FanPost

Jazz vs. Pacers: Defending Elite Point Guards, 2015-16

Last year, a common sentiment was that the Jazz had trouble defending elite point guards. This is one of the reasons why I was really excited about getting George Hill, as well as getting Dante Exum back: their aptitude for elite perimeter defense. There's no question our ability to defend point guards next year should improve. But to see exactly how bad we were last year, and how much we can expect improvement, I charted how successful opposing point guards were against us last season, and compared them to both the league average, and Indiana. To measure level of point guard success, I used six different measures: Pts/36 minutes, eFG%, Asts/36 minutes, TOVs/36 minutes, +/- per 100 Possessions, and PIE (player impact estimate). All of these are fairly straightforward: all of the per-36 stats measure how many points/assists/turnovers the opposing point guard had for every 36 minutes they were playing, eFG% is like FG%, but weights for 3-pointers being worth 1.5 times as much, +/- per 100 possessions is the player's net rating for every 100 possessions they were on the floor (+ means they were helping their team, - means they had a negative impact), and PIE is a per-minute productivity rating that takes into account things like assists and fg%. It's kind of like PER, but not as weighted around scoring. Higher is better; a PIE of 10.0 indicates an about-average starter, 14.0 is about all-star level, and 18.0 means they should probably be in the MVP conversation.

I charted all six of these statistics for 19 point guards that I consider "good" to "elite". I only included point guards that had a clear positive impact, which is why Derrick Rose, Michael Carter-Williams, and D'Angelo Russell aren't on here. I also didn't chart point guards who didn't play enough minutes (so even though Cory Joseph and Shaun Livingston had clear positive impacts, they don't make the cut), and I didn't bother to spend time charting scrub point guards like Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack. The only ones I was a little bit iffy about putting in were Dennis Schroder, because he only played 20 mpg, and CJ McCollum, because he's not technically a point guard, even though he plays like one and spent 34% of his minutes there. Just letting you know this is completely arbitrary, and I didn't use any statistical measures when deciding what point guards to put in, although most people would agree that the top 19 point guards in the league list looks about like this.

For each of the 19 point guards, I charted the six statistics:

(a) For the regular season against all teams

(b) For the regular season against Indiana

(c) For the regular season against Utah

The last three rows show the average for all 19 point guards. The second average is adjusted for # of games played. For example, Kyrie Irving having one really bad game against us would have been weighted the same as Russell Westbrook playing four games against us. To adjust for this, I made another chart (which is too big to put on here), where I duplicated each row for however many times they played. So, Tony Parker played Utah 4 times and Indiana 2, so I entered his Utah data 4 times and his Indiana data twice. I then recalculated the averages, and it actually did make a very sizable difference, especially in +/- per 100 possessions against Utah (I think Kyrie Irving's one time -28.0 net rating in his game against us really dragged the average down). The difference shows the difference between their season average for a certain statistic and their average for that same statistic against both teams.

Keep in mind that this chart is not perfect; for example, eFG% is weighted equally for all point guards (adjusting only for # of games played), regardless of how many shots they took. So Ricky Rubio's eFG% and Damain Lillard's eFG% are weighted the same, even though Lillard probably took more than twice as many shots as Rubio did. It also does not control for the minutes where George Hill was out, or if George Hill was injured for a certain game, it does not take that into account either. It only measures how effective, on average, Utah and Indiana were at defending elite point guards.

Without further ado, here it is:

Player

Points/36 Minutes Regular Season

Points/36 Minutes Against Indiana

Points/36 Minutes Against Utah

eFG% Regular Season

eFG% Against Indiana

eFG% Against Utah

Assists/36 Minutes Regular Season

Assists/36 Minutes Against Indiana

Assists/36 Minutes Against Utah

Turnovers/36 Minutes Regular Season

Turnovers/36 Minutes Against Indiana

Turnovers/36 Minutes Against Utah

+/- Per 100 Possessions Regular Season

+/- Per 100 Possessions Against Indiana

+/- Per 100 Possessions Against Utah

PIE Regular Season

PIE Against Indiana

PIE Against Utah

Kyle Lowry

20.6

21.9

24.2

0.516

0.519

0.568

6.2

4.3

5.1

2.8

5.6

4.6

6.7

4.1

7.4

14.5

12.7

18.2

Isaiah Thomas

24.8

24.0

25.0

0.488

0.485

0.421

6.9

5.9

8.7

3.0

3.7

1.7

5.3

2.8

-16.4

14.2

13.3

11.8

Goran Dragic

15.5

13.5

17.2

0.513

0.544

0.522

6.4

5.1

2.3

2.8

4.3

4.6

4.3

-0.4

-16.0

10.7

7.9

9.3

Jeff Teague

19.8

18.3

27.2

0.496

0.543

0.583

7.5

6.7

6.8

3.5

4.6

4.5

1.4

5.4

10.5

11.9

11.9

19.2

Dennis Schroeder

19.5

14.8

13.0

0.471

0.379

0.333

7.8

8.6

9.4

4.1

3.4

1.4

6.8

-1.5

10.7

12.1

7.5

9.2

Kemba Walker

21.1

25.3

31.5

0.495

0.517

0.589

5.3

7.3

4.2

2.1

1.9

3.3

4.1

10.6

-3.4

13.5

16.6

23.5

John Wall

19.8

25.2

21.6

0.467

0.528

0.500

10.2

8.9

10.5

4.1

6.4

3.2

1.7

-6.7

1.4

14.4

14.7

18.9

Kyrie Irving

22.5

24.7

15.0

0.496

0.539

0.326

5.4

6.4

3.2

2.7

3.7

0.0

6.2

-5.2

-28.0

12.2

15.2

5.7

Reggie Jackson

22.1

23.5

27.8

0.482

0.500

0.636

7.3

6.5

4.6

3.3

2.7

2.9

2.6

0.0

1.6

13.0

13.0

20.8

Russell Westbrook

24.6

18.2

23.3

0.489

0.471

0.428

10.9

15.8

8.3

4.5

4.4

2.8

11.0

-3.7

21.1

18.8

15.3

20.6

Damian Lillard

25.3

30.2

29.1

0.497

0.579

0.621

6.9

5.6

6.1

3.3

3.6

4.4

1.7

11.3

12.7

14.3

16.5

18.9

CJ McCollum

21.6

21.0

25.7

0.516

0.412

0.588

4.4

4.2

5.1

2.5

2.6

1.7

2.7

8.3

15.1

11.2

7.8

15.5

Ricky Rubio

11.9

14.8

12.2

0.427

0.650

0.484

10.2

8.9

11.6

3.0

4.9

3.2

0.4

-1.4

5.2

12.6

19.2

15.4

Tony Parker

15.6

14.3

20.4

0.512

0.475

0.529

6.9

6.1

6.8

2.4

1.4

0.9

10.6

-5.8

26.3

11.2

10.2

17.5

Deron Williams

15.7

12.8

21.8

0.477

0.375

0.610

6.5

8.5

6.0

2.6

4.3

2.5

0.0

-8.9

10.4

10.0

6.9

16.1

Mike Conley

17.5

18.7

15.5

0.478

0.444

0.361

7.0

10.2

4.3

1.7

2.8

2.0

1.8

17.1

-0.5

12.9

18.5

5.5

Jrue Holiday

21.4

15.3

20.3

0.485

0.458

0.482

7.7

4.1

7.4

3.3

3.1

4.1

0.7

-5.5

4.7

12.9

9.7

12.9

Stephen Curry

31.7

33.8

21.1

0.630

0.655

0.522

7.0

10.9

6.9

3.5

3.0

3.2

17.6

24.2

17.8

19.7

23.7

14.9

Chris Paul

21.5

25.9

22.0

0.517

0.619

0.638

11.0

7.0

9.7

2.9

4.0

1.5

11.2

-12.8

0.7

18.4

23.2

19.3

Average (Not Adjusting for # of Games Played)

20.7

20.9

21.8

0.497

0.510

0.513

7.4

7.4

6.7

3.1

3.7

2.8

5.1

1.7

4.3

13.6

13.9

15.4

Average (Adjusting for # of Games Played)

20.8

20.9

21.6

0.498

0.503

0.514

7.4

7.3

6.9

3.1

3.8

2.8

5.1

2.0

7.1

13.6

13.1

15.6

Difference Between Average and vs. Team

-

0.1

0.8

-

0.005

0.016

-

-0.1

-0.5

-

0.7

-0.3

-

-3.1

2.0

-

-0.5

2.0

If you're like most people and you find this chart large and confusing to look at, I'll sum up the conclusions for you here:

Average statistics for these 19 "elite" point guards (adjusting for games played): 20.8 points/36 minutes, 0.498 eFG%, 7.4 assists/36 minutes, 3.1 turnovers/36 minutes, +5.1 points/100 possessions, 13.6 PIE.

Against Indiana: 20.9 points/36 minutes, 0.503 eFG%, 7.3 assists/36 minutes, 3.8 turnovers/36 minutes, +2.0 points/100 possessions, 13.1 PIE.

Against Utah: 21.6 points/36 minutes, 0.514 eFG%, 6.9 assists/36 minutes, 2.8 turnovers/36 minutes, +7.1 points/100 possessions, 15.6 PIE.

So Indiana let opposing point guards score about the same number of points on slightly higher efficiency, with about the same number of assists, but forced them to commit 0.7 more turnovers/36 minutes, held them to a net rating 3.1 points lower than their net rating for the season, and also held them to a 0.5 lower PIE.

Utah let opposing point guards score about a point more/36 minutes on significantly higher efficiency (0.514 eFG% to 0.498 eFG%), held them to 0.5 lower assists/36 minutes, but forced 0.3 less turnovers, allowed them a net rating of 2.0 points/100 possessions above their season average, and allowed them to have a PIE of 15.6 when their average for the season was 13.6

These differences may seem small, but they are very significant. If George Hill can get opponents to commit 0.7 more turnovers per game next year when he's playing, and hold them to a net rating 3 points below their season average, that will be a huge improvement over what we had last year. The difference between the net rating opposing point guards had against us vs. Indiana was 5.1 points/100 possessions, which is a huge gap when extended over an entire season. In conclusion, the Jazz really were bad at defending point guards last season, and Indiana, even though they held them to about the same statistics, defended them very well according to +/- rating and PIE, a lot better than the Jazz did. I think Hill and Exum will help us a lot this year.

Some other interesting things from this chart:

Point Guards Utah defended well: Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Mike Conley, Stephen Curry.

Point Guards Utah struggled against: Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague, John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Ricky Rubio, Tony Parker, Deron Williams.

Point Guards Indiana defended well: Dennis Schroder, Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Jrue Holiday, CJ McCollum, Tony Parker.

Point Guards Indiana struggled against: Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard, Ricky Rubio, Mike Conley, Stephen Curry.

That's all for this fanpost. Leave your thoughts in the comments!

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.