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 have 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 IMPROVEMENT CASE STUDY #4 – 2000-01 Dallas Mavericks
DEFENSIVE CHANGE: In 1999-2000 they allowed 107.2 pts per 100 possessions (24th) then in 2000-01 they allowed 102.6 pts (13th) per 100 possessions.
INSIDE THE FOUR FACTORS: In 1999-2000 they were 21st in EFG% and improved to 12th, they were 14th in forcing turnovers and stayed the same , they were 29th in defensive rebounding % and improved to 23rd and were 8th in fouling actually fouled more.
PLAYER MOVEMENT: The 1999-2000 team started Erick Strickland and Steve Nash at the point, a litany of shooting guards, Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Bradley at center for the majority of the season, the next year Nash became the full time point guard, a wide range of shooting guards again and Finley, Nowitzki with Bradley, Laetnner and Juwan Howard as the center.
COACHING: Don Nelson no changes
CONCLUSION: This is really a bizarre turn of events because after the improvement the Mavericks from 107.2 to 102.6 they revert back the next year returning to 25th in the NBA defensively only to bounce back the next year and improve again to 9th in the NBA. This may only be explained by the coaching of Don Nelson. Shaun Bradley could be a part of this. Shaun Bradley was on these teams but his minutes didn’t seem to impact where the defense finished. This is the outlier of all the case studies thus far