How Rashard Lewis Matches Up Against David West

This is a really great article from Miles Wray about Spoelstra’s decision to put Rashard Lewis on David West in game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. I want to add a little footnote to it. Miles’ main point is that Rashard Lewis is pretty fast for a 6’10 guy and that allows him not only to play West aggressively, but to help out on other players and then recover quickly and get back to West. This leads to more turnovers.

This turns out to be an interesting case for my Adjusted Defensive Impact visualization too though. The construction of ADI is similar to Adjusted Plus Minus approaches1, but this is a case where APM and its various flavors don’t tell the full story. If you take a look at Jeremias Engelmann’s xRapm stats, you can see that Rashard Lewis is a slight negative on defense. But take a look at his adjusted defensive impact viz:

Rashard Lewis adjusted defensive impact

Lewis isn’t a great defender overall, but he’s a pretty decent defender near the basket. More than that, he’s especially good on the right side close to the basket and in the midrange. Guess who loves those spots? Here’s David West’s season shot chart from NBA.com:

David West shot chart

This is not really the story of last night–West actually shot well when Lewis was in the game (7 for 12) and I think Wray’s assessment is pretty accurate: Lewis was valuable not because he shut down West (who had a good game overall) but because he forced turnovers. But it means that Lewis can do the things he does well, per Wray’s analysis, without being a defensive liability in his matchup with west.

  1. Huge methods post is incoming very soon by the way.
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