Understanding the Role of Defense in the NBA

In preparation for this evening’s match-up between the Raptors and the 76ers:

Raptors vs 76ers earlier this season

this is a snapshot of a single possession, from an early season game between these same two teams.

What do you see, from a Raptors’ perspective?


If you look closely at this photo what you should be able to see is that:

* Roko Ukic has his man checked on the original Weak Side of the floor [i.e. Miller]

* Chris Bosh has his man checked on the original Ball Side of the floor [i.e. Mystery Sixer A]

* Jamario Moon was probably beaten off the bounce by Thaddeus Young, who drove into the lane from the Right Corner [i.e. looking at the picture]

Leaving the questions:

1. How come there was NO “Help” provided by Jason Kapono, who was checking Mystery Sixer B [standing Weak Side above the 3PT-line]?

2. How come Andrea Bargnani was “Pinned” in a Fronting Position vs Mystery Sixer C [either Brand or Dalembert; it's hard to tell in the pic], in a poor position to respond to, and effectively deter, Young’s drive into the lane?


There is no secret to playing good, solid defense in the NBA … but, a team’s best efforts in this area are severely mitigated by the presence on the floor of more than one individual player who is an Inferior Team Defender.


In the NBA Game ... Which is more important to have on your roster, at each of the 5 different positions?

View Results

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Related material:
Deciphering the correct code for the Raptors [Dec 3 2008]
Wait a second … what’s really going on here [Dec 4 2009]
What is really going on here: Part II [Dec 5, 2009]
Respect for tellers of truths [Dec 8, 2009]

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9 Responses to “Understanding the Role of Defense in the NBA”

  1. The AltRaps Blog » Blog Archive » Toronto Raptors Linkage for March 11th from 12:31 to 13:59 Says:

    [...] khandor’s sports blog » Understanding the Role of Defense in the NBA – [...]

  2. Scott G Says:

    Isn’t that Willie Green? (Rather than Thad Young) And, it’s Brand that Bargs was guarding, seemingly leaving Bosh on Speights (?).

    Either way, your analysis is spot on, and a perfect example of the Kapono Effect. IMO, Bargs is nowhere near as poor a defender as JK, although that isn’t saying very much.

    I think this picture goes to a comment I made a while back that Kapono isn’t even a good help defender since he gets caught out of position so often. It’s things like that which separate the abysmally bad defenders (JK) from the not-so-good defenders (eg Nash, etc).

    Here’s a thought – what are the odds he would allow the raps to buy him out? Then again, what are the offs that MLSE would pony up the cash to do it? Ugh…

  3. khandor Says:

    Scott G.,

    Wasn’t quite sure from the pic which Sixer it actually was, Willie G or T-Young? Could be either one. Likewise with the Raptor who is obscured from view by Bargnani [i.e. just picked a Usual Suspect from amongst Moon, Graham or Solomon, based on size and position more-or-less].

    If you know it’s Green, 100%, thanks for passing that along.

    re: Kapono’s Bball IQ

    I think he’s plenty smart enough when it comes to understanding how the game SHOULD be played, it’s the EXECUTION of said details that he actually has difficult with at this level of competition.

    For example … I’m pretty sure that you [and me, as well] have an advanced level of understanding re: How the Game SHOULD be played at an Elite Level, based on your [our] past experiences and your [our] overall knowledge base … but that neither one of us could compete successfully in the NBA today, as a player, despite trying mightily. :-)

    Agreed, re: the concepts of “Abysmal” and “not-so-good”.

    re: a possible buyout for he of the Negative Effect on Performance

    IMO, that’s highly unlikely.

    1. JK is a very, very, very bright fellow.

    2. BC has shown no insight yet toward fully understanding just HOW bad his Designated Marksman is in the other important areas of the game, to warrant a buyout from management’s perspective … unbelievable as that reality might be to observing hoops eyes like yours and mine.

    3. Despite what others have had to say about Colangelo’s willingness to quickly “correct” the mistakes he’s made over the course of his career to-date as a GM in this league … that just doesn’t seem to be the case when I survey his work in Phoenix and Toronto, unless, of course, the mistake in question provides him with a ready-made [viable?] excuse to ship him out of town pronto, e.g. J-Kidd’s domestic battery charge & subsequent trade for Marbury; and, the decision to then unload “Star”bury on the Knicks, after D’Antoni came on-board and said, “No, thanks”, to Stephon the first time around.

    A straight “Buy Out” of Kapono, at this point, would be a significant blow to his rep across the league.

    re: MLSE being cheap

    Truth be told … it’s my impression that the current Board of Directors for MLSE will be willing to do whatever the GM of their team convinces them is the right thing to do, at that given point in time, in the best interests of their organization, from a long term perspective. [i.e. IMO, being "cheap" has very little to do with this organization's Lack of a Commitment to Doing What's Necessary to Bring a Championship to Toronto.] Using the concept of a “restained” budget for an outfit like MLSE, to explain their failures on the court/ice over the years, is nothing but a Red-Herring, IMO, regardless who the speaker might be.

  4. Dave Says:

    I’ve got a fairly good idea on who each of the players are:

    I’m pretty sure the five Phily players are — Miller, Green, Iggy, Young and Brand — Green is the one shooting the layup. Thaddeus is on the far left and Iggy is on the far right. Brand is under the bucket, and, Miller is clear for all to see.

    For Toronto, four of their players are clear to see, and the fifth appears to be Joey Graham (trying to defend Green’s driving layup).

  5. Linkage for Mar 9 2pm to Mar 11 11pm - Raptors Republic Says:

    [...] khandor’s sports blog » Understanding the Role of Defense in the NBA [...]

  6. Doc Says:

    Hey khandor,

    If you don’t mind I’d like to add your “Entries Feed” to our main page at Raptors Forum. If you have any issues with that, please don’t hesitate to email me.

    Keep up the great work,


  7. khandor Says:


    No problem. :-)

    Is there any chance at all that you’re also “the Doc” who functions as a moderator in the Raptors section at the RealGM.com site?

    Just wondering …

  8. khandor Says:


    Those respective players’ ID’s sound good to me.

  9. Doc Says:

    Unfortunately no khandor, just the Doc from ESPN from years ago back in 2000-02 and now Raptors Forum. :)

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