Anatomy of a Defense and Game On: Hornets @ Thunder

By:
Published: February 2, 2011

Matchup: Hornets(32-18) @ Thunder(30-17)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 103.3(16th), Thunder 107.4(7th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 99.0(3rd), Thunder 105.0(17th)

As always, thanks to the estimable Dariusz for the game day banner.

We’ve talked about the Thunder a lot on the podcast, and it feels like we’ve been playing them All. The. Time.  So I’m only going to talk briefly about this matchup.

This would be a tough game at the best of times, but without Okafor, the defense is going to struggle against a good offensive team.  I also don’t expect Jason Smith to be able to roll to the basket like he did against the Wizards.  In fact, should Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee find themselves on a Basketball IQ gameshow, it would be similar to watching one of those SNL Celebrity Jeapordy Skits.

I fully expect Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka to make life painful for Smith – and for us watching.

Injuries:

Hornets: Emeka Okafor is out.
Thunder: None

Anatomy of a Defense

So what do I want to talk about with the Hornets?  Well, a continuing theme.  Their defense.  Last week we pointed out the huge leap the Hornets have made defensively, and how it’s one of the biggest defensive leaps in the history of the NBA.  Today, I’m going to break down just what the Hornets do to limit their opponents.

Controlling Shots vs Contesting Shots

In the NBA, there are two general defensive skills when trying to limit a team’s ability to put the ball in the basket: Forcing bad shots, and contesting the shots that are taken.  So far this season, the Hornets are purely ordinary at the first, and exceptional at the second.  How do we know this? The site Hoopdata com tracks all kinds of information, including where opponents are taking shots against your team – and what the league average shooting percentage is for each of those ranges.  This information is a great tool to evaluate whether your team is forcing bad shots – and whether they contest them well.  For context, here is the expected points per type of shot for an average NBA player this season, ranked by the most efficient sort of shot:

  • At rim: 1.258 points per shot
  • 3-pointer: 1.082 points per shot
  • 2-10 feet: 0.866 points per shot
  • 16-23 feet: 0.788 points per shot
  • 10-15 feet: 0.772 points per shot

So what do the Hornets do defensively?  The shots their opponents take each game have an expected eFG% of 49.6% – in other words, they should expect to score(not counting free throws and and-1′s) 0.992 points per shot.  That number is tied for 15th in the league – or is purely average, so no, the Hornets ability to control what sort of shots their opponents are getting is not exceptional.  What is exceptional is the fact that Hornets opponents only shoot an effective FG% of 48% on those shots, earning 0.96 points per shot.  That is the 6th best number in the NBA.  So the Hornets, despite giving up a decent shot selection, manage to force teams into completing them at a fairly poor rate.

The Rest of the Defensive Enchilada

Controlling and Contesting shots are, of course, not the whole story.  In fact, three years ago, when the Hornets also sported a nice defense(7th in the league) en route to a 2nd seed in the West, the Hornets were purely ordinary at almost everything but one category:  They never gave up any free throws. These things matter.  So how do the Hornets stack up today?

Rebounding

A key part to limiting an opponents efficiency is the ability to control the defensive boards. Each offensive rebound an opponent gets extends the posession and frequently generates high-efficiency shots.  This year, the Hornets are simply owning the defensive glass, and opponents are grabbing only 22.9% of available offensive rebounds.  That number is good for 2nd in the league behind only Orlando.  One and done.

Turnovers

With Paul and Ariza ripping steals at a high rate, you’d expect the Hornets to rank highly here, but this stat actually incorporates a lot more than that.  Scraps for loose balls.  Forced bad passes.  Charges.  The Hornets are good at all of those things but drawing charges, and thus force their opponents into turning the ball over on 14.2% of their posessions.  That number is good for 9th in the league.

Free Throw Rate

So teams can really suck at making shots against you, but if you can’t keep them from getting to the free throw line, you’re pretty much screwed.  Like I mentioned above, this number alone made the Hornets a good defense three years ago – so how are the Hornets doing this season?  Opponents average 0.28 free throws for every shot they take.  That number is 6th in the league.  No freebies.

Anyways, if you made it this far . . . Enjoy the game!

225 comments
QueenBee
QueenBee

From Jim Eichenhofer's twitter... Marcus Thornton is 1st player in NBA history to miss 2 shots in same week that were blocked after ball hit backboard #fabricatedstats That's effed up.

42
42

Indeed

Joel
Joel

Tough loss, Hornets. KD was on fire tonight, and no one was gonna stop him. For the record, we here in OKC don't really like Brian Davis either. Grant Long is ok though. See ya in the playoffs!

Gec
Gec

well it was a nice effort. Considering that they shot great from outside, refs're not ready to officiate a match with this kind of intensity, then their bigs just dominating because 'Meka's absence, without ariza on the boards and on D and forced to play willie on Durant (= no opposition = 40point in 3 quarters), with CP3 limping... It was a nice effort, i think the Hornets can beat this thunder team during the playoffs if the bees are healty nomatter who has the court advantage. I can't see the Thunder doing such an offensive exploit against our defense on a daily basis once we have 'Mek and Ariza healty. So if the hornets are going to score and get some offensive rebound i see this matchup going well. I'm really happy to see QPon playing that well evenif it was for nothing. I knew he could play but also knew that he's simply too intelligent to throw in the air some bad shots just to score something and get everyone's attention. good night guys

George
George

I haven't got a good feeling about the Laker game now

QueenBee
QueenBee

Now? Why did you ever have a good feeling in the first place? LOL!!!

cmac81
cmac81

They're letting Maynor play some minutes, he's playing great I've always liked him ever since he was in college.

JayRey
JayRey

It was more of a torture listening to the Thunder commentators imo than watching the game lol

QueenBee
QueenBee

I told you guys you should just mute like I do. Surely you don't need basketball novices commentating for you do you? We here probably know more than those guys. Put those ******** on mute. LOL!

JayRey
JayRey

I was actually watching a live streaming in spanish, but for some reason it just blacked out :/ They were definitely much more cooler and impartial

Go Blue
Go Blue

So true...I had to mute it at times. The Thunder is a good team, but they act like they have done something. Last time I checked the only thing they have done was lose in the first round in the playoff. whatever.

NOLABanks96
NOLABanks96

Wow not much u cud do. Durant had a killer nite but really Monty wat the hell was that keeping willie green in so damn long?

Go Blue
Go Blue

Whatever...atleast I don't have to watch these annoying Thunder again this year. Screw you refs. I can't believe they talk about CP3 flopping when Durant does that fake under the arm swing ALLLLLLLLLLL game long. I really want to slap that smile off Westbrook face....argh

QueenBee
QueenBee

What happened to Westbrook? He's been on the same stats forever.

peronas
peronas

He sat down with foul trouble I believe then Maynor was playing decent so they kept him in

QueenBee
QueenBee

I'm glad I didn't watch this. Just reading these comments are pissing me off.

peronas
peronas

Thunder just seem to want it more, they're out hustling the bees and it doesn't help that Durant can't miss....

cmac81
cmac81

And now the announcers are chirping Chris Paul for taking a shot in the chest from Durant? Wow do the know anything about basketball? That was like the easiest offensive foul in the world to take!!

QueenBee
QueenBee

Hell no those dumbasses don't know NOTHING.

QueenBee
QueenBee

No, they really don't know anything. The only thing they know tonight though is the Thunder beat the Hornets. Ugh.

cmac81
cmac81

Haha I don't know if you're being sarcastic or not queen but I swear to god sometimes the shit they say just makes absolutely no sense.

cmac81
cmac81

IBAKA JUST ELBOWED PONDEXTER IN THE FUCKING FACE!!!! WHAT THE HELL!!

mbdtf
mbdtf

Yeah Durant.. thats an offensive foul

George
George

Green has been playing like crap. Put Thornton in

JayRey
JayRey

Wheres Belinelli at?? Wheres MT at?? Belinelli has longer length than Green and we need some scoring right about now

QueenBee
QueenBee

So what happened other than Durant showing how he's the leauges' leading scorer? Did Monty wave the white flag? Did CP play in the 4th? Did Belinelli play in the 4th?

JayRey
JayRey

Green trying to do too much 2-8 from the field....Belinelli had a good first half, but hasn't been on the floor most of the second half. MT only has about 10 minutes.

JaeAmazin
JaeAmazin

Well..I'll talk to y'all after the Lakers game..This is Fucking ridiculous

George
George

Durant is going to go off for 50 points at this rate

Schmide234
Schmide234

they miss nothing. i mean really??? and the refs are killing me

cmac81
cmac81

Seriously officials? JASON SMITH JUST GOT SHOVED IN THE BACK BY IBAKA AND THEN YOU TURN AROUND AND CALL A FOUL?!?!? SHOW US SOME FUCKING RESPECT!!

NOLABanks96
NOLABanks96

Marco or Marcus wud be cool right now

mbdtf
mbdtf

Well it was a good effort everything considered.

cmac81
cmac81

Can't do anything about Durant its just one of those on fire nights.. damn

Gec
Gec

willie on durant are you serious monty?

Gec
Gec

oh cmon we were starting to get momentum and then Willie took that stupid three and Jack forced another shot -___- cmon guys play smartly, play the hornets way or we are not going to have a chance

Forever504
Forever504

why hasnt monty gone all serena williams on these refs yet

QueenBee
QueenBee

He's too nice and Christian. He's a rookie coach and they don't respect him. He needs to at least go Popovich on them. I'd probably be ejected by now. LOL! And I'm not even watching. LOL!

George
George

Pay Q-Pon some respect and stop calling him Poindexter

peronas
peronas

No kidding this drives me nuts, especially since one of the announcers says it correctly the other guy just is an idiot about it

QueenBee
QueenBee

If they are allowing the Thunder to goaltend then Monty needs to get in the officials asses about that.

JayRey
JayRey

Great D by Q-Pon...KD is just feeling "it"

George
George

Sprained ankle for Ariza

George
George

Oops didn't mean to post this as a reply.