clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Evaluating the D, 10 Games In

The Hornets played the 7th best defense in the league last year, acquired defensive wizards James Posey, and emitted various hoo-ha's about not trying to acquire "non-defense playing" guys like J.R. Smith. Of course, that made us all feel good about our defensive prospects for '08-'09. Posey makes us tough! Let's go out and D up like the Celtics! Woo!

Yeah. Hasn't happened.

2007-2008 November 2008
Defensive Efficiency 105.7 (7th) 107.1 (21st)
eFG% Allowed 50.1% (16th) 51.2% (26th)
FT/FG Allowed 18.4% (1st)

24.8% (17th)

DREB% 75.4% (3rd) 75.3% (2nd)
TO Rate Allowed 13.5% (12th) 14.9% (7th)

The defensive efficiency has has taken a dip for two major reasons: we're starting to foul too much and we're allowing opposing teams to light us up from the field. Over a one or two game stretch, it might not be too worrisome. But over a 10 game period, these increases are indicative of a larger problem.

Rising allowed eFG% and allowed FT are generally caused by the same issue- leaving opponents open. Defenders must either let open players shoot the ball or foul them to prevent them from shooting the ball. The Hornets have done that time and time again, regardless of the quality of their opposition. Why are so many opposing players wide open?

Poor penetration defense and poor perimeter rotations. Those two things were on prominent display versus Sacramento. Udrih, Salmons, Greene, you name it, were driving to the rim at will. I decided to mess around with some video software and highlight a couple examples from the Kings game. This is my first time doing any video, so sorry about the choppiness in some parts.

Watching those two plays in real speed, it's difficult to tell what went wrong. On the first one, it almost looks like it might be Peja's fault- why didn't he rotate to cover the ball? Only when you slow it down and watch West immaturely go for the steal does it become obvious. Ditto on the second play. At game speed, it looks like good passing from Sacramento just created chaos in the Hornets' D. In actuality, Chris Paul randomly decided to follow the ball (totally unnecessarily) and leave his man. I included these two plays because they were microcosms of our defense in general. If there's one thing to take away, it's this: our defense is struggling because of small, minute, mistakes. These are rookie mistakes. These are things you see defensively undisciplined teams do. Gambling. Ball watching.

Above all, these are coaching downfalls. A good coach sees Paul do that and bangs it into his head that he needs to stay at home. There's nothing he can do rotating underneath the hoop that Tyson Chandler and David West can't already take care of. A good coach sees West try for that steal and admonishes him for playing defense with his hands instead of his feet. These subtle mistakes manifest themselves in seemingly overarching and unsolvable issues- ridiculously high allowed field goal percentages, high rates of fouls. Until the coaching staff and the players recognize that good defense starts at the smallest of scales, this team will continue to struggle.