Bargnani's Impressive Defense
Old 08-24-2012, 05:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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And now for something completely different...

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In the never ending debate about who or what Andrea Bargnani is as an NBAer, his defensive presence, or rather his perceived lack of a defensive presence, is often one of the starting points.

I began noticing an improvement in Bargnani’s defensive game during the second half of his third NBA season (the 2009 portion of the 2008-09 season), and for the most part, that defence has slowly continued to improve since then.

I never saw him as being worth a lick as a help-defender, but it was becoming obvious to me and others that at the very least, Bargs was evolving into an underrated one-on-one defender, if not a solid one. While Chris Bosh was getting praise for taking on more of a defensive role to help the U.S. capture Olympic gold in 2008, Bargnani might have been out-performing him on the defensive end in Toronto (Before you go apeshit on me, no, I am not suggesting Bargnani is better than Bosh, just that he was probably always a better one-on-one defender than Bosh was).

But even those of us who could see Bargnani’s defensive improvements couldn’t have expected this:
On Friday, well known NBA web writer Matt Moore dug into the statistics to write one of the better and more in-depth Bargnani pieces you’ll find. What Moore found in stats provided by Synergy Sports is that Andrea ranked in the 88th percentile in post defence, the 56th percentile in isolation defence and a mind blowing rank in the 95th percentile in overall man-to-man defence this past season.

Let that sink in for a moment.

What the Synergy stats don’t take into account is the very downfall of Bargnani’s defence, and that’s his absolute bewilderment when it comes to the concept of help-defence (Synergy’s defensive measure takes into account the man a player defends from possession to possession, but doesn’t take into account the fact that a player failed to rotate properly to cover a player who has blown by one of his teammates. If that now unmarked player scores, the onus falls on the player that was initially guarding the scorer, which is the player that was blown by).

Moore, though, does go into Bargnani’s help struggles in his fair assessment, which includes the observation that Bargs might almost be too locked in to his initial defensive assignment of guarding his own man.
http://blogs.thescore.com/raptorblog...nsive-numbers/
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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(Before you go apeshit on me, no, I am not suggesting Bargnani is better than Bosh,

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Old 08-24-2012, 05:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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We all know Bargs is not a bad defender 1 on 1 already what is this teaching us?
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by halphbreedballer View Post
We all know Bargs is not a bad defender 1 on 1 already what is this teaching us?
The fact that hes not just not bad at it, but elite at it.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Does it also not reveal that he's assigned the weaker offensive player? A big in this league needs to be able to offer help to be worth all that much on that end. Tim Duncan didn't stop Shaq all that much, but he scored on him, and helped to stop anybody but Shaq.

Bargnani has some tools. He just doesn't react well. He sometimes works best while guarding a pg with the ball, because he can play so far off a small and not need to react so quickly, and also be able to recover with his length. If he's got good position on any guy with the ball, he's miles ahead of any other time when he struggles with positioning and seeing both his man and the ball. But in a fluid game it's tough to maximize on the number of those occasions. Casey did a nice job of simplifying his movements and making his job less about reacting and just trying to minimize positioning problems. The question will be how far the team can go with that.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by pzabby View Post
The fact that hes not just not bad at it, but elite at it.
That's what struck me when I read it as well. I wasn't thinking elite, but while most gave him some credit for his man to man D maybe he's not getting all the credit he deserves. Now about that help D....
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Does it also not reveal that he's assigned the weaker offensive player? A big in this league needs to be able to offer help to be worth all that much on that end. Tim Duncan didn't stop Shaq all that much, but he scored on him, and helped to stop anybody but Shaq.
As for the assignment, the original article (I suggest you click through because it is much better than the score article) does cover that, and suggests that based on anecdotal evidence Bargnani covers the better player a large enough chunk of the time that assignment is not the root cause of those stats. Disagree if you like, but it was addressed.
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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As for the assignment, the original article (I suggest you click through because it is much better than the score article) does cover that, and suggests that based on anecdotal evidence Bargnani covers the better player a large enough chunk of the time that assignment is not the root cause of those stats. Disagree if you like, but it was addressed.
Stats and anecdotal evidence are not a great mix in my books. I have seen him take the lesser offensive big often enough to be very guarded about calling him elite. An elite defender is not constantly slow getting back and looking to Amir or whoever to take his cover. Now that happened a lot less last season, but it still happened too often, especially for a guy that works round the perimeter offensively.

I just read the original and agree that it's much much better. I do still disagree with the idea that he fails on help because he sticks to his own man too much. First, it's a weak argument that really just points to AB's poor reaction. Second, I have seen him neither offer help nor cover his man, but rather end up in no-man's land time after time. Third, I have seen him sticking to his man as suggested, but losing sight of the ball, including when it goes up on a shot, only to have his cover easily grab the rebound. But overall the points are reasonable. And yes - he has the tools like McGee, but lacks the reaction, while McGee over-reacts to everything. That was a nice observation. You combine both those guys and you have an all-time great.

Last edited by LX; 08-24-2012 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Defending on the ball is easy for him givin his length and discipline in ignoring pump fakes. If only more players could be that disciplined.
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I assume that the synergy stats account for the value of the player being defended. It's as much about how many points they score as about how many fewer points they score. Otherwise the best defenders would be all among bench players.

Subjectively, I always felt that part of bargnani's help defense struggles was that he's very reluctant to leave his man. Much too often I've seen him glued to his man while another player goes uncontested to the basket. Would be interesting to analyze why that happens, I suspect part of the reason is he doesn't know how to properly make that decisio. To leave or stay, part because he's lazy and part because he's been accused too often of being a poor defender that he's afraid to leave his man score.

But the truly relevant point is that even if you call him elite (which is pretty crazy), his help defense is so poor that it more than negates his strengths. Otherwise, how can one explain his horrendous +/- stats, especially given his good offensive skills. However, last season there were some promising signs early, and we can only hope that his poor performance in the second half was due to his injuries. We'll soon know, and it would be fantastic for us if he can finally turn that corner once and for all.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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If you want to be subjective then you can't blame Bargs completely for his poor help D - that's a systemic issue and lack of trust in his team mates. Early on in his career Bargs would leave his man way too much to defend a cutter and either a) ramp up fouls b) no team rotation to cover his man who would often score. Result - pulled by Smitch and sat at the end of a bench, which is not teaching IMO. Smitch was a coach not a teacher. Now Bargs sticks to his man too much. Bargs and a number of the Raptors are a product of poor defensive coaching - how many times have we shook our heads watching Raps leak off their man, rotating poorly, etc. IMO, If Bargs has the instincts and has been taught to hone them to be an offensive threat AND to play man defense he can be taught help defense, though it has to be the entire team, not just Bargs. I'm tired of this lazy argument or he's not smart enough to get it. Casey has shown with the right system the entire team gets better. Another year of that and we'll have a number of posters changing their tune.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Stats and anecdotal evidence are not a great mix in my books.
You're kidding right?
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:25 AM   #13 (permalink)
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You're kidding right?
Really? You don't see the potential for magnifying the misleading aspects of both? Dig into any crazy conspiracy theory and you will see a nice mix of numbers and anecdotes. Give me one or the other and offer your opinion and let me settle on my own opinion and I'm fine. But don't try to suggest numbers and anecdotes can buttress each other and form something pure and beyond opinion, or you'll piss me off.
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:50 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Really? You don't see the potential for magnifying the misleading aspects of both? Dig into any crazy conspiracy theory and you will see a nice mix of numbers and anecdotes. Give me one or the other and offer your opinion and let me settle on my own opinion and I'm fine. But don't try to suggest numbers and anecdotes can buttress each other and form something pure and beyond opinion, or you'll piss me off.
I'm really not worried about pissing you off - just saying

I would expect you to form your own opinion, we all should. Anything can be magnified one way or the other, depends on which stats or anecdotes one chooses to focus on. However, I feel the two can balance each other out - one needs the other to keep each in check to some degree. Too many times there are debates on RF and when stats are failing there is a switch to anecdotal observation/evidence or vice versa. The moment one brings both to the table, typically when one backs up the other, the debate becomes the most educated and informative I've seen. Basically, back up what you're saying, cause when one does, the debate rarely deteriorates into blatant arguing and oft times name calling. I'm implying this is you by any means just saying in general.

Regarding stats and anecdotes, I'm not sure how you have one without the other.
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Old 08-25-2012, 10:05 AM   #15 (permalink)
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If the approach is to take observations and then dig into as much statistical evidence as possible, including those that vary from initial conclusions, then I have no problem. That's good stuff. But look at stats first, assume some kind of meaning such as elite qualities being exhibited, and then offer anecdotal suggestions to back that up, and I won't be impressed.

Consider the anecdotal evidence regarding the harder covers. Funny, but I can recall far too many times when he switched off those guys, or when he would be assigned Ben Wallace and still get torched.

It isn't hard to just express what is seen and clearly visible from game to game. Every off-season we see stats and memory-based observations that imply that he is "impressive" and the problems originate with Jose Calderon and Sam Mitchell. Whatever. Javale McGee has impressive aspects to his defensive game. Jose Calderon does some impressive things defensively. Boris Diaw looked pretty nice next to Chandler. When Bargnani can consistently do things that help to create stops against offenses of some complexity then I will stop being cynical. Otherwise I think there is a ceiling that this team will not break through, unless the team as a whole can take on those responsibilities effectively. There's no doubt he's shown improvement and is playing basketball on both ends like never before. Now I just need to see that consistently, and see where he fits in a scheme that can be relied on beyond the fodder teams.

Ultimately, I don't see where stats offer a great basis for defining defensive effectiveness. They can point to ineffective results, but even there you will have excuses. Basketball is a fluid game. If it was just about two guys matching up in the post like Olympic wrestlers, then I could see where percentiles regarding man to man defense would mean something. Instead you have a ton of team aspects that need to be accounted for, even with regard to man on man situations (how often does he need help or get help; how often does he switch off and why). Last season I saw him functioning on the defensive end from the start to the finish of possessions enough to make me really take notice. But when he was less than 100 percent that pretty much stopped. There's hope, but there is still nothing conclusive in my mind.

Last edited by LX; 08-25-2012 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 08-25-2012, 03:37 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Bargs had a great season last year. When Bargs came back from injury in a season where there is a game every other day it's difficult to get your game back. But if u take note of the last 7 games he played he put goo stats up. Media and fans say he only had 13 good games don't know what there talking about. I don't know why it bothers me when media members say that.

they should know better they get paid to watch games, to me it seems like amateur hour when they only say he had 13 games in the early season and went back to Bargs of the past

when we all know he was never healthy again for the season, came back after a long lay off, got criticized for taking time off to heal which in it self is ridiculous becuase if it was antoher player they would have never heard that,

like i said look back at his last 7 games before his injury finally made him limp off the court,

that type of injury is sneaky, you don't heal it properly it could ruin a season or two

Last edited by rapsmannn; 08-26-2012 at 01:42 AM.
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:19 PM   #17 (permalink)
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His style is impetuous, his defense is impregnable, his is ferocious, he wants your heart...
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:36 PM   #18 (permalink)
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his defense is so potent he made all of the ladies in the first three rows pregnant.
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Old 08-26-2012, 11:47 AM   #19 (permalink)
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You put a 7ft poll close to the basket and it will do better defensively than Bargs
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Old 08-26-2012, 07:01 PM   #20 (permalink)
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