The story of these playoffs has been defense — Dwight Howard with nine blocks, Ron Artest on Kevin Durant, the Hawks shutting down what is left of the Bucks. Teams get to the playoffs because of their defense.
But who are the worst defenders in the NBA? Who costs their teams games due a vexing combination of inability and general lack of interest? Who are the guys other NBA players pray will be covering them for a night?
Math wiz Haralabos Voulgaris — who used to use his database to bet the NBA but now uses it in hopes of landing an NBA job — broke it down on his blog Alone in the Corner (via TrueHoop).
You NBA All-Worst Defensive Team:
PG: Johnny Flynn (Timberwolves)
SG: Kevin Martin (Houston)
SF: Andres Nocioni (Sacramento)
PF: Charlie Villanueva (Detroit)
C: Andrea Bargnani (Toronto)
Notice that none of those teams made the playoffs. Coincidence? I think not.
Flynn is a rookie, it’s pretty harsh to put a rookie on this list, especially one that has two power forwards playing behind him rather than one true center shot blocker. But Voulgaris uses a lot of adjusted plus/minus stats, and that metric doesn’t like Flynn. Largely because he’s not really a good defender.
Nocioni is not a league’s worst defender, he’s just put in that position. He’s a tweener, and he gets asked to guard threes that are too big for him or fours who are too big for him. So the numbers hate him, but the skills are there.
Charlie Villanueva, what a great pick up he turned out to be.
Now Bargnani deserves his status — he was the anchor for the worst defense in the NBA last year. It’s the flaw in the construction of the Raptors, both Bargnani and Bosh really need a big paired with them who can defend, block shots, dominate the boards and do the dirty work. Combined they are the softest front line in basketball. Bosh gets more of a pass because he puts in the defensive effort (and makes up for his shortcomings on the offensive end). Bargnani just shows no interest in defense.
Derek Fisher is already stumping for his second head-coaching job.
Fisher has done plenty since retiring as a player — getting hired by the Knicks, getting fired by the Knicks and in between being attacked by Matt Barnes and finding another controversy about player relations.
All the while, Fisher counted against the cap for the Thunder, his last NBA team.
Oklahoma City finally renounced him to sign Alex Abrines.
Albert Nahmad of Heat Hoops:
This is one of my favorite salary-cap quirks, explained in further detail here.
These are becoming fewer and further between, because teams are using cap room more frequently as the salary cap skyrockets. Gone are the days of a team operating above the cap for a dozen straight years.
There’s also even less utility in old cap holds now that a player must have played the prior season for a team to be used in a sign-and-trade. (Not that these holds were useful except the rarest of occasions prior, anyway.)
Fisher’s quick transition from playing to coaching helped make this an exception, allowing this weird (and trivial) transaction.
Where will the NBA hold the 2017 All-Star game?
New Orleans? Probably.
New York/Brooklyn or Chicago? Maybe.
One more maybe: Las Vegas.
Scott Kusher of The Advocate:
The NBA held All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas in 2007. By all accounts, it was wild.
I’d be surprised if the league returned the event to Las Vegas, but at this point, I’d really be surprised by any option besides New Orleans.
The 76ers hired Bryan Colangelo, and Sam Hinkie bounced.
Now, much of Hinkie’s front-office is also heading out the door.
Zach Lowe of ESPN:
that regime — including deposed GM Sam Hinkie’s handpicked analytics crew — will be mostly gone by the end of August, league sources say.
If Colangelo hires his own analytics staff and integrates numbers into his decision-making, this is no big deal.
If Colangelo leaves those positions vacant, Philadelphia will be working from behind.
I’m betting on the former. He isn’t Hinkie, but Colangelo has discussed the importance of analytics. Let Colangelo hire his own staff, and everything might even flow more smoothly.
Mike Krzyzewski hates fun (even more than he admits).
So, the coach wasn’t thrilled after Team USA’s exhibition win over China, which included DeMar DeRozan nearly 360-degree dunking on someone.
Marc J. Spears of ESPN:
I want to see Team USA make highlight plays. Dunk from the free-throw line. Shoot from halfcourt. Throw behind-the-back passes. Show up weaker competition.
So, it’s hard for me to get behind Coach K’s criticism.
But I also want to see the Americans win gold medals in the Olympics, and I’ll blame Krzyzewski if they’re not adequately focused.
Fair? Not one bit.
Doesn’t change what I want, though.