Today I got into a really good discussion with a super basketball mind about whether or not the adage of defense being inside-out is still accurate. With the proliferation of the 3-pointer, has defense become outside in?
To get a statistical answer to this, I broke the league into three categories: The top 20%, middle 60% and bottom 20%. Then I broke it into three categories: stopping shot attempts in the restricted area, stopping shots from 3-point range overall, and stopping just corner threes. Then I looked at defending the shot (or FG%) from those same three areas.
From there I looked at the combined winning percentage of the teams in the top, middle and bottom of each section.
Watching the Jazz against the Celtics on Monday night was a clear reminder of how important Derrick Favors is to the Jazz defense.
By excluding the 14 games to start the year—when Enes Kanter and Favors started together—and isolating the games the games Favors has started as the center without Kanter and the nine games Kanter has started as the center without Favors, the impact of Derrick becomes lucid.
Favors’ absence has been felt most vividly early in games with paint defense. In the games Favors missed, the Jazz allowed 13.8 points in the paint in the first quarter, contrasting to the games with Favors as the center at 12.4 points in the paint in the first quarter.
In addition, in the games when Favors starts as the center, the Jazz allow 60% shooting in the restricted area in the first quarter. In the nine games Favors was absent, the Jazz allowed 69.5% shooting in the restricted area in the first quarter.
Moving beyond the first quarter into the entire games gets a bit complicated statistically. In games when Favors starts, Kanter gets most of the back-up minutes. Whereas when Kanter starts, Rudy Gobert gets the back-up minutes.
According to the player-tracking data, Rudy Gobert is a very good defender at the rim. Gobert allows only 43.2% on shots within five feet of the rim. Favors allows 51.2% and Kanter allows 53.7%. For game-long data, an argument could be made that Gobert assists the numbers when Favors doesn’t play.
With the aforementioned weakness to this data, it is still revealing in regards to the impact of Favors. In the games Favors started without Kanter, the Jazz have allowed 46.2 points in the paint. In the games Favors didn’t play, they allowed 49.8.
In the restricted area for the entire game when Favors starts without Kanter, the Jazz allow 62.7%. And in games when Favors doesn’t start, it is 64.8%—despite the impact of Rudy getting more minutes.
The biggest number of all, however, is points allowed. In games when Favors starts without Kanter, the Jazz allow 98.6 points per game. In the nine games Favors missed, the Jazz allow 105.3.
Thanks to Bloomberg Sports for this data.
Utah Jazz radio voice and Jazz NBA Insider David Locke gives his Daily Devar, looks at the awful teams of the NBA, and then talks about Alec Burks’ growth and Derrick Favors’ presence.
- It is so nice to have Derrick Favors on the floor. Utah moved to 17-9 when playing a full roster. The Jazz’s rim protection tonight was much better than it has been, but the great thing tonight was that Favors was an offensive force. He hit two mid-range jumpers in the third quarter, and also hit a sick baseline turnaround jumper. This shot has not been falling for Favors—he is just 29% from mid-range this season—but if he can start to knock these down he can become a legitimate offensive player as well as a great defensive player. Favors’ value is real.
- The Jazz did a better job of getting out in the open floor and hitting with some early chances tonight.
- Marvin Williams had awesome energy, both offensively and on defense.
- Hayward plays well with Favors. It’s no surprise that he had 10 assists tonight.
- Corbin changed the rotation tonight and didn’t play Brandon Rush. He also played Kanter and Favors together for short spurts on the floor.
- Burks is playing super basketball. Tonight he defended Rondo when Burke couldn’t get any stops. Burks has always been a good defender on the ball, particularly on the point guard. He’s getting better and better at getting off picks and staying on the ball. He’s getting better at staying with it for entire possessions. These are very important steps in his development. On the offensive side, not every drive is to the basket. Instead, he is finding people on the drive before it is do-or-die time. He is playing under control in a manner that allows his teammates to know where he is going and play off of him. These are very exciting things for Alec. 20 points a game over the last six games is nice, but these other issue are going to change him from a Jerryd Bayless type who doesn’t help you win to a complete player that helps put Ws on the board.
- Jeremy Evans had a career-high four blocks.
- Phil Johnson said on the air tonight that Enes Kanter will become a 3-point shooter in the NBA.
- Solid win. Phoenix is next and then the road trip.
The Utah Jazz radio team reunites for a conversation about Utah’s win, and talk about Favors, Hayward and Burks.
Gordon Hayward, one of Utah’s cornerstone pieces for the future, has hit a tough stretch. Over the past 10 games he is shooting 29.7% from the field and has gone 6-for-34 from 3-point range.
Looking at Gordon’s recent shot chart, a few items jump out. In the restricted area he is 8 for his last 24 after hitting 22 of his previous 35 shots.
Last year, his best shooting spot was the angle-right three. Recently, he has gone just 1-for-11. Prior to that he had gone 8-for-17.
Why does Gordon go through these swings? One of the issues may be how much the Jazz play in the half court.
The Jazz use 43% of their possession in the final eight seconds on the shot clock (via 82games.com). Putting that in perspective, Memphis and Chicago (two of the slowest-paced, most half court heavy teams) only use 42% of their possessions in the final eight seconds of the shot clock.
Throughout the year, Ron Boone has pointed out how terrific Gordon in is in the open floor. However, when he has been trying to make plays in the half court he has struggled.
The numbers bear this out. In fast break situations, Gordon is shooting 70.2% (3.6 ppg) whereas in the half court he is shooting 35.5%.
Recently, the Jazz have been playing slower and slower, and it has impacted Gordon negatively. Through January, Gordon was scoring 4 ppg in the fast break; since then he has dropped to 1.7 ppg in the fast break.
In November, Gordon either shot or assisted on 2.3 fast breaks per game. In December, that increased to 3.3 shots or assists on fast breaks. In 2014, however, the numbers have been on a startling decline. In January, Gordon only contributed a shot or assist on 1.5 fast breaks a game, and then this month it was been down to 1 per game.
Since January, Gordon has played almost exclusively in the half court. Accordingly, the Jazz pace of play has decreased every month of the season.
At Michigan, Trey Burke played one of the slowest-paced games in the NCAA. Michigan was a half court pick and roll team that used every second of the possession. Burke is a spread floor player not a fast break player.
This may also be why Gordon Hayward is the one Jazz player who didn’t get a bump from playing with Trey Burke. Every other Jazz player’s EFG% has taken at least a 5% jump with Burke on the floor (as we discussed in the PODCAST with Kevin Pelton).
For the season, Gordon’s EFG% when Trey is on the floor is 45.6% and when he is off the floor is 42%. However, if you dig deeper and look at Gordon and Trey since Jan. 1 when the fast break began to diminish, it tells a different story. Since Jan. 1, Gordon’s EFG% with Trey on the floor is 45.6% and with him off the floor is 47.6% (via nbawowy.com).
Hopefully it will take just a few open-court opportunities for Gordon to get back on track.