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.
Is the Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler relationship nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows? No. There will be sparks between two intense competitors.
Have those sparks started a fire Bulls fans should be concerned about? A report on Wednesday said the core problem was Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic, which provided some kindling for that spark to catch.
However, as you would expect, Butler said this was all much ado about nothing, that he and Rose are all good. Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Spin this however you wish: Their relationship is fine and someone in the media is making this up; or their relationship has been rough, and this is all just leaking out now.
This is a Bulls team in a bit of a transition as Rose declines some and Butler has grown into a top-flight player. Clearly that dynamic has some people around the team — likely the people in one of one of the players’ camps doesn’t like the power struggle or where it leaves his buddy — talking out of school to the press.
But as Butler noted, winning cures all ills. If Chicago can get off to a fast start, nobody will be asking chemistry questions.
For now, however, tounges are wagging.
The NBA is still investigating and can take its own action. In theory people involved in the incident could decide to file a civil lawsuit (although Fisher said he would not).
However, Memphis’ Matt Barnes is not going to face any criminal charges for an altercation he instigated with Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher at the home of Barnes’ estranged wife in Los Angeles, according to police, who talked to TMZ.
Matt Barnes will NOT be charged with a crime for allegedly attacking Derek Fisher over the weekend … the Redondo Beach Police Department tells TMZ Sports.
Cops tell us they did respond to an incident and a police report was filed regarding the altercation — but officers say the case “was reviewed and there is no basis for criminal charges.” As we previously reported, a witness at the home says Barnes struck Fisher in the face and a fight ensued. However, the NY Post is reporting that Fisher did not want to pursue charges against Barnes.
Fisher has been seeing Gloria Govan — Barnes’ estranged wife and star of the “Basketball Wives” reality series — for several months, and was over at her house in the South Bay of Los Angeles Saturday night, along with other friends. Barnes said he got a call from one of his two sons, who “looked distressed” that Fisher was over, and that caused Barnes to drive over to the house. Once he arrived an altercation broke out between the two men, with Barnes allegedly texting a friend that he beat up Fisher and spat in his wife’s face. That’s not going to scar the young boy any further, well done.
If Barnes did this as described (and we don’t know the details), the NBA has to look hard at this. Barnes does not get to decide for a woman he is no longer seeing who she can and cannot see, and who she has over to her home. She is not property. That is the level of control seen in domestic abuse situations, and the league can’t sit back and tolerate it.