NBA Roundtable

Comment On The Picket Fence

In General NBA on October 31, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I was reading Tim W’s latest article on his website The Picket Fence and I noticed an interesting comment by Mike G

“Yes, I’m hard on him, but when you have the kind of talent he has, it’s a shame to waste it.”

Can’t a guy just have a bad game. Bargnani will never be a defensive monster but has a unique skill set that will allow him to impact most of the games he’ll play in.

Rashard Lewis and Lemarcus Aldridge are also below average rebounders but I never see anybody complaining about their sub-standard defence to this extent.

I started to write a response in the comments section but next thing you know I had over 700 words written … so I decided to post my thoughts on the topic here instead of clogging up Tim’s comment box.

Rashard Lewis

I thought Rashard Lewis was one of the best power forwards in the league on the defensive end of the floor last season.

Rashard’s pick and roll defense is outstanding. His general team defense is very good to excellent. And as Khandor mentioned in the comments, Lewis can defend other positions very effectively on switches.

In terms of one-on-one defense, Lewis is very good to excellent against power forwards who rely on quickness and good against power forwards who rely on power (Boozers of the world).

Rashard Lewis doesn’t the credit he deserves for the large positive effect he has on Orlando’s defense.

Note: I complain about Lewis’ rebounding quite a bit … but his quality offensive + defensive play allow him to have a positive impact on the game despite his lousy board work.

LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge on the other hand has real issues. His pick and roll defense is below par and his defensive rotations are slow + all too often missing in action.

His man to man defense is fairly mediocre but due to his size (seven feet and very athletic) but most players don’t attack him as often as they should ( because they normally do well against him when they do so) so his mark normally posts below average offensive numbers against him. So a good-to-very good man-to-man defender mainly due to … intimidation? I guess that’s what we’ll have to call it … rather than defensive ability.

Overall, I think he’s a mediocre or slightly below average defender. It’s an area of his game that he needs to improve.

If he can become a very good defensive player … then wow … because Portland’s twin towers could end up having a Celtics’ (KG + Perk) like impact on the game. It should be Aldridge’s top priority (this is the third year in row I’ve said this though! Disappointing that it hasn’t happened yet).

Note: Aldridge is a slightly below average rebounder but he’s a lot better than Bargnani. In terms of rebounding percentage, he grabs 20% more rebounds than Bargnani while on the floor. Aldridge also does an excellent job boxing out his opponent which adds more value to his rebounding. So overall, as a rebounder, he has a lot more value than Bargnani.

I think defense is a much larger concern than rebounding for Aldridge. That’s the area of his game that he needs to step up the most.

Andrea Bargnani

Bargnani on the other hand is a very poor team defender and a poor man-to-man defender. His pick and roll defense is atrocious both on (defending the screener) and off the ball (last big near the hoop). His defensive rotations are poor. He doesn’t protect the rim either. And as Khandor pointed out, Bargnani can’t effectively switch onto players at other positions.

As for his man-to-man defense, I think he’s a good-to-very good post defender (playing against back to the basket players) … but that his one-on-one defense is all other areas is lacking (can’t defend bigs who can drive, who play off the elbow, who can shoot from midrange or from the perimeter, and doesn’t pressure bigs who pass the ball).

Since there are only a few quality back to the basket scorers in the NBA these days the added value Bargnani brings as an above average post defender is limited. As a result, I think his one-on-one defense overall is poor.

In summary, I think Bargnani’s defense is far worse than either Rashard Lewis’ or LaMarcus Aldridge’s defense.

Note: Add up Bargnani’s negative defensive contribution and his abysmal rebounding and you have a player who’s having a large negative effect on his team. This forces Bargnani to make up that difference on the other end of the floor and that is incredibly difficult to do.

Conclusion

To conclude, I think Bargnani’s flaws defensively + rebounding wise are a lot worse than either of the two other players and is thus a larger issue for Bargnani than it is for the other two.

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  1. Another great post. I never did give due credit to Rashard Lewis’ defense in my response to Mike. He was a big part of the reason Orlando was one of the top defensive teams, no doubt. I don’t know if I agree he’s as god as you say, but he is most definitely underrated.

    Oh, and just so you know, my blog is The Picket Fence, not White Picket Fence. The name comes from the movie Hoosiers, when Shooter runs the picket fence to win the game.

  2. Tim W.,

    Oh sorry about the name gaffe! I got it right in the post and wrong in the title.

    “White picket fence and two and half kids” — it’s the automatic thought when I hear (read) the words picket fence!

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