLain said:
Kyle Lowry :agreement6:
ma n*gga
 7 years ago '08        #19
Dee Grande 1269 heat pts1269
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damn. can i get a list?
 7 years ago '04        #20
notoriousthugzz 41 heat pts41
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:applause: at iggy getting some shine
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