INSIDER – DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT CASE STUDY #2 – 2001-02 New Jersey Nets

The final 4 teams left in the Western Conference this year were the 4 best teams in the West in effective field goal % defense. ( Weighs three point shooting.) The top 5 defensive teams all made it to the round of 8 and the New York Knicks were the only team to make the Final 8 with a defense below the top 15 in the NBA. You must play defense to win in the NBA.

For the last three seasons, the Utah Jazz has finished ranked 23rd, 19th and 21st defensively in the NBA. If the Jazz are competing with the best in the NBA they must become a better defensive team.

Last year the Jazz allowed 104.7 pts per 100 possessions. To move into the top 15 the Jazz would need to allow 103.0 and to move into the top 10 they would need to allow 101 pts per 100 possessions.

Therefore, I reviewed the last 20 plus years of NBA stats and found the 16 teams to have made a substantial (about 5 pts per 100 possessions) defensive jump from one year to the next. Over the next few weeks I will look at those 16 teams to see what made their defensive jump possible.

Note: I have not included any lockout shortened seasons.

DEFENSIVE IMPORVEMENT CASE STUDY #2 – NEW JERSEY NETS 2001-02

DEFENSIVE CHANGE: 105.5 Pts per 100 possessions (23rd) in 2000-01 and in 2001-02 allowed 99.5 pts per 100 possessions (1st)

INSIDE THE FOUR FACTORS: were 24th in EFG% became 4th best; were 7th at forcing turnovers became 3rd, 25th in defensive rebounding became 13th and were 27th in fouling became 10th.

PLAYER MOVEMENT: The 00-01 team started Stephon Marbury, Kenyon Martin as a rookie, Evan Eschmeyer with Lucious Harris and Keith VanHorn. In the off-season they traded Marbury for Jason Kidd. Changed their center to Todd MacCulloch and Jason Collins. Kerry Kittles a much longer two replaced Lucious Harris with Harris moving off the bench.

COACHING: Bryon Scott was in his second year as the head coach of the nets. Other coaches on staff were Lawrence Frank, Eddie Jordan and Mike O’Koren

CONCLUSION: Kidd finished #2 in MVP voting. Kidd similar to case study #1 with Kevin Garnett changed the culture of the franchise. Interesting that a change at point guard can have this impact. Kidd’s rebounding as a guard was a large reason for move from 25th to 13th in defensive rebounding. Kidd grabbed 6 defensive rebounds a game. This team was only 17th in the NBA offensively. They went to the NBA finals solely based on their defense. The move from Marbury to Kidd is similar to the Jefferson to Garnett in our first two case studies.