The Clipper Defense Ain't That Bad!

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Voyeur
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So much has been made about how the Clippers are only 15th in the league in points allowed and how that proves the team isn't very good defensively. However a couple of observations: Our team was right at the bottom at the beginning of the season, so to be at 15 is pretty impressive. More importantly, the team is ranked 7th in field goal % allowed. So only Indiana, OKC, Chicago, Golden State, Houston and Charlotte allow a lower % of FG's...yeah, I can't believe that about Houston either. But still, not bad. We are ranked number 1 in, wait for it, 3....

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Swannee
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As a whole our defense seems to be getting better as the season goes along, and I find that to be very encouraging...especially after Vinny Del Negro.

Agent0
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I don't think we should ever make any defensive judgement on pts allowed because pace affects points allowed. Clippers are 11th in pts allowed per possession, the defense at it's max this season I believe was 7th or so in pts allowed per possession. The defense dropped after CP got injured, hopefully there is an upward swing again.

WinningBasket
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The Clippers have shown in pockets of time in some quarters that they can lock down on defense. Doc's system is there. The team just needs to bring it on for the full 48 minutes of play from here on out. I think they'll do it, especially with CP3 back.

Clippersfan86
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Points allowed is a completely meaningless stat because it doesn't factor in pace. If you have a very slow team like Indiana vs us for example, there is a HUGE disparity in possessions. Use defensive efficiency ranking which has us at the 11th ranked D.

Clippersfan86
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Basketball Reference Clippers team page is most accurate.

Agent0
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Yea, pts allowed just doesn't add the context part to it. For example, it suggests that the Knicks are a better defensive team than the Clippers, and no one actually believes that. When we look at Drtg, Knicks are 25th and giving up 108.4 pts/100, about 4 more pts every 100 possessions than the Clippers, but they are the 3rd slowest team in the league, so their pts allowed playing 5 less possessions a game looks nice, but means nothing in terms of who is defending better.

Pts allowed also says that Utah, the 2nd worst team in the league in Drtg defends as well as the Clippers, giving up 0.2 less PPG. Again, none of is would come to that conclusion watching the teams and that is because Utah plays 4 less possessions a game than LAC. So in 4 less possessions, they give up only 0.2 less points, that in itself should easily tell us who is defending better.

Silasie
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Good point. They need time to make it consistent, make it second nature.

Silasie
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If we can get good, really good, defensively then we can really go far, what with the talent we have offensively.

ClipperPostman
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Our Defense continues to improve. We would probably be higher if

we didn't have so many injuries.

Cp3 and Reddick are 2 of our best defenders

and both have missed significant time.

DJ is continuing to improve and by playoff time

he could be locking down the paint with

the best of them.

Only thing is right now he doesn't get the benefit of the calls

like Hibbert and Dwight. He can go str8 up and still get a foul.

Hibbert can bust you upside the head and get a no call.

Hopefully that will change.

clipper*joe
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It's not meaningless. Points allowed takes all teams and paces of those matchups and averages them out to give you well, an average. It's a simpler method but I think it gives a pretty good idea of where that team is. You might say you like a more advanced stat but both work just fine.

Laak
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I don't really follow points allowed per game since teams play different pace. Only defensive stat I look at is points per 100 possessions, and we're 8th in that.

Agent0
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Points allowed is too variable to be any sort of end point, and it is only one aspect of defensive analysis. I think it is only a problem if used as the sole marker for defense. No matter how we slice it, if we play 5 more possessions a game (technically 10 total as each team gets 5 more) than another team on average, we just aren't that likely to have a lower opponent PPG even if we close out better, limit percentages better, rebound better, rotate better, everything that objectively says better defense.

Even pts/possession, I don't like to use as a be all / end all. I like to look at what is a teams defensive strength. There are defensive strengths that are more sustainable over a wide variety of opponents and ones that can boost your ranking but are more effective against weaker teams but not that good against high level teams.

At 95 possessions a game, if you hold opponents to a great 1 pt/possession, they score 95 pts. A team playing 90 possessions a game would only have to hold their opponents to 1.06 pts/possession to get the same result. This means that in the games they play 95 possessions like your average, they on average give up 100.7 pts/game, 5.7 more points than you, but PPG said they were just as good on defense. It also means on average when you play 90 possessions a game, you give up only 90 points, but again, PPG said they were just as good of a defense.

There is where my problem lies with PPG ranking. It forgets that FG%, 3PT%, turnovers, defensive rebounding and how much you foul exists and just sort of says here are the unfiltered results and this is supposed to rank teams.

It's also why I don't buy ranking teams offensively by PPG. If you play a lot of possessions, you don't have to score well on those possessions to score a lot of points. Philly is an excellent example as they go out flying with their pace and score 100 pts/game, but they play 100.3 possessions a game. That's not actually impressive, at all. They are the 29th ranked team in Ortg and when you watch them you aren't impressed by their putrid offense, but because they push as much as possible and jack shots, they'll be in the high 90's and 100's every game, making it seem like they are doing something impressive until you look and see they are last in 3PT%, the most turnover prone team in the league! bottom 5-7 in FG% and in drawing fouls! and suddenly you start to question whether this team is actually 16th best offensive team in the league as PPG would suggest and better than teams like the Raptors or more like one of the worst.

.Clippers opponents:

44.5% FG, 32.5% 3PT, 13.8% tov, .222 FT/FGA, 72.6% Defensive rebounds, 100.6 opponent PPG

Jazz Opponents:

46.2% FG, 35.2% 3PT, 12.0% tov, .230 FT/FGA, 73.8% Defensive rebounds, 100.3 opponent PPG

Clippers hold opponents to lower percentages, turn them over more, foul less, only grab 1% less defensive rebounds, wouldn't it be a bit weird for all that to mean that the Clippers just defend as well as Utah? I think so, what do you guys think?

I wouldn't call PPG useless, we need it for differential, but it's certainly not accurate in representing defense or defensive ability over different paces, and pace doesn't normalize over the league for every team. I think it can be good at giving us an idea of pace, but we already have better measures of pace, so why use that? It can give us an idea of defense among teams with similar pace, but not so good with the teams outside of the same pace range, so with all the varying pace, why use it when we can just use a pts/possession defensive ranking? It's really just giving ourselves a lot more work to try and use PPG to rank defense or something like pace.

So I'm fine with someone mentioning it in the midst of some sort of whole context view, but in the sense of "this is where we rank in PPG and this reflects our defensive ranking", I don't really get how that actually works without adding all the other variables, and that's just a lot of unnecessary work. I'd rather go with percentages (eFG%), or better, opponent TS% because fouling a lot (eg vs. Memphis) is also very bad defense if I wanted to use one number to get a decent idea, but again, when something like pts/possession is so readily available, why not just look at that.

Musy101
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Not looking at the stats, I just feel like the defense late in games is not as good as it should be. I can remember quite a few "must get a stop" possessions where either the opponent scored easily or secured the offensive rebound.

Agent0
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Depends on how good you believe it should be and what opponents we are referring to. Defense has certainly been up and down, but our late game defense is much improved from last season. I do agree though, were not an elite defensive team if that is what you mean, not necessarily very good recently either.

I guess in the end, I'm just not going to be convinced that because PPG says so, teams like the Jazz, Knicks, Nets and Celtics are better on defense than the Clippers. Celtics are actually decent too, but those other teams, no way,they just play walk it up basketball.

The Clippers defense isn't elite though, but yes, it also isn't that bad, it's above average to good right now when we want to be in the very good to elite range, so there's work to be done defensively.

MunoValente
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The old Celtics teams with Bill Russell show why it's important to consider pace, if you just look at raw points per game they like nothing special, but once you adjust for them playing at the fastest pace in the league, you find out that they were a dominant defensive team year and year out every year with Russell. For example the 58-59 team allowed 109 points a game, third highest in league, but per 100 possessions they allowed only 84.5, best in the league by nearly 5 points.

cleepers
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Our defensive FG% is a pretty solid 6th place at 48%... it's the rebounding and extra possessions that kill us. We have the best individual rebounder in the league, but we're 19th with a negative differential. That shouldn't happen.

clipper*joe
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I disagree. Pts allowed is a general view of what a team is giving up on average based on the teams they've played. That in and of itself is a marker on how much a team gives up on average taking into consideration all teams and what pace they play. Now, some teams can dictate their pace over others and if you want to know that specific stat, then you look that specific game to see who dictated the game. If you want to know what a team gives up on average, as a raw stat, then you look at Points Allowed. Now, that doesn't give you a clear picture of how good the defense is, but it is assumed.

Points/possession isn't a clear indicator on how well a team plays defense either. All it does is tell how many points per possession you're giving up and then implying that the defense is responsible for that without looking into why it is. Both Points allowed and pts./pos do the same thing. Neither one is more valuable than the other because neither one paints the perfect picture.

If you want to measure by possessions as a means to rate the defense, then you use pts/pos.. If you want to go by game outcomes, then you use Points allowed.

CapsNClips
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Hollins can't rebound, Jamison can't rebound, Mullens can't do anything, Dudley can't rebound. Hopefully we trade a combination of these so called NBA players for 1 or 2 players that can rebound.

Once we get somebody other than BG & DJ that can rebound I think we become unstoppable. But there's 2 problems

Problem #1: Who the hell would want any of those players?

Problem #2: Who the hell would want any of those players while also giving up players that actually do things?

clipper*joe
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No it doesn't. You want to know FG%, 3pt%, TO, and defensive rebounding? You have the raw stats for those too. lol

we're talking about points allowed, that is it's own stat. If I want to know how well we defend the 3pt'er, I'll look at the stat. It's not that it forgets it, it's that those other stats have their own place.

clipper*joe
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Clippers also allow more FGA than Utah at a slightly worse % but not much of a difference. They also allow more 3pta than Utah does.

kjavis
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Our defense ain't bad, but it ain't great either, especially if you measure it against Docs old Boston teams which were usually in top 3 points allowed in the league.

Stats and figures are all good and well but my concern is against the elite teams, indivually we don't match up very well, other than Jordan our team is 'short'. We will struggle to contain players like Durant, Westbrook, LA, Harden and if we get as far as the finals Lebron, George.

JTClipsfan
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Our defense isn't the problem, our rebounding is. Everyone makes a big deal about DJ's boards, and his stats are impressive, but rebounding is a team effort and we are just not getting it done as a team. There have been games, recent games, where we give up way too many offensive rebounds. Just last week, I think it was against Miami, we gave up 3 offensive rebounds on missed 2nd free throws, which is just inexcusable. One of the dangers of playing so quick and always looking for a quick outlet pass to get out in transition is that players don't crash the defensive glass. I think sometimes we gotta be willing to surrender the fast break if it means limiting the opposing team to a one shot possession.

A_DOG_NAMED_BUD
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Good points. You're right, our rebounding of late has been pretty sketchy. I really hope our guards and SF step up their rebounding efforts. At CP3, who is a good rebounder for a short PG, is back in the lineup. My question is: How is the 6 foot Chris Paul averaging 4.6 rebs to the 6 foot 7 Dudley's 2.2? Dudley needs to step it up as we get close to the playoffs.

Clippersfan86
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In general we can all agree I'm sure with the premise. We are a solid to good defensive team. But with our coaching staff and players we should be much better.

Agent0
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Interesting, well I'm glad it works for you, though for me it doesn't give much of a representation of defensive ability except for just telling me a fact of this is how many points given up a game. Are you giving up those points because you don't defend well or because you play a lot of possessions, it doesn't tell me any of that.

Looking at the bolder part, didn't you just say the same thing I was saying? In terms of pts/possession implying that the defense is responsible, sure, it could be bad offense, but when our sample is 50+ games, of you are consistently doing something! the outliers don't have large weight. So yes, pts/possession over a couple of games would need more analysis of why, but over a large sample, we start to remove the noise, so it's fine. That's really true with every stat though, so I don't think any of us disagree there.

I agree that neither paints the perfect picture, and I said the same thing myself in my post, though in terms of rating defensive ability,mid have to respectfully disagree that they are both equally as efficacious. We'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

Agent0
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I thought we were talking about defense as the thread title stated, and Voyeur represented out defense by pints allowed, in which me and 86 and some others said points allowed is not a very good indicator.

I'm talking about defense at least. Defense isn't just how many points you allow. Defense really is just how effectively you allow to opponent to score. You defend well when you cause someone to score less effectively than their average ability.

In a singular game, both teams will have the same amount of possessions. Offensive rebounds aren't a new possession, they are an extension of a possession. A points allowed representing defense model says that if I allow 94 points in an 80 possession game, I defended better than if I allow 97 points in a 90 possession game, but everything within us sort of says huh? But how? Why?

Maybe you're discussing a different point that I was trying to address.

Agent0
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Don't negate small percentage differences. The difference in the Clippers and Jazz FG%, that measly 2% is the difference of 4 PPG on 80 FGA/G. That's a very big deal and shouldn't be brushed to the side, and the 3PT% difference would add about another 1 PPG over 20 or so 3PT attempts.

Those small percentages make a big difference in winning or losing games and in your defensive ability. The ability to consistently, the consistency being the key word, cause the average opposition to miss 2 more FGA/G than someone else can is a huge deal. That's really the difference between one teams defense and another, it's just the consistency to grab that 1-2 more rebounds that would have been offensive rebounds, to better contest that 8 more shots, 2 more each quarter that leads to 2 more misses over the whole game, to avoid one more silly foul. It's little things that if you consistently do add up to better defense.

What does it mean to "give up" more FGA. The Clippers want to play with pace, so they will give up more FGA than a team that wants to play slower, it's just natural. If you score quicker even if your opponent uses the whole clock, they will still end up playing more possessions in that game than if they played against someone else who also uses a ton of time to score. If they play more possessions, they will attempt more FGA. Your goal is to limit the FGM, not really the FGA because you can only force so many turnovers, and he only other way to limit FGA would be to play slower which would go against what you want to do if you want to push the ball. So in the end it's about who can limit scoring the best relative to possession because possessions will change per game, and can be vastly different per team, but who consistently over possessions can limit the opposition better.

Anyways, as long as what you're using works for you and makes sense and matches with what is actually happening, but if were talking defense, Utah is terrible and not anywhere close to the Clippers, that I know for sure, lol

Agent0
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Paul's injury didn't help and we still lack that high level defensive wing player, but I think as the team is, elite might be hard without a big who can defend well off the bench (Hollins fouls too much which gives up FT's and hurts defense and can't defensive rebound) and a high level wing defender.

The team can be in the top 7 range though, so we'll see how they fight to get there the rest of the way.

CP3Heliflopter
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I don't think we have much in terms of good defensive players. Paul was out 20 games. Redick was out 25+ games which doesn't help.

DJ and BG are capable defenders. Barnes is so-so at best this season. Dudley is passable. The rest of our team is mediocre defensively at best. Well Hedo is solid defensively this season but that is about it.

clipper321
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Is our defense decent? Sure. is it good enough to win a championship? I'd say no. However, with this many injuries to our starting players its going to be difficult to determine what the teams ceiling is.

A_DOG_NAMED_BUD
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Barnes and Dudley had a combined 2 rebounds tonight against the Spurs. 2!!! How are our SFs so useless not only on the boards, but on offense too?

namzug
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Yeah this game was frustrating. Especially in the defensive rebounding department. Everyone had their moments of staring at the ball. I only watched the second half, but saw perimeter players from the spurs come in and grab rebounds with ease.

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