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Thread: Where's the D? -- Sources of Defensive Issues

  1. #1

    Where's the D? -- Sources of Defensive Issues

    I decided over the weekend to go ahead and do a deep dive into the Pelicans' defensive woes to sort out fact from fiction. And those struggles are unfortunately fact. As of the morning of 12/20, the Pels are 27th in the NBA in DRTG at 110.6, 28th in Defensive Efficiency at 1.076, and just generally not getting it done.

    A lot of reasons had been suggested, some seemingly quite plausible, others less so. I took a look at many of them, broke them into 3 categories as biggest problems, problems with less direct correlation to bad defense, and then things that did not appear to be major problems in and of themselves.

    METHODOLOGY & RESULTS
    Not knowing exactly what I was looking for, I cast a wide statistical net here, and actually was tipped off to what turned out to be one of the major stories by a random Q&A blurb from Kevin Pelton's "Mailbag" over at ESPN (here).

    I researched Defensive FG%, Defensive Rebounding, Strength of Schedule, Opposing Points in the Paint, Turnovers, 3pt Defense, Pace, The Twin Towers lineups, The Three Guard lineups, and Fast Break Points given up. And as it turns out most of those items did not end up being leading indicators. The three largest concerns were 1) Strength of Opposition; 2) The Three Guard Lineup; and 3) Three Point Defense. I suppose one notable point for the rest might be that the Pels really have no particular defensive strengths, so that any weaknesses they have are exaggerated and not countered by strengths. So there could be a cumulative effect here rather than any one magic bullet.

    Here's a breakdown summary of the results:

    Defensive FG% -- a promising result, the Def FG% issues seem related to strength of opposition rather than bad Pels defense making weak teams look strong
    Defensive Rebounding -- not significant, slightly below average and concentrated in 2 players, but overall within norms
    Strength of Schedule -- merged into the Defensive FG% analysis, Pels have faced the 5th hardest schedule, and one of the toughest groups of offensive opponents
    Opposing Points in the Paint -- not good, but roughly equal to many better defensive teams. Certainly not enough alone to explain the D.
    Turnovers -- can't prove it does NOT, but numbers show that other teams with similar TOs are fine defensively + has been steady on the season for the Pels
    3pt Defense -- the 3rd area of major concern, the Pels have been bad, and bad 3pt defense = bad NBA defense, gotten worse under the three guard lineup too
    Pace -- steady all year, but significance would likely be tied into the Three Guard Lineup which has also sped the Pelicans up considerably
    The Twin Towers lineups -- Pels have actually been better defensively this year with both bigs on the floor than not, so this isn't it
    The Three Guard lineups -- the Rondo/Moore/Jrue lineups have been a huge huge problem defensively, in particular with Boogie back there alone behind them
    Fast Break Points -- definitely a poor transition defense team, as tracked by multiple metrics, but not every bad transition D team is bad overall defensively

    So, to the numbers. I'm breaking things into 3 different categories, + I'll start with the areas which showed the greatest correlation, and then move on to the ones that are not as clear or may not be really damaging. I'll make a new post for each different group because there are a LOT of numbers in here, and I'm well aware of the too many numbers at once = eyes roll into the back of your head phenomenon.

    P.S. Note that I used a number of different sites for these numbers, some of which seems to use slightly different formulas than others. When that was true I used multipliers to adjust all numbers to basketball-reference's calculations. In each such case I list the original site's calculations as for instance 109.3(wowy) and then what that number equals in bballreference numbers.
    Last edited by Bricklayer; 12-21-2017 at 12:14 AM.

  2. #2
    I. -- AREAS WHERE THE PELICANS STRUGGLE THAT DIRECTLY EFFECT DRTG

    Three items were very telling, and after support research, appear that they might explain much of what has gone wrong in and of themselves: Strength of Opposition (as revealed through opposing ORTG and Defensive FG%), that three guard lineup, which has some really crazy numbers attached to it, and shoddy 3pt defense, which seems to highly correlate to poor overall defense leaguewide.

    Defensive FG% -- Is The Team Bad At Defense, Or Have the Opponents Been Great at Offense?


    The Pels Defensive FG% numbers are interesting.

    First of all, in raw Defensive FG%, the Pels are ranked a lousy 25th, at 46.6%.

    But the interesting thing is that in Defensive FG Differential -- in other words, in how much better or worse your opponent shoots against you than they do against everyone else, the Pels are actually ranked only 18th, with a barely worse than average Defensive FG Differential of +0.2%.

    Put those two together and you come to the interesting conclusion that the Pels raw Defensive FG% must actually be so poor because over the first 30 games of the season, Pels opponents have been very strong Offensive FG% teams.

    Here is the worst Defensive FG% list along with their Defensive FG% Differentials:
    30) DEN 48.2% (+2.5%)
    29) MIN 48.1% (+2.5%)
    28) SAC 47.6% (+1.3%)
    27) ATL 47.4% (+1.4%)
    26) PHX 46.8% (+1.3%)
    25) NOP 46.6% (+0.2%)
    24) ORL 46.6% (+0.8%)
    23) IND 46.6% (+0.5%)
    22) MIL 46.6% (+1.2%)

    So of all the bad Defensive FG% teams, the Pels are the one doing the least to make the situation worse. How does that happen? Well it happens when you have played the second toughest set of offensive FG% teams in the league:

    Opponent's Season FG%:
    1) DET 46.5% (-0.1%)
    2) NOP 46.4% (+0.2%)
    3) PHI 46.4% (-2.2%)
    4) SAC 46.3% (+1.3%)
    5) MEM 46.1% (-1.0%)

    And all of a sudden that throws into some question the Pels' defensive struggles.

    If you flip over to looking at the ORTG of teams the Pels have played in the last month since Rondo returned and the three guard lineup was born, you find that they have played a very tough set of offensive opponents.

    TOR 113.4 (4th)
    DEN 110.0 (7th)
    OKC 105.5 (20th)
    SAS 107.3 (15th)
    PHX 104.7 (23rd)
    GSW 115.5 (2nd)
    MIN 111.5 (5th)
    UTH 107.6 (14th)
    POR 105.7 (19th)
    GSW 115.5 (2nd)
    DEN 110.0 (7th)
    SAC 101.2 (29th)
    PHI 106.6 (17th)
    HOU 115.6 (1st)
    MIL 109.0 (9th)
    DEN 110.0 (7th)
    --------------------
    Total = 109.3

    So in the past month the defense has collapsed in the face of 9 games against Top 10 offenses, to only 5 against middling (#11-#20) offenses, and 2 bottom 10 offenses.

    And again, that suggests that even if the defense gets no better the rest of the year, it may well start getting better results once it's no longer running into offensive buzzsaws every night.

    The Three Guard Rondo/Jrue/Moore Lineup

    I was actually tipped off to look into this by a blurb in a Kevin Pelton "Mailbag" article last week, and I'm glad I did. Once you separate it out, you realize it might be the single most dramatic factor in the Pels' defensive deterioration.

    The factor doesn't follow any one player, it only kicks in when you have ALL of them out there together. Then it looks like a full defensive collapse, with the team playing very fast with 3 little guards all giving up size for speed, scoring very well, but giving up tons of threes and getting scored on almost as fast as it scores. And Boogie gets involved too.

    Here's what we've got (these are nbawowy numbers, so I'll show the wowy numbers, and then their translation):

    Pels Season Overall:
    97.3pace 2961 possessions 112.8 DRTG(wowy) --> 110.5DRTG (27th)

    Rondo/Holiday/Moore lineups:
    99.2pace 650 possessions 117.6 DRTG(wowy) --> 115.2DRTG (would be dead last by a wide margin)

    Non-Rondo/Holiday/Moore lineups:
    96.8pace 2311 possessions 111.5 DRTG(wowy) --> 109.2DRTG (109.2 would tie the Clippers for 20th in DRTG without the three guard lineups)


    And when you poke around even further, some really eye-opening numbers pop up. For it's not only the 3-guard lineup itself which has caused issues, it's the 3-guard lineup while anchored by Boogie while A.D. has been in and out of the lineup.

    The three guard with both Boogie and A.D.: 115.5 DRTG(wowy) --> 113.1 DRTG
    The three guard lineup with Boogie: 122.3 DRTG(wowy) --> 119.8 DRTG!!!

    And in fact, almost all of the defensive struggles of late with Boogie lineups can be tracked back to his pairings with the three guard run 'n gun lineups, in particular without A.D. out there. On the season:

    Boogie oncourt overall:
    113.9 DRTG(wowy) --> 111.6 DRTG

    Boogie oncourt w/ 3-guard:
    122.3 DRTG(wowy) --> 119.8 DRTG (compared to Pels season DRTG of 110.5)

    Boogie oncourt with all other lineups:
    110.4 DRTG(wowy) --> 108.2 DRTG (compared to Pels season DRTG of 110.5)

    That is a staggering gap, and all of that has opened up since Rondo got healthy and the 3-guard starting lineup was born. Now a certain amount of it can be attributed to the particular games that Boogie was left with the 3 guards to face -- A.D. saavily managed to avoid the Warriors in Oakland, the Rockets in Houston, half of the Nuggets in Denver etc. There is again a scheduling argument to be made. But it's still a dramatic turnaround. Boogie and most lineups = improve the Pelicans defense. Pels 108.2 DRTGs under most Boogie lineups would rank just about league average 15th-16th. Boogie and the 3 guards? It's an utter disaster over the past month.

    P.S. Note, all stats in this section are from before the Washington game -- didn't feel like rerunning them all after I was tardy with this thread.


    Three Point Defense

    The Pels three point defense has been poor all season, and whether you look at the raw numbers, or the per 100 possession numbers, the ranking is the same:

    Opposing 3pt%
    NOP .372 (23rd)

    Opposing 3pt Attempts + Makes
    NOP 11.6 - 31.2 (25th)

    However, as noted in the Three Guard Lineup section above, those ranks would be at least somewhat better before the Pels began the 3-guard all offense no defense experiment. Rondo/Jrue/Moore lineups are allowing opponents to shoot an ungodly .396 from three point land, which would tie Milwaukee for the worst 3pt defense in the league. Put it this way, Harden spams 10.8 threes a game and hits them at a .392 rate. Curry spams 9.5 threes a game and hits them at a .381. When Rondo/Jrue/Moore are on the floor, the entire opposing team become Hardens and Currys, and spam 33.1 threes a game at a .396 rate. And of course that makes sense when you are playing at extreme pace and are undersized across the little man positions. Lot of open court shots, and no length to challenge them. The lack of rangy mid-sized defenders hurts.

    And the thing is, that while some of these defensive weaknesses show only dubious connections to poor overall defensive performance, being poor at defending the three point shot seems to highly correlate with carrying a poor DRTG. Here are the teams in the Pels opponent 3pt% neighborhood, along with those team's DRTGs:

    30) MIL .396 DRTG 109.9 (24th)
    29) DEN .381 DRTG 109.5 (22nd)
    28) ORL .380 DRTG 109.9 (23rd)
    27) SAC .378 DRTG 110.7 (28th)
    26) MEM .377 DRTG 108.3 (17th)
    25) ATL .374 DRTG 111.0 (29th)
    24) CLE .373 DRTG 110.4 (26th)
    23) NOP .372 DRTG 110.6 (27th)
    22) IND .371 DRTG 108.8 (19th)
    21) PHX .371 DRTG 111.4 (30th)
    20) DET .371 DRTG 106.4 (12th)
    19) UTH .371 DRTG 105.5 (9th)
    Last edited by Bricklayer; 12-21-2017 at 10:07 PM.

  3. #3
    II. -- AREAS WHERE THE PELICANS STRUGGLE WHERE THE IMPACT ON DRTG IS LESS CLEAR

    Turnovers
    It was suggested on this very board that turnovers might be the cause of the defensive woes, and it's not an entirely illogical premise. While "point off turnovers" is a bad stat IMO, in that it conflates open court opportunities off of live ball turnovers that might give the offense an advantage, with deadball turnovers where the defense has time to set up as normal, logically enough liveball turnovers would compromise your overall defense to some degree.

    However, as I started to explore in my original argument on that point, and will now finish up -- the numbers don't support the premise that turnovers have been the culprit.

    1) The turnover rate has not changed much over the season.

    Month by Month Turnovers:
    Oct: 16.4
    Nov: 15.8
    Dec: 15.8

    The other thing to note that the NBA average TO per game is 15.0. So logically, that means the Pels are at most 1 to 1.5 turnovers a game over their opponents. So even if opponents hit 50% of their resulting shots, and even if all of those shots were 3pts, it could only result in about 1.5 to 2 points a game. Which matters, but again would not be enough to explain the huge defensive issues.

    2) Other teams with similar TOV% don't struggle like the Pels do

    26) Lakers 14.7TOV% 105.6DRTG (10th)
    27) Warriors 14.7TOV% 104.5DRTG (6th)
    28) Pelicans 14.8TOV% 110.5DRTG (27th)
    29) Heat 15.0TOV% 106.8DRTG (12th)
    30) Sixers 15.4TOV% 106.9DRTG (13th)

    so while it's conceivable that turnovers are somehow the Pel's big problem, it doesn't seem like it works that way for other teams, unless they would all be elite Top 5 type defensive teams were it not for TOs.

    3) It was then suggested that maybe the Pels were committing different turnovers, more live ball for instance

    To test that theory I turned to bball-references team turnover charts where they chart out every turnover for every player by type of turnover. I specifically wanted to look at those bottom 5 turnover teams above, since they are the Pels' TO peers, and yet seem to avoid the defensive issues the Pels have had. Here's what we've got:

    Types = Bad Pass/Lost Ball/Offensive Foul/Other
    LAL --- 215 BP / 104 LB / 73 OF / 70 OTH
    GSW - 269 BP / 80 LB / 66 OF / 50 OTH
    NOP -- 226 BP / 115 LB / 55 OF / 72 OTH
    MIA -- 212 BP / 110 LB / 63 OF / 67 OTH
    PHI -- 240 BP / 113 LB / 62 OF / 84 OTH

    so...not sure what to make of that. Whatever the variations mean, however, the Pels seem to be pretty much in the middle/within the norms, so again it's hard to say why these TOs would crater the Pels defense, and not the other teams'.


    Fast Break Points
    When you look at the number of fast break points given up per game, and also consider the scoring efficiency of opponents in those situations, it becomes obvious that the two statistics are related as part of just "bad transition defense". Their aren't really any teams that give up a lot of transition points but are actually very good at making it tough for opponents to score, or vice versa.

    Per game + efficiency:
    26) MEM 13.4 (Eff: 1.831 29th)
    27) PHX 13.5 (Eff: 1.503 21st)
    28) GSW 13.8 (Eff: 1.572 24th)
    29) NOP 14.2 (Eff: 1.555 23rd)
    30) DAL 14.6 (Eff: 1.801 28th)

    The one whoa horsey there is the presence of Golden State with very similar numbers to the Pels, but I think all that proves is that Golden State has an achilles too.

    However, as with the turnover question, I think you can clearly show that the Pels are poor in transition defense, but the case is not nearly so clear that poor transition defense means your whole DRTG is going to suck. Here are the DRTGs of those same 5 worst transition D teams:

    MEM 108.3 17th
    PHX 111.4 30th
    GSW 104.4 5th
    NOP 110.6 27th
    DAL 107.4 15th

    So once again...the poor transition D is notable, but other teams seem to be able to overcome it to be merely mediocre defensively, or if you are the Warriors, even excellent defensively. Saying that poor transition D makes you suck defensively only if you are the Pelicans (or Suns) seems a shaky argument. A better one might be that it is part of an accumulation of weak or mediocre defensive markers. Not THE problem, but part of it.

    P.S. I am always a little uncomfortable with titles like "fast break points allowed" because..who determines what is or is not a "fast break"? So as a supporting measure I took a look at nba.com's Sportsvu stats which exactly track shots by various times and distances.

    Opponent EFG% on Shots with 22-24 seconds left on clock:
    NOP 65.7% (18th)

    Opponent EFG% on Shots with 18-22 seconds left on clock:
    NOP 63.8% (24th)

    Of course, shots off of offensive rebounds might very well fall into those categories as well, distorting the portion due to fastbreaks. Nonetheless I would think virtually all fast break points worth the name would fall within one of those 2 categories in the first 6 seconds of the clock.


    Opposing Points in Paint
    The Pels are ranked 23rd in the league in Opposing Points in the Paint, which obviously is not great. But again they find themselves sandwiched right inbetween all of the championship contenders with that number (CLE is #21, GSW #22 and Houston #25). It's another number that could use some significant improvement, but in spite of which other teams are succeeding:

    20) MIN 45.1
    21) CLE 45.1
    22) GSW 45.7
    23) NOP 45.9
    24) BKN 46.3
    25) HOU 46.5
    26) DEN 46.6

    P.S. I have never been 100% clear whether fast break layups got folded into Points in the Paint. If they do, then playing at pace/giving up fast break points would also automatically make you look bad at Opposing Points in the Paint even if your half court interior defense was solid.
    Last edited by Bricklayer; 12-21-2017 at 06:30 AM.

  4. #4
    III. -- AREAS WHICH DON'T SEEM LIKELY CULPRITS

    Pace
    The Pels' season long pace stats have remained remarkably stable. There is certainly a good argument to be made that this sort of pace is a lousy way to exploit the defensive advantages of running a twin tower lineup -- the power of twin towers is in the halfcourt where they can smother the middle -- but not much has changed on this front to explain the deteriorating defensive situation:

    OCT - 97.9
    NOV - 96.7
    DEC - 97.6

    However, and this is the one major "however", the one place where pace does turn up as a potential culprit is in explaining the problems with the 3-guard lineup, which like a bunch of scatbacks like to run run run and have done so at a blistering 99.2 pace since coming together. Perhaps that bump has just proven too much and the defense is just never getting set.

    The Two Bigs
    The Pels have actually been better defensively this season with both bigs on the floor than they are when they are not:

    w/ Boogie+Brow = 110.0(wowy) = 107.8DRTG
    w/o Boogie+Brow =112.8(wowy) = 110.5DRTG

    so arguments that Twin Towers lineups cannot defend modern offenses etc. etc. don't hold water as to why the team struggles defensively.


    Defensive Rebounding
    Defensive Rebounding %
    77.0 (13th)

    So entirely mediocre and unexceptional. The pattern is a little unusual in that there are only 2 players accounting for most of it. If you restrict a search to players who have played 300+ minutes (so roughly an average of 10 per game so far):

    NBA Ranks + DREB%:
    7) Boogie 30.8%
    31) A.D. 25.3%
    135) Rondo 15.1%
    142) Cunningham 14.6%
    202) Holiday 11.2%
    Allen 10.7%
    Nelson 9.8%
    Clark 9.3%
    Miller 7.6%
    Moore 6.2%

    So Boogie is of course one of the league's best, and while A.D. would be weak for a #1, he's actually one of the top #2 defensive rebounders, and as a PF has been further away from the hoop when out there with Boogie, restricting opportunities. The team is only middling however because of that lack of a 3rd big/extra help. The 3rd best significant minute guy is Rondo, a PG who has played only half the season, ranked at #135 in the league in DREB%. There are 30 teams in the NBA, by #135 teams should have at least 4 and sometimes 5 guys on the list. For the Pels Rondo is only the 3rd. One of the reasons for the defensive struggles of the 3 guard crew could easily be because E'Twaun Moore is the absolute worst defensive rebounder on the team, and so there is no SF rebounding support for the bigs from him, or other main SF options Miller and Allen. Allen is the only guy who comes close, and he grabs fewer d-boards than either member of the starting backcourt. This might come into play especially on nights when A.D. is out. Boogie has had a couple of huge 40-20 nights in those situations, and in only 72 minutes this year Asik has showed that the one thing he still can do is d-board. But otherwise with only 1 tower available, controlling the d-glass is a problem. Still, those are game to game tactics questions, and when you get down to it the overall team is entirely too average in the D-Rebounding department for it to explain the large scale defensive struggles.
    Last edited by Bricklayer; 12-21-2017 at 06:31 AM.

  5. #5
    RIP BDJ AUSSIE_PELICAN's Avatar
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    Holy ******** man.
    I think you have posted more sentences in this one thread than I have in 7 years.

    Good job.
    Out of interest how long did it take you to gather this info?

    One tidbit that I did take from all of this is that all of the teams we are competing against for the playoffs - Minny, Denver, Utah, OKC and Portland, we have had the toughest schedule so far and we are still within a game or two within the top 4.

    I'll judge this team after January.
    If we aren't 6 to 8 games over .500 at this stage I'll be disappointed.

    BTW great write up!!!

  6. #6
    Pelicans have moved into the #1 spot on strength of schedule, as of December 21st. Maybe that is a factor......

  7. #7
    Pistol Pete Would Be Proud!! AusPel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOEngineer View Post
    Pelicans have moved into the #1 spot on strength of schedule, as of December 21st. Maybe that is a factor......
    Where did you find this info?

  8. #8
    Good post. Zach Lowe had a short part of his article on the defensive problems as well. I will try to be optimistic and blame the defensive woes in large part on the strength of schedule thus far (and lack of Solomon Hill).

  9. #9
    Incredible work!

    Bricklayer, do you have any thoughts on what should be done to rectify the situation? Should the team risk spacing and go back to Cunningham starting? Or should we give Miller the start?

    Miller has seemed like the natural choice to me if we move away from the three guard lineup. What is odd though in trying to get a sense of what it may look like, this team has only utilized a Jrue, Rondo, Miller, AD, and Cousins lineup for 10 minutes all season. Which makes looking at the numbers impossible to take seriously. Net Rating is really good but again, 10 minutes. Rondo, Miller, Jrue has been used much more. But often in weird configurations. The most used being 44 minutes with Cousins, Miller at PF, Moore, Jrue, and Rondo. And that lineup is just toxic.

    Would be curious if you have any prescriptions of what, if anything; the Pels should do?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by AUSSIE_PELICAN View Post
    Holy ******** man.
    I think you have posted more sentences in this one thread than I have in 7 years.

    Good job.
    Out of interest how long did it take you to gather this info?
    started it on Friday. Originally hoped it would be a weekend project, but when it became obvious that wasn't happening, just left all the tabs open and kept pecking away at it.

    Quote Originally Posted by N.O.Bronco View Post
    Incredible work!

    Bricklayer, do you have any thoughts on what should be done to rectify the situation? Should the team risk spacing and go back to Cunningham starting? Or should we give Miller the start?

    Miller has seemed like the natural choice to me if we move away from the three guard lineup. What is odd though in trying to get a sense of what it may look like, this team has only utilized a Jrue, Rondo, Miller, AD, and Cousins lineup for 10 minutes all season. Which makes looking at the numbers impossible to take seriously. Net Rating is really good but again, 10 minutes. Rondo, Miller, Jrue has been used much more. But often in weird configurations. The most used being 44 minutes with Cousins, Miller at PF, Moore, Jrue, and Rondo. And that lineup is just toxic.

    Would be curious if you have any prescriptions of what, if anything; the Pels should do?
    Well...just following the numbers I would say:

    a) some of it is hopefully going to naturally resolve here as the opponents get weaker.
    b) you could start Miller in place of Moore, despite how brilliantly Moore has worked as a roleplayer, and see if that calms the defensive disaster of the 3-guard. But Miller is actually almost as bad a rebounder, and not known as a defender either, so would have to see. Frankly I'm not sure if I would be willing to go back to Cunningham or not. He's such a terribly poor offensive player it's painful just for a modest defensive gain.
    c) you could still try to run the 3-guard with Davis out there -- somehow it works for him. In fact in very limited minutes (I think 31, so grain of salt and all that), A.D. and the 3-guard actually had a ridiculously good (as in obviously aberrant sample size issue) DRTG. So until that's proven wrong, you could run his minutes without Boogie with the 3-guard and see if you can goose the offense without killing the defense.
    d) you could of course try to slow the pace to actually maximize your Twin Tower impact, but I don't have much hope such a thing would ever occur to Alvin "3 winning years in 15 years of NBA coaching" Gentry.


    In general, I am not hopeless given the effect the really tough schedule may have had. The schedule is really going to soften up for the next 6 weeks, and by the end of that Allen and Hill may be both back or almost back, which could help further. As would A.D. being able to string together two games without coming down with another owie. Given how bad it's started it doesn't seem likely the team will ever be more than mediocre defensively, and that will be an accomplishment. "Mediocre or bust!" But it's very much possible, and with the offense perking the way it has been, it's also all that's needed to be a +.500 team with room to spare.

  11. #11
    MM was dropping suggestions(hints? not sure) on the other Pels board about DeMarre Carroll. The Nets have basically been renting out cap space for draft picks and misfit parts with upside. I think conceivably you could throw a first, maybe a second as well, and clear some salary and get Carroll without much problem. It would be one of the few win/win trades that fit in line with what both organizations are looking for.

    Given all that you have said he seems like a surefire way to plug every one of those holes you mentioned from your research on the three guard starting unit.

    While his health and age is an issue, he has rebounded somewhat from Toronto. Staying mostly healthy and his numbers have been ticking back up. He currently is shooting right near 40% on catch and shoot threes(36% overall) on a bad Nets team. So you replace Moore with Carroll and you keep the spacing and add a much better and suitable defender for the position, who is also averaging 6.9 rebounds and 3.7FTA's to go along with that.

    I have to say, of all the hair-brained, half-cocked trade ideas that come along, that one, in the face of what you have identified, sounds like a really smart move. We all know that first rounder is moving to some other team, probably before the deadline, Carroll seems like one of the most realistic targets.
    Last edited by N.O.Bronco; 12-21-2017 at 09:26 PM.

  12. #12
    Of course the other realistic trade target that wouldn't do much about defense but would probably be a net positive for some of our issues is trading for Evan Fournier. It would be a doubling down on offense vs defense, but beggars can't be choosers.

    Magic bloggers and writers have made routine mention of the Pelicans as a potential trade partner to blow it up in Orlando. That doesn't mean anything except that at least fans that think Magic first, see the Pelicans as a partner they can build a trade relationship with. So to think he is a target isn't just homerism. Seeing a trade revolving around something like Ajinca, Hill or Moore and an unprotected 2018 first for Fournier. Who would become another stellar three point shooter but is more suited to the 3 than Moore, doesn't sound like a terrible idea either.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by AusPel View Post
    Where did you find this info?
    https://www.teamrankings.com/nba/ran...ength-by-other

    Googled NBA Strength of Schedule and this came up second on the list..... Makes sense since we played GS thrice and haven't played many weak teams.

  14. #14
    Pistol Pete Would Be Proud!! AusPel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOEngineer View Post
    https://www.teamrankings.com/nba/ran...ength-by-other

    Googled NBA Strength of Schedule and this came up second on the list..... Makes sense since we played GS thrice and haven't played many weak teams.
    Hardest schedule of EVERYONE and still in the 8. Kinda puts things into perspective

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by AusPel View Post
    Hardest schedule of EVERYONE and still in the 8. Kinda puts things into perspective
    The bottom has kinda fallen off in the West with the Jazz, Clippers, and Grizzlies struggling. I think barring a major injury to AD or Boogie, the 8 seed is probably ours at this point.

    Might be premature but easing of the schedule plus the competition struggling seems a pretty safe bet.

  16. #16
    Thanks for spending time on this BL! What an excellent and we'll thought out thread. Dilly , dilly!

  17. #17
    Pistol Pete Would Be Proud!! AusPel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N.O.Bronco View Post
    The bottom has kinda fallen off in the West with the Jazz, Clippers, and Grizzlies struggling. I think barring a major injury to AD or Boogie, the 8 seed is probably ours at this point.

    Might be premature but easing of the schedule plus the competition struggling seems a pretty safe bet.
    Spoke too soon, Jazz just crushed the Spurs even without Mitchell, Gobert et al. They are still a real threat

  18. #18
    Pistol Pete Would Be Proud!! AusPel's Avatar
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    http://www.espn.com.au/nba/story/_/i...star-draft-nba

    New Orleans, not good enough on defense

    The Pelicans are 26th in points allowed per possession, and they should be embarrassed. They are getting mauled in transition, and their offense is hurting their defense; only the Suns have committed more live-ball turnovers, and opponents are turning steals into easy points.

    DeMarcus Cousins has been the biggest offender, in every sense. He's coughing up an ungodly 5.1 turnovers per game, on pace to be the third-most in league history, and let's just say he's not exactly hustling back to correct his mistakes. It's tempting to excuse those turnovers as the byproduct of an overburdened creative fulcrum; after all, Steve Nash committed heaps of turnovers.

    But some are just silly -- thread-the-needle highlight chasing when an easier pass would do. Some are the result of an offense that looks great for one or two actions, but devolves into Cousins or Anthony Davis bull-rushing one-on-one late in the shot clock. Cousins is prone to losing his balance, and then the ball.

    The problems run beyond turnovers. New Orleans has been unusually susceptible to transition attacks after live rebounds, per both Cleaning The Glass and Inpredictable.

    Cousins' effort in the half court has waned. New Orleans has given up an unthinkable 115 points per 100 possessions when he plays without Davis, a full six points worse than Sacramento's dead-last overall mark, per NBA.com. Cousins is back to reaching and lurching instead of moving his feet.

    Rajon Rondo has been a minus (shocker!), and New Orleans' collective smallness around the bash brothers hurts on a lot of nights.

    The Pelicans are 15-16, lucky that injuries and uninspired play have wrecked the landscape around them. They might eke into the playoffs despite a substandard defense. But their margin for error is nonexistent.

  19. #19
    Let me add a new section:

    The Rondo Factor

    The real key appears to be Rajon Rondo. I mean...

    Demarcus Cousins has played 911 possessions without Anthony Davis so far this year. 293 of those have come alongside Rajon Rondo. 618 have been without Rondo.

    Demarcus Cousins w/o Davis but with Rondo: 126.4DRTG !!!???
    Demarcus Cousins w/o Davis and w/o Rondo: 112.1DRTG

    I mean, what the hell? That's not a tiny sample size at that point.

    Looking at the breakdowns, some numbers just shriek:

    DMC w/o A.D. but w/Rondo:
    Pace: 100.6
    Opp 3pt%: 44.7(!!)
    Opp TS% .643

    DMC w/o A.D. or Rondo
    Pace: 96.2
    Opp 3pt%: 41.0(!)
    Opp TS% .586

    and maybe it really is that pace...I'm trying to think back in history of any team with a 270lb center racing up and down the floor at a 100+ pace. The fastest any of Shaq's teams played was 96.3 in his rookie year, and they slowed thereafter. But even if that's some factor...that 3pt% is completely outrageous. Opponents are shooting nearly 45% from 3ptland??? I mean...no wonder the defensive stats are so atrocious. Everybody is Kyle Korver. And for that matter, even with no Rondo, opponents are shooting 41% from 3pt land against the Pels with Boogie and no A.D.? That's...bizarre.

    Just to add to the intrigue:

    DMC and A.D. w/o Rondo:
    Pace: 95.1
    Opp 3pt%: 37.8
    Opp TS% .546
    DRTG: 103.9 --> would be #5 in the NBA

    So...A.D. is the key to the 3pt defense not being disastrous??...?...? Boogie is still out there -- it didn't make much sense that a center was the key to the 3pt defense anyway, but now it looks like a PF is making the difference?? Whatever it is, you have the Towers out there together with no Rondo and they have the 5th best DRTG in the NBA, right in between the Spurs and the Warriors. ALL of the damage to the Pels' DRTG is occurring when the Towers aren't paired and/or when Rondo is on the floor.

    DMC and A.D. w/Rondo:
    Pace: 94.6
    Opp 3pt%: 36.1(?)
    Opp TS% .574
    DRTG: 114.7

    Um...WHAT??? So now Rondo comes along, he absolutely nukes the DRTG when he and Cousins are on the floor together without A.D., and on top of that, the pace is insane and threes are bombing from all over. So you think, well, maybe what is happening is that he is playing to fast and...somehow singlehandedly killing the 3pt defense...? and...that's why the DRTG is so bad. But now you go and add him with Cousins AND A.D., and the DRTG STILL craters, even with the pace and 3pt% not wavering. So what is happening?


    P.S. Credit where credit is due, this problem was touched on several weeks ago in an article by Mason Ginsberg linked to the home page of this site: http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/20...gling-defense/

    P.P.S. one of the things he noted at the time was how much the Pelicans' schedule had picked up after Rondo returned. The SOS could again be impacting these numbers, although it would have to be one hell of an impact to fully explain them.
    Last edited by Bricklayer; 12-22-2017 at 06:54 AM.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by N.O.Bronco View Post

    Would be curious if you have any prescriptions of what, if anything; the Pels should do?

    In light of that last bit of research let me revise my answer on how to help the defense:

    1) never play Rondo again
    2) play the Towers 48 minutes together out there

    Voila! Defense fixed, championship incoming.

  21. #21
    Pistol Pete Would Be Proud!! AusPel's Avatar
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    3) add Solomon Hill to the mix

  22. #22
    Nah I watched Rondo in the last game and among all guards, he is the absolute laziest fighting around screens. Almost no effort at all. He also tends to gamble.

    On the flip side Jrue cannot and should not ever initiate the offense. So what to do?

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Bricklayer View Post
    In light of that last bit of research let me revise my answer on how to help the defense:

    1) never play Rondo again
    2) play the Towers 48 minutes together out there

    Voila! Defense fixed, championship incoming.
    Yea never play Rondo again. Sarcasm off.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by 23speedkillz View Post
    Yea never play Rondo again. Sarcasm off.
    We were fixing the defense, not the offense

  25. #25
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    Great work Bricklayer, I've finally FINISHED reading your posts! I think your key factors are accurate and I think we can relax and not overreact because;
    1. The schedule will get easier, 2 we'll get Hill back so the 3 guard lineup will be utilized less, and 3. Hill being back will help 3 pt defense because its harder to shoot over a 6'7" player than a 6'4" player.

    Your stats on turnovers eased my worries because that is what I was most concerned about. And I think you can add rebounding as the 4th key to our D issues because we can't survive with our PG being the 3rd best rebounder on the team.

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