Team defense visualizations for a boring trade deadline

Face it: Greg Monroe is not going to be dealt. Kyle Lowry is not going to be dealt. Pau Gasol is not going to be dealt. We’re all going to wake up on Friday and ask ourselves, “wait a second, wasn’t yesterday the trade deadline?” Here’s a look at some NBA defenses to ease the pain.

How about them Pacers? The boxes here are colored according to the league average, so blue indicates that opponents shoot worse than the league average when they face the Pacers, while warm colors indicate that opponents shoot better than the league average. No big surprises here–the Pacers have a dominant defense. But something interesting jumped out at me and I’ve flagged it by labeling the PPS (points per shot) of high volume locations. The PPS for some midrange shots is actually higher than the PPS for some 3-pt and rim shots! That’s just crazy. Generally speaking, mid-range shots are a poor value compared to 3s and shots at the rim. In a version of this graph that used 4-week old data, there were even more mid-range locations that paid off, but it looks Indiana has even gotten a little better since then. Just brutal.

Opposing FG% compared to league average, Indiana Pacers

More graphs below the jump!

Here’s the Orlando Magic. Zach Lowe has an article this morning about Orlando and I like to check my visualizations against Zach’s eye to see how things match up. In this case, Zach suggests that the Orlando defensive strategy is inside out. They are trying to protect the rim even if it means leaving guys open at the 3pt line. That story seems to check out. Although shots at the rim are kind of a mixed bag, with some over the league average and some under, there’s enough blue under the basket to suggest that Orlando is doing a pretty good job given that it doesn’t have an elite rim protector or anything close. At the same time, you can see how this is hurting them some at the 3pt line and even at mid-range.

Opposing FG% compared to league average, Orlando Magic

Next up are my Dallas Mavericks. I’m a big homer so expect more on this at some point,1 but one interesting thing that jumps out at me right away is that opposing offenses seem to take very few mid-range shots against the Mavericks. You can see that Orlando and Indiana try to force these shots because again, these shots have lower PPS than others. The Mavs don’t force many mid-range shots, and their defense at the basket is atrocious.

Opposing FG% compared to league average, Dallas Mavericks

Is there another team you’d like to see? Leave me a comment.

  1. My guess is that this will come in the form of a huge post about who the Mavericks should try to sign this summer.
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