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Gary Payton's D

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  • Dean Oliver
    Payton won election to the first team All-D for the 8th straight year. Does he deserve it? Some numbers. Below are shown several stats SteeleRank: Doug
    Message 1 of 4 , May 5, 2001
      Payton won election to the first team All-D for the 8th straight
      year. Does he deserve it?

      Some numbers. Below are shown several stats

      SteeleRank: Doug Steele's evaluation of defensive skills by
      comparing how a player's matchup does against their average during
      the season. #1 means the best player at their position (not
      overall).
      Indiv Def. Rtg: My estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions.
      Team Def. Rtg: Seattle's number of points allowed per 100
      possessions.
      LgAvgRtg: The league average every year of points allowed per 100
      possessions. (Compare with Indiv and Team Def. Rtgs)

      Defensive Rating
      SteeleRank Indiv Team LgAvgRtg
      1994 NA 101.5 99.3 104.4
      1995 3 105.5 104.4 106.5
      1996 2 100.2 100.6 105.9
      1997 1 100.8 100.9 104.8
      1998 8 101.2 101.7 103.2
      1999 20 103.7 104.3 100.4
      2000 15 101.9 102.7 102.3
      2001 >20 104.6 103.7 101.4

      Between 94 and 98, I think the numbers were pretty consistent with
      Gary being an all-defensive player. My numbers had 95 not being as
      good as Doug's suggested, but still not bad. In the last 2-3 years,
      though, both Doug's numbers and mine have suggested that Payton's
      defense as well as the Sonics' team defense have fallen off
      significantly. This corresponds, interestingly, to Kemp's
      departure from (Baker's arrival in, Karl's departure from) Seattle
      pretty well also. In Seattle, they are pretty aware that Gary's D is
      not where it was; admittedly, this year's D problems were due to a
      bunch of very slow guys on the court almost all the time.

      I saw Payton several times this year and he was not doing as much
      defensively as he could. He really hated Westphal because Westphal
      didn't preach defense nearly as much as George Karl. He didn't
      play as hard as a result. It may be that Gary has plenty of D left
      in him, but his general discord about how the team D has slackened
      was reflected in his hustle.

      One of my points here also is that the defensive awards are all
      pretty poorly determined. Payton shouldn't have made the team, I'm
      pretty convinced. It takes usually a year or two for voters to
      figure out who really is good and bad defensively. It's simply hard
      to do.

      Dean Oliver
      Journal of Basketball Studies
    • msg_53@hotmail.com
      ... Good question, Dean; I have long thought that this defensive award is a mixed bag of bones thrown to players who seem to deserve something for their
      Message 2 of 4 , May 8, 2001
        --- In APBR_analysis@y..., "Dean Oliver" <deano@t...> wrote:
        >
        > Payton won election to the first team All-D for the 8th straight
        > year. Does he deserve it?

        Good question, Dean; I have long thought that this defensive award
        is a mixed bag of bones thrown to players who seem to
        deserve "something" for their troubles; whether laboring in the
        shadows for a champion, or for carrying a poor team to respectability.
        Does Doug Steele's (or your) defensive index make the assumption
        that a player generally guards his counterpart at the same position?
        That is my impression, and I am sure you agree this is a rough
        approximation at best. Players go in and out at different times,
        many guys play more than one position, etc.
        There are certainly many cases of good defensive centers guarding
        power forwards who are scoring threats. Point guards who are good
        defenders often check the opponent's shooting guard, etc.
        Has anyone got an approximation of the pct. of time a player
        actually is guarding the same position on the other team? Not sure
        if such an index would help anything, but it might lead to this
        number having a estimable degree of credibility.
        I am still looking for wide availability of individual +/- (is
        that the accepted term?) ratings. I have no doubt than we can
        effectively measure offense, optimistically; and that we can factor
        out the total team +/- to reach an individual's worth; and finally,
        that we can factor the player's offense out of his total worth, and
        that what remains could be called his defensive value.
        I propose that our mission in here be to uncover a source of the
        holy +/- grail. I have read objections to its significance, but I
        haven't found one that holds water. If you can point me in the right
        direction, I will get right on it.


        > One of my points here also is that the defensive awards are all
        > pretty poorly determined. Payton shouldn't have made the team, I'm
        > pretty convinced. It takes usually a year or two for voters to
        > figure out who really is good and bad defensively. It's simply
        hard
        > to do.
        >
        > Dean Oliver
        > Journal of Basketball Studies
      • Dean Oliver
        ... position? Doug s method looks at matchups, yes. Mine doesn t. The methods have different strengths and weaknesses. That s why I look at them both. A key
        Message 3 of 4 , May 9, 2001
          --- In APBR_analysis@y..., msg_53@h... wrote:
          > --- In APBR_analysis@y..., "Dean Oliver" <deano@t...> wrote:

          > Does Doug Steele's (or your) defensive index make the assumption
          > that a player generally guards his counterpart at the same
          position?

          Doug's method looks at matchups, yes. Mine doesn't. The methods
          have different strengths and weaknesses. That's why I look at them
          both.

          A key thing I've observed (and recorded) is that there is a lot of
          help in defense. Big men are involved in defense a lot more. Every
          drive to the middle brings a big man to help whereas not every post
          move brings a perimeter guy to help. Big men then generally are keys
          to defense, both positively and negatively. This also means that,
          yes, players don't guard the same person all the time -- both because
          they go in and out at different times and because of switching/help.
          There is also the problem of fast breaks, where no one is guarding
          certain people.

          > Has anyone got an approximation of the pct. of time a player
          > actually is guarding the same position on the other team? Not sure
          > if such an index would help anything, but it might lead to this
          > number having a estimable degree of credibility.

          I have a few game scores where I've tracked how often different
          players were involved in stopping the opponent and in allowing a
          score.

          > I am still looking for wide availability of individual +/- (is
          > that the accepted term?) ratings. I have no doubt than we can
          > effectively measure offense, optimistically; and that we can factor
          > out the total team +/- to reach an individual's worth; and finally,
          > that we can factor the player's offense out of his total worth, and
          > that what remains could be called his defensive value.

          This may be a way to start getting at defense. On its own, I am one
          of those people who doesn't see too much value in the +/- #. But
          perhaps it can be used to get at defense. There is still strong
          correlation problems (always playing with the same people) and the
          fact that it often reflects substitution pattern.

          The +/- number is often in Harvey Pollack's stat guide, which Bob
          Chaikin has for several years.


          Dean Oliver
          Journal of Basketball Studies
        • bchaikin@aol.com
          i agree with dean, the +/- ratio (as they call it) is in my opinion useless. yet a number of nba teams use it (IBM data mining techniques extract most of
          Message 4 of 4 , May 9, 2001

            i agree with dean, the +/- "ratio" (as "they" call it) is in my opinion
            useless. yet a number of nba teams use it (IBM "data mining" techniques
            extract most of it). the bottom line is what good is a part time player with
            a very positive +/- on a team where most of the starters have negative +/-
            (or vice versa). the bottom line is who plays at the same time with whom, and
            as far as i know that info is not closely tracked by nba teams. obviously the
            teams with high W-L % will have starters with a high +/- ratio and those
            teams with a low W-L % will have a low +/-...

            in hockey its one thing because players tend to play with specific "lines",
            but not so in the nba...

            i do have pollack's guides from 88-89 to 96-97, some of which have the +/-,
            and i've looked closely at the listings of +/- without being able to discern
            any appreciable pattern...

            as for how often players guard their "counterparts" the answer is well over
            50% of the time (meaning in seconds and minutes), and my guess is 80% of the
            time if not more (i used to watch hundreds of nba games on tape over a decade
            ago). however, the problem is that those defensive statistics that the league
            keeps track of (steals, blocks, charging, fouls) occur much more often when
            an offensive player loses his man and is then guarded by one of the other 4
            opponents. players who block 200-300 or more shots a year block all 5
            opponents shots, not just the man he is directly guarding, many many fouls
            occur on switches, and i'd guess most steals are not by the man directly
            guarding the player with the ball but made on pass attempts...

            bob chaikin
            bchaikin@...


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