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263The Allen Iverson Project

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  • McKibbin, Stuart
    Oct 16 6:35 PM

      Over the summer I've charted the Lakers-Sixers Finals series like an assistant coach would, trying to analyse how the Lakers played Al Iverson. Maybe it's a method that might be used to analyze what's a good defensive player, maybe it's not, but here are the results:

      Fisher guarded Al on 230 possessions, and allowed Al 174 touches. AL shot 35-87 (40.2%) against Fish. Fish fouled him 17 times giving up just 13 FTA's (a lot of the fouls were "tempo" fouls early in a quarter before the bonus kicked in). Fish had 8 steals and 1 block.

      Lue guarded Al on 108 possessions and allowed Al 82 touches. Al shot 9-35 (25.7%) against Lue. Lue fouled him 6 times giving up 7 FTA's. Lue got 8 steals, 1 block.

      Kobe guardes Al on 54 possessions and allowed Al 42 touches. Al shot 7-18 (38.8%) against Kobe. Kobe fouled him 4 times giving up 6FTA's.

      Al was unguarded 22 times during the 5 games, he went 10-16 (62.5%) in that situation. The Lakers improved as the series went on in that matter---Al was unguarded 9 times just in Game 1 (like when he busted that three in OT).

      But scheme is everything. It wasn't a one-on-one battle, there were teammates out there. It's interesting that the Lakers doubled Al more times when Lue guarded him (25) than they did with Fish (23), even though Fish guarded him for twice as many possessions. I suspect this scheme allowed Lue to play Al more agressively knowing that the help was coming. Anyway, Al was doubled 58 times, he passed 39 times, was fouled by the doubler 7 times (good for 8 FTA's), turned it over 4 times, and went 1-8 shooting the ball. So doubling is good strategy (duh!). By the way, doubling seemed to be the only way to make Al pass the ball, passing it 39 times in 58 touches is 67%. If you remove the double situations Al on average passed only once in every four touches.

      Helping out after the original defender got beat on the drive was markedly less successful, usually because after Al had beat the original defender he could use his speed to avoid the help defender. In 61 help opportunities Iverson shot 16-36 (44.4%). The help defender(s) blocked six of the attempts, fouled Al another 7 times for 11 FTA's, made him pass it 18 times (for 3 assists) and got one measley turnover.

      Alright, so much for the defense. I'm still kind of doubtful of the usefulness of the analysis. It seems to me that even this kind of scouting analysis is limited. I mean, we just know Lue can guard this type of player provided his team helps him out with doubles 30% of the time that his man touches itI don't know if it means Lue is a "good defender".

      Is work of this sort of any value?

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