New Defensive Statistics

With all of the hubbub over the “new” statistics of Moneyball being applied to basketball, I thought I would give a stab at keeping some of my own statistics during the Lakers game against the Warriors tonight.  I only kept stats for the Lakers’ defense and not the Warriors because, well, because I’m lazy. My secret hope is that I will inspire someone else to do this type of work, and maybe someday the NBA will adopt these “new” stats! I absolutely do not guarantee the accuracy of these stats (a few are pretty subjective, but then again, so are assists!)  but they’re interesting nonetheless.  The stats I chose to keep track of can be best described as “supplemental defensive statistics”, as they complement the standard stats. For example, contested shots would complement blocked shots, as blocks would not be counted in the contested shots total.

I guess the best place to start is with definitions:

  • Contested rebounds – This is only measuring defensive contested rebounds, as I would assume that most offensive rebounds are contested. If a Warrior was in the vicinity of the Laker and/or the Laker got the rebound as a result of boxing out, I marked down a “contested rebound” for him.
  • Missed rebound – Again, this only applies to times that the Warriors got an offensive rebound. I had to assign responsibility as to which Laker missed the rebound, either by not boxing out, or by losing control of the rebound.
  • Contested shots – The amount of times a Laker made an aggressive attempt to block a shot, not counting actual blocks, regardless of the outcome of the shot. Forwards and centers will naturally have more of these due to their respective roles in the interior of the defense.
  • Deflections – This was awarded anytime a Laker tipped the ball while on defense, yet the Warriors still kept possession. This would include times that a Laker tipped the ball out of bounds while on defense. Like blocks, actual steals are not counted as deflections.
Lakers at Warriors 2/18/2009

Lakers at Warriors 2/18/2009

So, what’s interesting here?

As expected, Odom and Gasol contested the most shots at the forward and center position. Out of the perimeter players Farmar contested the most shots, but of course, this stat could also be a measure of how many times the player Farmar was defending shot.

Kobe and Ariza live up to our expectations as guys who get their hands on the basketball on the defensive side, as Kobe had 3 deflections to go along with his 3 steals, and Ariza had 2 deflections to go with his 2 steals.

Lamar missed only one defensive rebound, but Pau did allow the Warriors to take away three rebounds that should have been his.

What’s surprising (or not, to some astute observers) is that the veteran perimeter team of Kobe and Fisher combined for 8 missed rebounds on the defensive end! They didn’t frequently box out, and sometimes even failed to jump for the ball with a Warrior in the vicinity.  But Fisher fared much better than Kobe in the contested rebound category, which means that two of Kobe’s three defensive rebounds could have been easily picked up by another Laker player, but all three of Fisher’s defensive rebounds were a direct result of his aggresiveness to gain possession of the ball.

There’s a lot more to the interpretation of these stats I’m sure, – per minute, pace, matchups, and like I said, I was too lazy to keep track of the Warriors stats, so you can’t compare their same stats, but I thought this was a good start, and fun way to look at the defense! I’ll try to keep it up the rest of the season, but no promises.


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