Who has allowed fewer points per possession this season, the San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors?
Since I’m asking, you know the answer is Golden State.
The Warrior rank fourth in the NBA in defensive rating (99.3) – behind only the Pacers, Bulls and Thunder and just ahead of the Spurs. Last season, Golden State was a pedestrian 13th.
What’s the big difference?
Andre Iguodala has been a huge defensive upgrade on the wing. Draymond Green, one of the team’s top defenders, has gotten a bigger role in his second year. And Andrew Bogut is actually healthy.
Bogut has already played 47 games, more than the last two seasons combined. The Warriors defend better when he’s on the court (98.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) than when he’s off (100.4), though the disparity is even greater for Iguodala (95.2/103.7). Bogut is an excellent shot blocker and strong rebounder, and he also moves well enough to defend the pick-and-roll at superb levels.
For my money, Bogut is the most surprisingly strong defensive team’s top defender.
Mark Jackson, via the Associated Press:
“He’s been spectacular, protecting the paint, setting screens, rebounding the basketball, being a leader, being durable,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “If he’s not here, you’re asking basically a power forward to be a (center), and to do it for a lengthy period of time is a recipe for disaster. But he’s been awesome, and certainly should be in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year.”
In some years, Bogut would have an excellent Defensive Player of the Year case. But Roy Hibbert will – and probably should – run away with the award this season.
The Pacers have an all-time great defense, and Hibbert anchors it. Like Iguodala from Bogut, Paul George could also steal credit (and votes) from Hibbert. But Hibbert (92.9/95.6) has an undeniable impact on raising Indiana’s defense from elite to historic.
Because they play the same position, Hibbert and Bogut compare easily, and it’s not really close. Hibbert is having a better defensive season.
Bogut should get some second- and third-place votes, but that’s about it.