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Thread: Elite NBA defence: Players vs scheme

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Axel's Avatar
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    Default Elite NBA defence: Players vs scheme

    A really good read about the delicate balance of an NBA defence.

    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/th...n-nba-defense/

    Couple of hilights:
    "The deeper mysteries involve defense, where we are still in the early stages of understanding how doing one thing impacts a team’s ability to take away something else — and how all the strategic stuff interacts with a team’s roster makeup. Forcing opponents into missing lots of shots is obviously a good thing. So is coaxing an opponent into taking lots of shots from the dead midrange zone; studies have shown that just limiting the number of corner 3-point attempts correlates more strongly with overall defensive ratings than a lot of traditional measures. The same is true of shots in the restricted area.

    But the “how” of forcing empty trips is where things get fun, and two teams make for especially interesting case studies this season: Minnesota and Portland. Rick Adelman drew some laughs a couple of weeks ago, after another frustrating Minny loss, when he declared, “It almost takes an act of Congress for us to go out and foul somebody. You have to get after people in this league.”

    That’s interesting: a coach calling for more fouls. Aren’t fouls an objectively bad thing? There are exceptions, of course — fouling a terrible free throw shooter, or breaking up a sure fast-break dunk with a hard foul. But it would seem strange for a coach to call for his team to foul more."

    "But wait … the Blazers, despite this fairly healthy shot distribution profile, are not very good at defense. They’re tied for 20th in points allowed per possession. They can pile up all the wins in the world, but they’re not sniffing a championship with a bottom-10 defense. There are a few things behind the struggle, but here’s a big one: The Blazers almost never force turnovers. They simply don’t do the sorts of things that produce turnovers — aggressive help in the passing lanes, frenzied traps, packing the paint to force risky inside-out passes around the horn. Portland has forced turnovers on just 11 percent of opponent possessions, per Basketball-Reference. That would be the third-lowest turnover rate in the history of the league."

    "This makes intuitive sense: If you’re going to allow a ton of shots without fouling or forcing turnovers, you’d better be able to challenge those shots — especially the ones near the basket. It helps if you have a big man scary enough to deter people from approaching the rim in the first place.

    If your team has such a player, its perimeter defenders would be dumb to even risk fouling as an offensive player drives the ball from the 3-point arc toward the basket. Why bail that guy out when he’s heading toward Hibbert Mountain?"

    "The league’s overall turnover rate is on a general long-term decline, though not a particularly huge or continuous one. The number of free throws has dropped more severely, and league higher-ups have kicked around several possible causes — the increase in the number of 3-point attempts (which rarely draw fouls), more zone and zone-style defenses, the rise of “verticality,” and stricter rules about what should and should not constitute a shooting foul."


    The article raises a few Raps questions:

    1) Do we have the right personnel to run our defensive scheme, or is our scheme adjusted to fit our players? Portland seems to not have great defensive players, but are employing the scheme to great team success, albeit not great defensive success.

    2) Is the rim protector position something JV can develop into or should we try and land one? What level of priority is it?

    3) With turn-overs trending down, does the Casey preferred method of playing a slower pace actually help keep the Raps ahead of the curve by emphasizing half court offensive execution?

    4) The Raps have been one of the most foul happy teams since Casey took over (currently 2nd most per game), is this a problem for the team? Is it a result of scheme or personnel (or both)?

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    Raptors Republic All-Star stooley's Avatar
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    God, I love Grantland.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star stooley's Avatar
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    Quote Axel wrote: View Post
    1) Do we have the right personnel to run our defensive scheme, or is our scheme adjusted to fit our players? Portland seems to not have great defensive players, but are employing the scheme to great team success, albeit not great defensive success.

    2) Is the rim protector position something JV can develop into or should we try and land one? What level of priority is it?

    3) With turn-overs trending down, does the Casey preferred method of playing a slower pace actually help keep the Raps ahead of the curve by emphasizing half court offensive execution?

    4) The Raps have been one of the most foul happy teams since Casey took over (currently 2nd most per game), is this a problem for the team? Is it a result of scheme or personnel (or both)?
    Let me give this a shot:

    1) I like our personnel so long as we see some improvement from Jonas. I'm not actually 100% sure what our scheme is.

    2) I think JV can develop into a rim protector. I also think that's a job that almost has to fall to the center, and I don't want to bring JV off the bench.

    3) I don't know... I just wish we had a little more emphasis on the offensive glass. I feel like we often have a single player fighting for the rebound very well. We're able to keep the ball alive, but not get it back.

    4) I think this one's a result of personnel. JV and Ross are young, so foul more. DD isn't great on defense so fouls more, and TH's job is to run into people, so he inevitably gets fouls called against him.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Axel's Avatar
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    Quote stooley wrote: View Post
    Let me give this a shot:

    1) I like our personnel so long as we see some improvement from Jonas. I'm not actually 100% sure what our scheme is.

    2) I think JV can develop into a rim protector. I also think that's a job that almost has to fall to the center, and I don't want to bring JV off the bench.

    3) I don't know... I just wish we had a little more emphasis on the offensive glass. I feel like we often have a single player fighting for the rebound very well. We're able to keep the ball alive, but not get it back.

    4) I think this one's a result of personnel. JV and Ross are young, so foul more. DD isn't great on defense so fouls more, and TH's job is to run into people, so he inevitably gets fouls called against him.
    The first question is really not answerable unless we could sit in practice. Unless someone has been able to glean a schematic change following trades/personnel? I doubt we'll know the answer to this.

    I think you could have a PF fill that role, it just would be more complicated and could present issues elsewhere.

    We lead the league in fouls per game in Casey's first 2 years, so JV and Ross are only a small part of the equation.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star slaw's Avatar
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    1) Do we have the right personnel to run our defensive scheme, or is our scheme adjusted to fit our players? Portland seems to not have great defensive players, but are employing the scheme to great team success, albeit not great defensive success.

    2) Is the rim protector position something JV can develop into or should we try and land one? What level of priority is it?

    3) With turn-overs trending down, does the Casey preferred method of playing a slower pace actually help keep the Raps ahead of the curve by emphasizing half court offensive execution?

    4) The Raps have been one of the most foul happy teams since Casey took over (currently 2nd most per game), is this a problem for the team? Is it a result of scheme or personnel (or both)?
    1) Schemes are always adjusted depending on personnel. Or at least they should be. It's hard to complain about the defense given the overall numbers in Toronto.

    2) JV's defensive issues have puzzled me this year. At first, I thought it might be a scheme-related issue or poor perimeter defense (and there is some of that from time to time) but he continues to have difficulties on the defensive end. I don't think that he's going to be Bill Russell at the rim but there is no reason he can't develop into a presence back there.

    3) Not sure I understand the connection here. What I will say is that halfcourt execution is paramount in the playoffs, so the Raps won't have to adjust their style of play that much.

    4) It seems like it's less of an issue this year than the past couple but this team still fouls too much. The issue here is not just whether fouling helps a defense (that seems objectively odd to me) but the fact that if your best players are constantly fouling then they aren't on the floor to score and do the other things you need to do to win.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Axel's Avatar
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    Quote slaw wrote: View Post
    3) Not sure I understand the connection here. What I will say is that halfcourt execution is paramount in the playoffs, so the Raps won't have to adjust their style of play that much.

    4) It seems like it's less of an issue this year than the past couple but this team still fouls too much. The issue here is not just whether fouling helps a defense (that seems objectively odd to me) but the fact that if your best players are constantly fouling then they aren't on the floor to score and do the other things you need to do to win.
    Turnovers have been decreasing league-wide for a few years now. Fewer turn-overs mean fewer transitional opportunities. Teams that rely on scoring in transition are likely going to struggle even more. With the Raps personnel, they seem an ideal team to play a fast pace (Lowry, DD, Ross, Amir/Pat, and JV can all run the floor) but have played a slow pace (I think they are 22nd this year) under Casey; that could be a benefit to the team if this trend continues and teams adjust.

    Our fouling rate has basically been 22 per game under Casey. League ranks 1st, 1st and currently 2nd.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star slaw's Avatar
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    Quote Axel wrote: View Post
    Our fouling rate has basically been 22 per game under Casey. League ranks 1st, 1st and currently 2nd.
    My comment was simply that it seems to be less of an issue. My thought behind that comment is that the defense overall is much better so, while they may be fouling at the same rate, it hasn't been as material to their success (or lack thereof) as it seemed to be last year.

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    I know it's often said, but I really think JV will become a defensive force, but it will take some time.
    As an Australian I have followed Andrew Bogut's career closely and when he came into the league he wasn't anything special defensively.. couldn't even really block a shot. After six years in the league, he lead the league in blocked shots, and today he's way up there in all the advanced defensive stats and is really elite at rim protection. JV has all the physical tools to be really good, just a question of if/when he can learn all the positioning and other basketball IQ related stuff that the likes of Hibbert, Gasol and Bogut etc have.

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    1. Casey's defense has many facets to it, including changing the coverages up often and keeping offenses off balance. It's why you see him employ zone at sometimes odd times, and his zone-man hybrid. The personal is fine, as long as the effort and focus is there, which isn't always the case, but it's clear in front of our eyes what happens when the personnel get serious. Portland's success is despite their defense, which is among the absolute worst in the league, so employing whatever scheme they have has nothing to do with their success, but everything to do with outscoring everyone. Perhaps a reason why they're struggling against good teams lately?

    2. I think JV has much to learn and develop, but will become a serious rim protector. In the meantime, he really needs Amir's help though.

    3. Emphasizing half court execution will be necessary come playoff time, when the best teams employ a slower pace and focus on defense.
    "stooley": The raps are actually 8th in the league in offensive rebounds. The thing is, it's a delicate balance between chasing offensive rebounds and getting back on defense. Chasing them leads to getting burned on the other end too often. Note that last year's finalists (Heat, Spurs) are at the very bottom of O Rebounding averages, where as most teams at the top of the averages are the bottom feeders.

    4. Both, +. Play hard, reduce freebies at the rim, lack of finesse that will come with experience. Jonas getting better will have a huge effect. PLUS, I'll forever be convinced refs are not kind to the good guys.

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    RE JV, my sense is that Casey wants him to be a Tyson Chandler clone circa the Maverick days (and even as a NYK). TC is a very active and quick big man who harasses the ball carrier as far out as the perimeter and then reverses back to the rim area. JV does this too. At this point in JV's physical maturation this style is tiring him out...even more so because he is (more than TC) expected to be part of the offensive sets. This style may well have worked prior to all the weight gain last summer but that has even hampered his shooting (his lowered FT% is telling) and lift. Making JV a more under the basket protector will I believe help his development....and the team.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Axel's Avatar
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    Quote salmon wrote: View Post
    1. Casey's defense has many facets to it, including changing the coverages up often and keeping offenses off balance. It's why you see him employ zone at sometimes odd times, and his zone-man hybrid. The personal is fine, as long as the effort and focus is there, which isn't always the case, but it's clear in front of our eyes what happens when the personnel get serious. Portland's success is despite their defense, which is among the absolute worst in the league, so employing whatever scheme they have has nothing to do with their success, but everything to do with outscoring everyone. Perhaps a reason why they're struggling against good teams lately?
    I didn't mean to suggest that we emulate Portland, but rather they are an example of a successful scheme that fails due to the wrong personnel. They are basically using the same scheme as the Spurs and Wolves, but because they don't have the right players, they can't create enough pressure with the scheme, so they fail out with it. Add a player like Corey Brewer or Kwahi Leonard, and the Blazers D likely improves fairly significantly.

    I think it is very likely why they struggle against the top teams.

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    Casey likes his bigs to be aggressive on PnR. Amir and Patterson are the most aggressive because of their mobility. Tyler and Hayes less aggressive for obvious reasons. They are not Miami level aggressive but are more aggressive than most teams in the league even with their slower bigs.

    Portland played a similar style last year. Terry Stotts was an assistant in Dallas with Casey and brought that style with him to Portland. But this year they have changed to a more conservative PnR defense similar to Chicago and Indiana.

    http://www.blazersedge.com/2013/11/2...d-roll-defense

    Last year, Portland ran a pick-and-roll defense that hedged high and hard on screens. It was a typical help-and-recover that forced the post player to guard the ball handler from turning the corner on the pick and driving to the lane. LaMarcus Aldridge proved confident and mobile enough in the system, but the weak point was JJ Hickson.
    With Hickson gone, Terry Stotts has re-tooled the Portland pick-and-roll defense and adopted a new approach, a soft ICE defense. It is a system used by top defensive teams like Chicago and Indiana, especially when the pick-and-roll involves their large, less-agile centers. Last year in New Orleans, Monty Williams employed the same approach in pick plays defended by Portland's new starting center, Robin Lopez.

    The basic strategy is fairly simple. Instead of switching or hedging, the defending guard will try to fight over the top of every screen. As they fight over the screen, they put backside pressure on the ball handler and make quick three-pointers uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the post defender sags back, usually around the free throw line, with the intent to guard the lane and prevent penetration.
    Here are a few more articles about defense.

    Doug Eberhardt from SBNation

    What is the Nail? The key to help defense
    http://www.sbnation.com/2013/12/19/5...l-spurs-pacers

    The concept of 'two nine,' or how big men patrol the paint
    http://www.sbnation.com/2014/1/9/529...deandre-jordan

    What does it mean to 'blue' a pick and roll?
    http://www.sbnation.com/2014/1/16/53...phis-grizzlies


    Mike Prada from SBNation

    Meet the Oklahoma City Thunder's suffocating defense
    http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/2/5...n-kevin-durant

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    Quote bobbybutler wrote: View Post
    Casey likes his bigs to be aggressive on PnR. Amir and Patterson are the most aggressive because of their mobility. Tyler and Hayes less aggressive for obvious reasons. They are not Miami level aggressive but are more aggressive than most teams in the league even with their slower bigs.

    Portland played a similar style last year. Terry Stotts was an assistant in Dallas with Casey and brought that style with him to Portland. But this year they have changed to a more conservative PnR defense similar to Chicago and Indiana.

    http://www.blazersedge.com/2013/11/2...d-roll-defense

    The basic strategy is fairly simple. Instead of switching or hedging, the defending guard will try to fight over the top of every screen. As they fight over the screen, they put backside pressure on the ball handler and make quick three-pointers uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the post defender sags back, usually around the free throw line, with the intent to guard the lane and prevent penetration.
    The bold is a great simple explanation of the basic premise talked about in the article. Takes away the 3 and protects the paint, leaving the mid-range jumper (with back pressure) as the primary scoring option.

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    What if JV slid to the 4 and we get a guy like Chandler in 2015? :O Say JV never becomes that anchor..

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    Quote Axel wrote: View Post
    The article raises a few Raps questions:

    1) Do we have the right personnel to run our defensive scheme, or is our scheme adjusted to fit our players? Portland seems to not have great defensive players, but are employing the scheme to great team success, albeit not great defensive success.

    2) Is the rim protector position something JV can develop into or should we try and land one? What level of priority is it?

    3) With turn-overs trending down, does the Casey preferred method of playing a slower pace actually help keep the Raps ahead of the curve by emphasizing half court offensive execution?

    4) The Raps have been one of the most foul happy teams since Casey took over (currently 2nd most per game), is this a problem for the team? Is it a result of scheme or personnel (or both)?
    1-Yes and Yes. If the Raptors replaced Amir or Patterson with Monroe they would change their PnR defense and be more conservative. Thats why the Raptors are not getting Monroe, he would change this teams identity on defense.

    2-Yes he can. Rim Protection is essential to winning a champiosnhip. Getting a rim protector is a priority for every GM.

    4-Scheme.
    Last edited by bobbybutler; Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 01:26 PM.

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    Quote stooley wrote: View Post
    TH's job is to run into people, so he inevitably gets fouls called against him.
    Oh PhyscoT, you either really love him, or really hate him

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    Quote slaw wrote: View Post
    My comment was simply that it seems to be less of an issue. My thought behind that comment is that the defense overall is much better so, while they may be fouling at the same rate, it hasn't been as material to their success (or lack thereof) as it seemed to be last year.
    Exactly. If the objective is better D -done. If that means more fouls, so be it (as long as at the end of the game opponents score is lower than ours.
    Look at it this way: What does improved D mean:
    -You box out more "forcefully" (sometimes they call a foul on TH);
    -We take a lot of charges ins of "stepping away" (sometimes refs call a foul on Kyle rather than a charge);
    -Fight through screens (higher chance of foul being called).
    All the extra "aggressiveness" forces TOs, more difficult shots, less rebounds for other team & yes more personal fouls.
    I guess you could say "a cost of doing business".

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