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durvasa is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:24 PM   #1
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How good is Lowry on the defensive end? Some posters have made the point that Lowry is expending a lot of his energy this year on the offensive side, which has taken away greatly from his effectiveness on defense. A few points that have been made against Lowry's defense are:
  • Below average lateral quickness. Quicker PGs will routinely penetrate past him.
  • He gets stuck on screens.
  • Does not get back in transition consistently. Often because he's chasing offensive rebounds inside the free throw line extended.

These points may be valid to a degree, though its hard to assess just how much this hurts the team. For example, if you just plain get beat on defense that's one thing. But if you are using your help defense and steering your man towards them while covering the passing lane then that could be smart team defense. In terms of negotating screens (e.g. pick and roll defense), subjecitvely I haven't noticed Lowry being particularly bad at this. However, in the past he would often embellish the contact on screens in order to draw offensvie fouls. I think perhaps he still sometimes has this mindset of trying to fight his way through the screen instead of nimbly slipping past it. Others can comment more on these critiques.

I would consider Lowry's major strengths on defense as:
  • He gets his hands on a lot of basketball.
  • Superb defensive rebounder.
  • A strong, physical defender who can not be backed down easily

How can we understand Lowry's defensive impact (for good or bad) in more "objective" terms? The stats I decided to look at come in three categories:
  • Defensive +/- : These stats are used to infer something about a player's defensive performance based on his team's defense when he is on (or off the floor). More advanced variants will make adjustments for the other teammates and opposing players on the floor.
  • Boxscore Stats: The boxscore is very limited when it comes to defense, but nevertheless there are some things in there worth looking at (defensive rebounding, steals, fouls). DRTG uses boxscore stats and team defensive stats to estimate the player's overall contributions on the defensive end. Statistical +/- uses boxscore stats as a predictor for defensive impact.
  • Synergy Stats: While the data isn't to my knowledge publicly available in a convenient format (I had to manually extract it), it still provides some very interesting defensive information. It tells you how often the player was involved defensively in the following plays and also how successful he was: isolation, p&r on ball-handler, post-up, p&r on roll man, spot-up, off screen, hand off. And if you want to pay the money, it provides great supplementary video content for every tracked play.

Also, because what I'm really interested in is how Lowry compares to his peers, I have selected 10 Western Conference point guards to compare his stats to. They are: Chris Paul, Raymon Felton, Tony Parker, Ricky Rubio, Mike Conley, Steve Nash, Ty Lawson, Jarrett Jack, Russell Westbrook, Derek Fisher. If I had more time, I would have included numbers for Eastern Conference point guards as well.

Defensive +/-

RAPM data and a review of adjusted +/- methods

In this category, there are 3 numbers I will look at. RAPM with prior seasons (good predictor for team performance), RAPM for just this season, and unadjusted On/Off. RAPM is a type of adjusted +/- that reduces noise by applying a penalty factor to players who's performance stray far from the mean. In other words, it assumes everybody is about average, and for a player to prove otherwise they need to be really good or really bad over a significant sample of games.
  • RAPM_withprior: This uses multiple seasons as prior information to improve out-of-sample predictions of team performance with the player.
  • RAPM_noprior: Just standard RAPM, based only on performance this season. +/- ratings will naturally gravitate towards 0 due to lack of information.
  • unadjusted On/Off: This is the difference in team defensive efficiency when the player is on the floor versus when the player is off the floor. No adjustment is made for teammates or opposition.


NameDEF On/OffDEF RAPM-no-priorDEF RAPM-with-prior
Lowry, Kyle13.270.22.2
Fisher, Derek1.430.51
Paul, Chris-0.22-0.51
Conley, Mike9.20.50.9
Rubio, Ricky9.660.80.4
Parker, Tony4.95-0.10.2
Felton, Raymond1.4900
Nash, Steve-1.42-0.4-0.1
Lawson, Ty6.320.5-0.3
Westbrook, Russell4.64-0.1-0.4
Jack, Jarrett-8.39-0.7-1.2


Note: The unadjusted On/Off defensive numbers are from basketballvalue.com, except for Mike Conley. Conley's unadjusted On/Off comes from 82games.com and is a game or two out of date.

Amongst the sample, Lowry rates well by +/-. His defensive adjusted +/- rating for just this season does not stand out even with the gawdy On/Off numbers. From the fairly limited sample of games, RAPM isn't able to credit Lowry for the increased defensive performance over players like Dalembert, Scola, and Parsons. If we look at RAPM with previous seasons as prior information (which is meant to be more reliable), Lowry ranks first in this sample of players.

Boxscore Stats

More on Oliver's Defensive Rating formula ...

Basketball-reference.com provides DRTG for every player, based on the formula described in Dean Oliver's book (Basketball on Paper). A significant component of this rating is the team defensive efficiency. However, there may be a significant disparity between the team's defensive efficiency with the player on the floor and with the player off the floor. Using data at basketballvalue.com, I can adjust for this. The form of the DRTG formula is:

DRTG = 0.8*TmDRTG + 0.2 * 100*IndividualDef*(1-Stop%)


So, adjusted DRTG is simply:

adj_DRTG = 0.8*(OnCourt_TmDRTG - TmDRTG) + DRTG

We could also ignore the team component and focus just on the player's individual statistics. I'll call this boxscore_DRTG:

boxscore_DRTG = 0.8*(100 - TmDRTG) + DRTG


Player DRtgOnCourt_TmDRTGTmDRTGboxscore_DRTGAdj_DRTG
Ricky Rubio 9896.1101.596.893.7
Mike Conley 9998.0101.897.595.9
Kyle Lowry 10299.6105.497.797.3
Derek Fisher 10097.499.1100.798.6
Russell Westbrook 102101.0101.9100.5101.3
Ty Lawson 10498.7101.6102.7101.6
Raymond Felton 10399.9100.3102.8102.7
Tony Parker 106101.2104.1102.7103.7
Chris Paul 105105.8105.8100.4105.0
Jarrett Jack 106104.8102.6103.9107.8
Steve Nash 109102.4103.8106.0107.8


Lowry again rates favorably, which isn't surprising considering his strong steal and rebound numbers. He benefited a lot from the team defense adjustment.

Synergy Statistics

More details ...

Synergy's player defensive stats are play-focused. Specifically, a "play" is any move by a player that results in him taking a shot, getting to the line, or committing a turnover. Synergy tracks the responsible defender on all such plays. There are some holes here, however. Synergy doesn't track transition defense, defense against cutters, or defense against an offensive rebounder, or defense against a play-making passer, reasoning that its generally more difficult to assign responsibility to a single player for such plays. Even with these limitations, though, these are still interesting to look at.

For PGs, the vast majority of plays that are tracked (> 80%) fall into 3 categories: defense against isolation, defense against pick-and-roll ball-handler, and defense against a spot-up shooter. Here is the data for Lowry and the rest:

Overall:

playernumberppprankfgmfga3fgm3fga%sfand 1%to%scoreeFG%
Ricky Rubio1610.7578471269346.2%012.4%36.0%40.9%
Kyle Lowry1750.7690581419351.7%416.6%34.9%44.3%
Chris Paul1120.769029808276.3%220.5%33.9%41.3%
Mike Conley1520.77974011314357.2%113.8%34.9%41.6%
Ty Lawson1570.781044712717494.5%012.1%34.4%43.7%
Raymond Felton1880.811385914010294.8%218.1%38.3%45.7%
Steve Nash1660.811385514210374.2%17.8%38.0%42.3%
Russell Westbrook1500.831555012910392.0%19.3%37.3%42.6%
Tony Parker1810.841636315515442.2%011.0%38.1%45.5%
Jarrett Jack1970.841635816024645.1%09.1%37.1%43.8%
Derek Fisher1330.92284511219473.8%09.8%39.1%48.7%


Isolation:

player%playnumberppprankfgmfga3fgm3fga%sfand 1%to%scoreeFG%
Russell Westbrook0.187280.432523053.6%014.3%21.4%21.7%
Mike Conley0.178270.4843141211.1%033.3%25.9%25.0%
Chris Paul0.232260.546312027.7%038.5%26.9%25.0%
Jarrett Jack0.127250.6 723180.0%08.0%28.0%32.6%
Ricky Rubio0.174280.68176181414.3%021.4%35.7%36.1%
Kyle Lowry0.137240.69 718014.2%120.8%33.3%38.9%
Tony Parker0.133240.75 821024.2%08.3%37.5%38.1%
Ty Lawson0.159250.84 921124.0%012.0%40.0%45.2%
Derek Fisher0.128171 5121211.8%05.9%52.9%45.8%
Raymond Felton0.16301451021256.7%116.7%46.7%52.4%
Steve Nash0.193321.16521728010.0%19.4%56.3%60.7%


Pick-and-roll (ball handler):


player%playnumberppprankfgmfga3fgm3fga%sfand 1%to%scoreeFG%
Steve Nash0.404670.631117563104.5%011.9%29.9%33.0%
Ty Lawson0.35550.641314442105.5%014.5%30.9%34.1%
Kyle Lowry0.389680.72302246122.9%227.9%35.3%48.9%
Derek Fisher0.429570.753418476101.8%015.8%33.3%44.7%
Ricky Rubio0.478770.77382259397.8%014.3%37.7%39.8%
Raymond Felton0.527990.79463268244.0%125.3%38.4%48.5%
Tony Parker0.448810.81482965152.5%014.8%40.7%45.4%
Mike Conley0.441670.81481851367.5%113.4%37.3%38.2%
Chris Paul0.384430.866012273511.6%125.6%39.5%50.0%
Jarrett Jack0.335660.86602047467.6%016.7%42.4%46.8%
Russell Westbrook0.467700.91682658172.9%010.0%44.3%45.7%


Spot up shooter:

player%playnumberppprankfgmfga3fgm3fga%sfand 1%to%scoreeFG%
Chris Paul0.205230.78 7224150.0%04.3%30.4%40.9%
Tony Parker0.254460.788134310310.0%06.5%28.3%41.9%
Kyle Lowry0.263460.84315467280.0%00.0%32.6%40.2%
Steve Nash0.271450.846114426234.4%02.2%35.6%40.5%
Jarrett Jack0.335660.9286195816446.1%04.5%34.8%46.6%
Ricky Rubio0.199320.979613315200.0%03.1%40.6%50.0%
Derek Fisher0.323430.98107154110322.3%02.3%37.2%48.8%
Raymond Felton0.14928111210265147.1%00.0%42.9%48.1%
Mike Conley0.224341.0312112319255.9%02.9%41.2%53.2%
Russell Westbrook0.24361.0613014359250.0%12.8%38.9%52.9%
Ty Lawson0.318501.08141194413324.0%08.0%42.0%58.0%


There is a lot of data here to sift through. Overall, Lowry fares well by the Synergy data, though again there are some holes in what it covers. Against isolation, Lowry is middle of the pack. He rates well against pick-and-roll ball-handlers, and in contesting spot up shooters.
 
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Carl Herrera is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:30 PM   #2
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OMG MOAR USELESS MADE UP STATS! ME YEARS OF COACHING EXPERIENCE AND ME OWN EYES TELL ME WHO IS GOOD!

DD

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Mr. Clutch is online now Old 01-22-2012, 03:31 PM   #3
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Wow, awesome post.

No question Lowry is a darn good defender.
 
flamingdts is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:37 PM   #4
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Thanks durv, great great post.

Lowry is a great defender, I don't understand why people try to take that away from him sometimes. He's everything a fan wants from their best player, except throwing balls at people of course.
 
DaDakota is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:38 PM   #5
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Good post Durvasa, but just as figured people will use this as some sort of hammer like it ends any argument etc.

The problem with any stats is they are based upon flawed input.

They are a nice tool for sure, to help, but I would trust seasoned eyes more than formulaic stats that have humans inputting the data, and humans making up the algorythmns on something that is non quantifiable and biased.

Still an excellent post overall, and Lowry's D has slipped considerably.

DD

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LCII is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Herrera View Post
OMG MOAR USELESS MADE UP STATS! ME YEARS OF COACHING EXPERIENCE AND ME OWN EYES TELL ME WHO IS GOOD!

DD
LOL

yeah
 
DaDakota is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
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LOL

yeah
He is obsessed with me, what can I say?

DD

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Commodore is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:53 PM   #8
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DaDakota is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:54 PM   #9
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BTW - before this thread turns into being about me, which CH/VanGundier clearly intended, let's just not do that and enjoy the wonderful time and effort that Durvasa put into his post.

If you are into those stats, then this is your place to shine.

Enjoy !

DD

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v3.0 is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaDakota View Post
He is obsessed with me, what can I say?

DD
Do you have stats to back this up, or are you perceiving this with your eyes?
 
durvasa is offline Old 01-22-2012, 03:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaDakota View Post
BTW - before this thread turns into being about me, which CH/VanGundier clearly intended, let's just not do that and enjoy the wonderful time and effort that Durvasa put into his post.

If you are into those stats, then this is your place to shine.

Enjoy !

DD
The purpose of this thread isn't to celebrate Kyle Lowry or statistics. I welcome any discussion on Lowry defensive performance, and it doesn't have to be stats-based and it doesn't have to be positive. All I ask is that people are open minded enough to consider arguments (it could be stats, video, subjective analysis from experts) that maybe goes against their pre-established views.
 
knote32 is offline Old 01-22-2012, 04:00 PM   #12
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Lowry is a decent on ball defender, but a truly outstanding TEAM defender...

Morey has said as much...
 
ashishduh is offline Old 01-22-2012, 04:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaDakota View Post
Good post Durvasa, but just as figured people will use this as some sort of hammer like it ends any argument etc.

The problem with any stats is they are based upon flawed input.

They are a nice tool for sure, to help, but I would trust seasoned eyes more than formulaic stats that have humans inputting the data, and humans making up the algorythmns on something that is non quantifiable and biased.

Still an excellent post overall, and Lowry's D has slipped considerably.

DD
Do you have any expert testimony to back this up? Because without any of that all we're left with is stats.
 
Mr. Clutch is online now Old 01-22-2012, 04:03 PM   #14
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Lowry has ALWAYS been a good defender.

It's his offense that stands our now
 
cod is offline Old 01-22-2012, 04:03 PM   #15
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What would the numbers/rankings be without rebounding factored in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by flamingdts View Post
Thanks durv, great great post.

Lowry is a great defender, I don't understand why people try to take that away from him sometimes.
Yes, Lowry is the best player on the team. No, pointing out some flaws he needs to improve on isn't putting him down.

This wasn't the first game McHale has gone with Dragic down the stretch to defend at PG.
 
CXbby is offline Old 01-22-2012, 04:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaDakota View Post
Good post Durvasa, but just as figured people will use this as some sort of hammer like it ends any argument etc.

DD
OPPOSING SF HAD A 12.7 PER AGAINST BUDINGER ACCORDING TO HOLLINGER. HAMMER TIME.

DD
 
DaDakota is offline Old 01-22-2012, 04:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knote32 View Post
Lowry is a decent on ball defender, but a truly outstanding TEAM defender...

Morey has said as much...
Yeah, I agree with this, he is uber smart, but what I have perceived this season is that he is letting quicker guys get around him pretty easily, in fact his on ball D has been pretty average according to what I am seeing.

Parker has lit him up when he used to be able to stay in front of him somewhat - he is not fighting through screens as much and overall seems tired.

I think it might be that he has such a large burden on offense now, everything goes through him on that end, that it has to be driving down his energy levels.

That is what I see out there......and I know that he is our best player right now, and some people's favorite.

DD

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flamingdts is offline Old 01-22-2012, 04:08 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by cod View Post
What would the numbers/rankings be without rebounding factored in?



Yes, Lowry is the best player on the team. No, pointing out some flaws he needs to improve on isn't putting him down.

This wasn't the first game McHale has gone with Dragic down the stretch to defend at PG.
I did not say pointing out his flaw is putting him down, you're taking things way out of context.

Defense is the part of Lowry's game that needs the least improvement in, and always has been. So yes for some people to call him an average defender is taking a lot away from him.
 
durvasa is offline Old 01-22-2012, 04:08 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Commodore View Post
http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com...tats-he-likes/

quote:

A year ago, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked to explain the decline in statistical production from Randy Moss, and he bristled at the question.

“Stats are for losers,” Belichick said then. “The final score is for winners.”

Belichick no longer has to defend Moss, but he does still have some thoughts on stats. And although he’s not exactly backing down on his statement that the score is what matters, he did revise and extend his remarks about stats when asked by reporters whether the statistical numbers have any meaning.

“I think they all have meaning; it’s just the priority of the stats,” Belichick said. “Wins is number one. Points is number two, because that correlates to winning.”

Although points haven’t correlated to winning for the Detroit Lions this year, in general Belichick is right about that. And he said the other stats he looks at are all related to points.

“And then you get to the things that correlate to scoring, which [are] red area, big plays, and third down becomes a part of that because of being able to sustain drives and that type of things,” Belichick said. “But if you make big plays, then third down becomes less important. You can offset any good numbers with bad numbers. You can offset bad numbers with good numbers, but in the end, it’s about getting points on the board and keeping them off. . . . I’m not saying they’re not significant, they are, but the ones that correlate the highest to winning, you still have to consider them as the most important.”

So stats aren’t necessarily for losers. As long as the stats in question correlate to the Patriots becoming winners.

 
Mr. Clutch is online now Old 01-22-2012, 04:11 PM   #20
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