Monday, July 5, 2010

Bosh v. Stat: Apples to -- pineapples?

Good job by CBS Facts & Rumors blog to get a handle on Bosh v. Stoudemire.

Like everything else, context is required.
The first thing that you'll say is that the Raptors' defense was a crime against basketball. And you're absolutely right. It's certain that Bosh's defense was impacted by how terrible the rest of his team defended. But the individual play types are kind of startling in terms of where he was good and where he was bad. The same can be said for Stoudemire. Pick and roll being the biggest alarm bell if you're a team out there still looking at Bosh as your signature big. Stoudemire, despite being known as a terrible help defender, was ranked 18th in the league overall as a pick and roll defender, one of the more complex defensive sets requiring combination and knowledge of where your teammates are. 
But Stoudemire certainly struggled in ISO situations. If you put him straight up on a player, he gave up .96 points per possession, a far cry from Bosh's .65. And there were nearly twice as many instances of ISO defense versus pick-and-roll man situations.

As defense to Raptors, defense to Nash, i.e., nada, zilch, defenseless.

However, re Stoudemire's ISO deficiencies, does the ISO data specifcy position? In other words, was Stoudemire -- percentage%-wise -- isolated against smalls/bigs at the same rate and proportion Bosh was? Also, does the ISO data adjust for pace? Strength of schedule or opponent?

Or was Stoudemire, in part, "exposed" to more ISO situations because:

  • a) his backcourt -- Steve Nash & Jason Richardson -- was as bad or worse than Raptor guards defensively, leaving Stoudemire as the last guy standing between frequently unchecked dribble-penetrators and the rim; 
  • b) differences in pace are almost always overlooked when team or individual defenses are superficially evaluated. The Nash-led Suns have always led the league  in pace (no lower than 4th since 2004-05). The Bosh-era Raps are comparatively sluggish-to-midling even with shoot'em-up points like TJ Ford (Ford was bad, but Nash is still worse defensively). Faster pace = more possessions.
  • c) The West continues its edge as the more competitive conference  for better longer, more skilled/athletic bigs. So even if you concede Stoudemire's deficiencies, are they as egregiously deficient as Bosh's given the East's comparative paucity of quality bigs?  Shorter:  On a defensive scale of 1-to-10 with 10 being best, is Stoudemire's 5 really so inferior to Bosh's 6?
  • d) all of the above?