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Easy Ones Impact on Defense

Sir Gladiator commented on the recap of the Bobcats game against the Wizards from Saturday night, saying that he did not remember a team giving up so many layups and dunks.  Unfortunately for the Bobcats, it wasn’t even their worst effort on the season, though it was close – 21 combined dunks and layups surrendered to the Wizards Saturday night, but they gave up 22 to the Cavs earlier in January.

It got my attention, though, and I decided to grab a little data around it, first around the league and then around the Bobcats.  This first chart shows each team in the league, the number of combined dunks and layups per 100 possessions, and then their defensive efficiency.  I thought it was interesting that although there does appear to be a trend that as the easy ones go up, so does defensive efficiency, but there are exceptions – most notably:  Boston, who allows the 26th most layups and dunks, but has a top ten defensive efficiency mark.  That’s where things like turnovers forced and foul rate start come into play, but for this look, here’s the data:

NBA team defense and layups plus dunks allowed

And here’s the accompanying scatter plot:

You’ll note that the Bobcats fit pretty closely to the projected relationship.  They give up a lot of easy ones – and it results in the opposition scoring quite efficiently.

And the last bit of data to present – on/off numbers for each Bobcat.  This chart shows how many easy ones the Bobcats allow while a player is on the court and the team’s defensive efficiency, and then those numbers when they’re on the bench.

The first three entries provide a pretty interesting look – with Bismack on the court, the Bobcats give up fewer easy ones, but little difference in efficiency.

But, then you look at Boris and Byron – and the expected impact does occur – 2 fewer layups with Boris, a 3.4 point drop in efficiency.  3.3 more layups with Byron – nearly 3 points added to the efficiency.  Considering Byron’s tendency to stay glued to his man’s hip when an opposing guard drives, it’s not difficult to see the Bobcats giving up more easy points with him on the floor.

With that said, there are certainly exceptions to this general rule of thumb on the roster, but interesting to look at nonetheless.

Unlike Boston, Charlotte does not force a high rate of turnovers from the opposition, so the Bobcats cannot get away with acting as a layup line for the other team.  While that’s a team effort, and starts with the guards/wings staying between their man and the basket, there does appear to be an area of improvement for the sweet shooting big man from The Ohio State.