As I was browsing through some of the Bobcats defensive statistics on hoopdata.com this morning, I came across a rather stunning defensive stat that pointed out where the Bobcats struggled and excelled all in one.
As we all saw last season, the Bobcats gave up copious amounts of points to their opponents around the rim just about every game and it was one of the main reasons that Charlotte finished dead last in the league in defensive efficiency last year. Without even looking at the stats, anyone could have told you that this team has improved in the defensive category, in general, and presume also around the rim. Well, yes and no. Through nine games this season, the Bobcats are allowing their opponents 29.4 attempts around the rim per game- that’s good for second worst in the league. So, teams are getting tons of chances around the bucket and anyone who knows of basketball will tell you that’s the highest percentage shot in the entire game. Now, just know that Charlotte gives up the second most attempts around the basket in the league and brace yourself.
Ready for the dichotomy?
The Bobcats defend ‘around the rim’ better than any other team in the entire NBA. That’s right, Charlotte only allows their opponents to shoot 58.3% close to the basket, despite the fact that they allow their opponent the second most attempts around the rim. Kind of stunning, right? Yes, and it makes one consider that the Bobcats have some good rim protectors at the 4 and 5 positions. Biyombo, Haywood and Tyrus would lead the charge here. MKG has also been an asset to the Bobcats when it comes to protecting the basket, mostly because of his defensive awareness on the floor and always being in the correct help position.
This stat also brings some concern for this team in the injury department. Tyrus Thomas is gone for at least two months, so if you’re in the camp that Tyrus is a huge reason for this team’s success defending around the rim and consider that opponents FG% around the rim will go up in his absence, well, that’s going to be really bad news for Charlotte because they do allow so many attempts close to the basket. Now Tyrus’ value to this team doesn’t seem so minuscule, does it?
Look, this stat suggests good and bad aspects of the Bobcats defense. For starters, the opponent is obviously getting to the rim too much and that could be coming from an array of perimeter defensive issues, but on the contrary, the Bobcats don’t concede anything around the rim, challenging every shot.
Below, Brett and Mathew weigh in with their thoughts.
Brett: My first thought was small sample size, so I checked the numbers for last season, and 58.3% is actually within reason. It would be expected to be among the league leaders if it held up, but it is not some wildly unsustainable number. Even with some regression to the mean, it would appear the Bobcats are decent rim protectors. And honestly it makes sense – the team is almost always big/long at the 4/5, with Haywood and Mullens starting (Mullens is still bad defensively, but he is better than last year) that’s two 7 footers, and then when Tyrus (and now Hakim) and Bismack coming through, the Bobcats have long-armed leapers who challenge everything at the rim. And while MKG isn’t particularly tall for a 3, he has a shown a real aptitude in help side defense and blocking shots around the basket (it seems like the rare game when he doesn’t block an attempt in the paint).
Mathew: That is a surprising stat. I tend to agree with Spencer’s analysis. It certainly points to the rim-protecting ability of the bigs on the team, most notably Biyombo. However, as impressive a stat that is, the attempts at the rim are equally unimpressive. The regularity with which opponents are getting to the rim would seem to indict the perimeter defense of the Bobcats – namely Sessions – who has had his struggles on the defensive end throughout his career. If I were Coach Dunlap I would be more concerned with the attempts at the rim than I would be encouraged by the ability of the team to guard the basket when the opponent gets there.