By Tim Kawakami
Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 4:29 pm in NBA.
No surprise: I love the NBA All-Defensive Team. Love the idea, love the voting, love to analyze it and memorize it and oh yes, it just was announced today.
I also think it’s hilarious that Baron Davis got one coach’s vote. I don’t care if it was for eighth team, that just shouldn’t happen. (It wasn’t Don Nelson since coaches can’t vote for their own players.)
But I was thinking more could be done in this fashion. I’m always typing about how good defenders are so important to winning basketball and how Bad Defenders kill you.
Hmm, I thought to myself. How hard would it be to put together a No-Defense NBA All-Star team, just like the All-Defense, except in reverse?
You know, weight it to main players–if you don’t play much and stink on defense, you don’t get much run on this list, just like it works for All-Defense.
Not that hard. I’m very happy with this idea, so let me unveil my First Annual NBA No-Defense All-Star team right now:
* C: EDDY CURRY, New York.
-So much embarrassment in one player. He’s 6-11, yet only had 29 blocked shots in 59 games this year. When he was on the floor, NY opponents scored 117 points per 100 possessions, the highest total I could find for a regular player. When he was out, opponents scored 110.8 per 100–this is all according to 82games.com–a rather significant -6.2 differential. Gargantuan. Embarrassing.
* F: RUDY GAY, Memphis.
-He was the worst defensive player on the worst defensive team in the league (opponents shot an effective FG% of 53.1 when he was on the floor, but only 49.3 when he was off), so this roster spot was automatic. His lackluster effort was just a bonus.
* F/C: AL JEFFERSON, Minnesota.
-Gets a few blocks (1.45 per), which is more than Curry can say, but factoring in his heavy minute total, it’s not that great a total. It’s clear Jefferson saves his energy for offense–Minnesota was a much, much better defensive team when Jefferson was out of the game. Given Jefferson’s offensive skills, he could become a superstar if he just tried a little harder on defense. We’ll see.
* G: MICHAEL REDD, Milwaukee.
-Possibly pound-for-pound, minute-for-minute the worst defensive player in the league on sheer talent and effort. For instance, this year he had 13 blocked shots and 65 steals in 2,702 minutes.
How bad are those numbers? Baron Davis had 43 blocks and 191 steals in 3,196 minutes. Boris Diaw had 39 blocks and 61 steals in 2,308 minutes. Caron Butler had 20 blocks and 128 blocks steals in 2,314 minutes. And none of those guys are ever going to be first-team All-Defenders.
* G: STEVE NASH, Phoenix.
-More on Nash later. The actual pound-for-pound, minute-for-minute worst defender in the NBA, and has been for a few years.
-F Carmelo Anthony, Denver: Worst defensive player on his team, and that’s counting Allen Iverson.
-G Kevin Martin, Sacramento: Always looks like he should be able to play defense, but never plays it.
-F Steve Novak, Houston: My only non-rotation guy on this list–gets here because his defensive statistics are so obscenely bad. Opponents scored 10 more points per 100 possession with him on the floor than off. That’s bad.
-G Monta Ellis, Warriors: Gets the nod here over Baron, even though you know I thought Baron stopped playing defense last February.
Stats hide Ellis’ weaknesses, since he gets steals and takes charges. But he can’t play through picks and even without picks he gets lost constantly. The Warriors almost have to do as much to hide Ellis on defense as Phoenix does with Nash.
-F Richard Jefferson, New Jersey: This one’s a big surprise to me, since he has always been one of my favorite under-rated all-around players. But not this year–the Nets got pummeled when he was on the floor (giving up 111.5 points per 100 possession) and played decently when he was off (giving up 105.8 per 100). That’s a terrible disparity for such a good player. Vince Carter, who shouldn’t be half the defender that Jefferson is, had far better comparables this season.
-G Jason Williams, Miami: Not that he was any more terrible this year than he has always been… Just had to put him on this list for old time’s sake. I’ll be doing this a few more years, I think, but Jason might not be around for them.
—-And now, to the BIG AWARDS.
* No-Defense Player of the Year: STEVE NASH.
-No player forces his team to compensate more dramatically for his defensive deficiencies (and no player is more worth it, obviously–but this is about defense). In the past, Nash has gotten away with his lack of lateral quickness by drawing charges, but he drew 34 offensive fouls this season, down from 62 in 2006-07.
Also in the past, Nash got away with a lot because he had Shawn Marion to defend two or three guys per trip down the floor. Nash didn’t have that at the end of this season.
Former Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni always tried to stash Nash away against the poorest opponent offensive player… the same way Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were stashed… but those guys were big enough to fake it against better players. Nash is 6-3 and plays smaller and is only getting older and slower.
* No-Defense Coach of the Year: MARC IAVARONI, Memphis.
-Opponents almost shot 48% against the Grizzlies and the Grizzly players didn’t look like they cared. Iavaroni just looked befuddled.
* No-Defense Rookie of the Year: KEVIN DURANT, Seattle.
-Not a huge shock, though I strongly considered the Clippers’ Al Thornton, who, in limited time, was just awful on defense. But Durant gets the nod because he played so much, because he could play better defense (those long arms) but because it doesn’t look like he’ll do that at any point in his NBA career. Only 75 blocks in almost 3,000 minutes? Bleah.
Seattle was a terrible defensive team all year, but when Durant was off the floor, the Sonics were actually decent–opponents scored only 104.6 per 100 possessions. When Durant was out there, the flood gates were open–113.4 points per 100.