Defensive Charting Through 50 Games

by Schuyler Davis

The Bulls are looking like a playoff team as the NBA regular season winds down, but their defense is not one of the reasons for that. I can say that with a pretty fair degree of certainty after charting their individual defense for 50 games. The method is almost as subjective as you can get, but I think I (and hopefully anyone reading this) have learned something from it. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon were abused on the perimeter, while the return of Hinrich to the bench filled the defensive role vacated by the departure of Larry Hughes to New York. Sending Drew Gooden and Andres Nocioni to Sacramento for a plus defender in John Salmons looked good on paper for the Bulls defense, but I think it has been the offense that has been heading the charge as of late. Noah and Thomas appear to be plus defenders on the interior for Chicago, but as you can see just about everyone has more positive Help D plays than negative so it is hard to tell how their defense compares with other frontcourts in the league. I also think Thomas has a ways to go with one-on-one defense, he tries to block everything and ends up giving opposing forwards too much space with which to work.

One of the things I am really excited to see next year is how the entire defense responds to the probable loss of Ben Gordon. Most likely with John Salmons filling his spot, guard/forward penetration will be a lot harder with Salmons and Deng on the court at the same time. The maturation of Derrick Rose has been exciting to see on offense, but horrid on defense. Hopefully next year he will better learn to use his freakish athletic ability to frustrate opposing point guards. Speaking of next year, I plan to continue my charting of the Bulls, but with a more objective charting method. I am currently working on a method for evaluating a defense on a points allowed basis, dividing up the total points allowed to individual players to get a points allowed per game statistic for every player. It is still a work in progress, but I may do a couple of test runs during the playoffs. I hope you found my charting this year interesting at the least, thanks and I will be back next year with more charting of the lesser followed side of the game.

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