Individual Defensive Ratings; Draymond, Embiid and Giannis On Top

By Stephen Shea, (@SteveShea33)

February 6, 2017

Historically, it has been far more difficult to quantify defensive performance than offensive production.  However, with recent improvements in data gathering, most notably the NBA’s adoption of SportVU’s spatial-tracking system, there is hope that analytics can begin to tackle this problem.

In a previous post, we presented Perimeter Defense Ratings (PDR).  Here, we present a slightly revised PDR (updated through the February 5th games).  We also introduce an Interior Defense Rating (IDR) and sum IDR and PDR for Total Defense Ratings (TDR).

Methodology

For our calculations, we used steals, blocks, deflections, loose-balls gathered, defensive rebounds, opponents’ FG% on shots within 6 feet, individual defensive ratings (as calculated by NBA.com), pace, minutes played, opponents’ FGA within 6 feet, and 3-point shots contested.

Pace and minutes played were used to convert stat totals to per possession rates.  Opponents’ FGA within 6 feet and 3-point shots contested are used to approximate how often a player is in a position to influence perimeter shots and interior shots.  Steals, blocks, deflections, loose-balls gathered, defensive rebounds, and opponents’ FG% on shots within 6 feet are converted to standard deviations from the mean where the means and standard deviations are calculated on pace-adjusted numbers for NBA players with at least 600 minutes played.

Defensive rating is adjusted first for how well the player rated according to other stats.  A player that rated well on the individual metrics would see a bigger boost from a good DRtg than one that did not rate well on the other individual defensive stats.

Interpretation

Players were assessed based on their performance this season in the tasks asked of them.  For example, DeMarcus Cousins’ perimeter rating is based on his performance guarding the perimeter this season.  That often meant time guarding opposing bigs on the perimeter with the occasional switch onto a smaller player after a screen.  Cousins performed reasonably well in those areas registering a decent PDR.  This does not mean that Cousins should be asked to guard Steph Curry for 36 minutes.  (If he were asked to guard the opposing PG every night, he would probably have a terrible PDR.)

TDR simply sums PDR and IDR, which gives each stat in the sum equal weight.  This gives a good sense of the positional versatility of the defender.  However, there are players whose responsibilities lie almost exclusively on the perimeter or almost exclusively on the interior.  This can lead to some confusion in interpreting TDR.

For example, Greg Monroe scored a 3.1 in TDR by getting a 1.1 in PDR and a 2.0 in IDR.  The 1.1 in PDR reflects that Monroe is one of the more mobile big men on the perimeter.  The IDR of 2.0 suggests he has the size to be functional defensively at center but is by no means elite as a rim protector.  By comparison, DeAndre Jordan scored a 6.2 in IDR and a -3.8 in PDR for a TDR of 2.5.  Although Monroe outscored Jordan in TDR, it does not mean Monroe is a better defensive center than Jordan. Since teams rely heavily on their center to protect the rim, IDR alone is a better judge of a center’s defensive ability.

Where’s LeBron?  LeBron rates as a slight positive in both interior and perimeter defense.  However, his TDR rating of 1.2 does not accurately reflect how great of a defender LeBron can be.  His TDR reflects his contributions through the first half of this season, and it would be foolish for LeBron to be taking charges and diving for loose balls every possession for 37 minutes a night in November.  He’s a different defender when the games matter.  We suspect his playoff TDR would be much better than his regular season TDR.

Ratings

The following sortable table displays the defensive ratings for all players that have played at least 750 minutes this season.  There are 244 players in total.

PLAYERTEAMAGEMINPDRIDRTDR
Draymond GreenGSW2616006.43.810.3
Joel EmbiidPHI227860.39.19.3
Giannis AntetokounmpoMIL2217255.34.09.2
Anthony DavisNOP2317001.96.07.9
Tony AllenMEM3512688.1-0.57.7
Rudy GobertUTA241720-1.68.56.9
Lucas NogueiraTOR249170.95.86.7
Robert CovingtonPHI2613615.01.46.4
DeMarcus CousinsSAC2617271.93.85.7
Kawhi LeonardSAS2515384.21.45.7
Kevin DurantGSW2817571.73.95.6
Thabo SefoloshaATL3211376.2-1.05.2
James JohnsonMIA2911923.11.95.0
Rondae Hollis-JeffersonBKN2210134.40.54.9
Hassan WhitesideMIA271516-2.37.14.8
Rudy GaySAC3010133.71.04.7
Paul MillsapATL3116282.62.14.7
Andre DrummondDET2315340.04.64.6
Derrick FavorsUTA257800.83.84.6
Kris DunnMIN228324.7-0.24.6
Thaddeus YoungIND2815244.6-0.44.2
Manu GinobiliSAS398083.50.74.2
Nikola MiroticCHI2510151.92.24.1
Kristaps PorzingisNYK211457-0.34.34.0
Dwight HowardATL311359-1.65.53.9
Chris PaulLAC3111125.7-1.93.8
Trevor BookerBKN2912082.21.43.6
Myles TurnerIND201490-2.05.33.3
Greg MonroeMIL2610451.12.03.1
Jrue HolidayNOP2611433.9-0.93.0
Rajon RondoCHI3011273.0-0.13.0
Al-Farouq AminuPOR269770.42.52.8
Pascal SiakamTOR227661.91.02.8
John HensonMIL26888-1.34.02.7
Stephen CurryGSW2816843.4-0.82.7
Mason PlumleePOR261459-0.73.42.7
Cody ZellerCHA241023-0.22.92.7
John WallWAS2617452.40.32.7
Tyler JohnsonMIA2413252.30.32.6
Patrick BeverleyHOU2812443.6-1.02.6
Nikola VucevicORL261420-0.53.12.6
Paul GeorgeIND2615313.0-0.52.6
Steven AdamsOKC2315340.61.92.5
Otto PorterWAS2316842.40.12.5
Justin HolidayNYK2710262.6-0.12.5
DeAndre JordanLAC281607-3.86.22.5
NeneHOU347710.91.62.5
Al HorfordBOS3012930.12.32.4
Danny GreenSAS2911082.4-0.12.3
Zaza PachuliaGSW328260.22.22.3
Marcus SmartBOS2214733.4-1.22.3
Gorgui DiengMIN2716340.22.12.3
Joe InglesUTA2910823.8-1.62.2
Stanley JohnsonDET207750.91.32.2
Tristan ThompsonCLE251434-1.93.92.0
Michael Kidd-GilchristCHA2314731.10.91.9
Clint CapelaHOU22912-2.64.51.9
Terrence JonesNOP251205-0.72.61.8
David LeeSAS33911-0.72.61.8
Russell WestbrookOKC2818030.41.31.7
Jonathon SimmonsSAS278581.9-0.21.7
Luc Mbah a MouteLAC3011022.3-0.71.6
Andre RobersonOKC2515840.71.01.6
Elfrid PaytonORL2215562.5-0.91.6
Kenneth FariedDEN271039-0.41.91.5
Nemanja BjelicaMIN288431.10.41.5
Marc GasolMEM321714-1.32.71.4
Maurice HarklessPOR2314020.80.61.4
Kevin LoveCLE281326-1.22.51.3
LeBron JamesCLE3217260.50.71.2
Jusuf NurkicDEN22791-1.12.31.2
Kelly OlynykBOS259250.40.71.2
Bismack BiyomboORL241240-3.04.11.1
Taj GibsonCHI311352-1.52.61.1
DeMarre CarrollTOR3012462.0-0.91.0
Markieff MorrisWAS271574-0.11.11.0
Corey BrewerHOU308331.8-0.81.0
Andrew HarrisonMEM2211553.1-2.20.9
Mike ConleyMEM2913334.4-3.50.9
Zach RandolphMEM351123-0.91.80.9
Karl-Anthony TownsMIN211856-2.63.50.9
Alex LenPHX23962-4.04.80.9
James Ennis IIIMEM2610041.3-0.40.9
Dwyane WadeCHI3513992.3-1.40.9
Amir JohnsonBOS29996-1.22.00.8
Raymond FeltonLAC3211002.6-1.80.7
Victor OladipoOKC2414541.5-0.80.7
Kosta KoufosSAC27972-1.72.40.7
Josh RichardsonMIA238750.60.00.6
Avery BradleyBOS2612570.8-0.10.6
Kent BazemoreATL2713451.3-0.80.5
LaMarcus AldridgeSAS311446-2.73.20.5
TJ McConnellPHI2411874.1-3.70.4
Domantas SabonisOKC201131-1.01.40.4
Andre IguodalaGSW3312620.7-0.30.4
Brook LopezBKN281351-2.32.60.4
Kyle LowryTOR3019221.6-1.30.4
Jimmy ButlerCHI2717591.2-0.90.3
Joakim NoahNYK311015-2.22.50.3
Garrett TempleSAC3013012.0-1.70.2
Dwight PowellDAL259460.6-0.40.2
Kelly Oubre Jr.WAS219862.3-2.10.2
Ish SmithDET2811900.3-0.20.1
Nikola JokicDEN211116-1.21.20.0
Trevor ArizaHOU3118650.9-0.90.0
Blake GriffinLAC2710280.00.00.0
Ty LawsonSAC2912052.4-2.5-0.1
Terrence RossTOR2611551.4-1.5-0.1
PJ TuckerPHX3114571.4-1.6-0.2
Jonas ValanciunasTOR241347-3.53.3-0.2
Solomon HillNOP2513690.3-0.6-0.3
Ricky RubioMIN2614353.1-3.4-0.3
JaMychal GreenMEM261481-1.20.9-0.3
Jae CrowderBOS2613980.9-1.2-0.3
Montrezl HarrellHOU23835-0.70.3-0.3
Terry RozierBOS228200.8-1.2-0.4
James HardenHOU2719770.4-0.8-0.4
Trey LylesUTA21974-2.01.4-0.6
Vince CarterMEM401115-0.5-0.1-0.6
Jabari ParkerMIL2117080.4-1.1-0.7
Pau GasolSAS361029-5.14.4-0.7
Dion WaitersMIA25945-0.6-0.1-0.7
Serge IbakaORL271581-3.32.4-0.8
Jeff TeagueIND2816322.2-3.0-0.8
Julius RandleLAL221290-1.30.5-0.8
Kemba WalkerCHA2616910.3-1.1-0.9
Lou WilliamsLAL3012880.5-1.4-0.9
Isaiah WhiteheadBKN21951-0.4-0.5-0.9
Jerami GrantOKC221073-2.31.3-1.0
Norman PowellTOR238461.7-2.7-1.0
Patrick PattersonTOR271090-1.90.9-1.0
Eric BledsoePHX2717050.7-1.8-1.1
Sam DekkerHOU221056-0.9-0.2-1.1
Seth CurryDAL2612732.5-3.6-1.1
Iman ShumpertCLE2612220.7-1.8-1.1
Shaun LivingstonGSW318251.0-2.1-1.2
Nicolas BatumCHA281656-1.80.6-1.2
Justin HamiltonBKN26871-2.71.5-1.2
Marquese ChrissPHX199350.2-1.5-1.3
Jonas JerebkoBOS29859-1.40.2-1.3
Dorian Finney-SmithDAL231065-0.2-1.2-1.3
Gordon HaywardUTA261532-0.9-0.6-1.5
Jahlil OkaforPHI21784-3.41.9-1.5
Marcin GortatWAS321725-3.52.0-1.5
CJ McCollumPOR251792-0.2-1.4-1.5
Tim FrazierNOP26963-0.1-1.6-1.7
Mike MuscalaATL25909-2.60.9-1.7
Tyson ChandlerPHX341194-4.32.5-1.8
Ersan IlyasovaPHI291378-2.50.7-1.8
Marvin WilliamsCHA301249-2.30.4-1.8
Malcolm BrogdonMIL2412730.6-2.5-1.9
Malcolm DelaneyATL279040.1-1.9-1.9
Jaylen BrownBOS20750-1.3-0.6-1.9
Dario SaricPHI221202-2.30.4-1.9
Enes KanterOKC241015-3.71.7-2.0
DeMar DeRozanTOR271593-0.9-1.2-2.1
Monta EllisIND3111330.9-3.1-2.2
Dennis SchroderATL231560-0.5-1.7-2.2
CJ MilesIND291001-1.3-0.9-2.2
Langston GallowayNOP2510170.9-3.1-2.2
D'Angelo RussellLAL209910.9-3.1-2.2
Jordan ClarksonLAL2414571.7-3.9-2.2
Robin LopezCHI281438-5.43.2-2.2
Wesley MatthewsDAL3016620.7-3.0-2.3
Kyrie IrvingCLE241505-0.1-2.2-2.3
Evan TurnerPOR281288-0.3-2.1-2.3
Marreese SpeightsLAC29852-4.31.6-2.7
E'Twaun MooreNOP271168-1.0-1.7-2.7
Klay ThompsonGSW261712-1.9-0.9-2.8
Glenn RobinsonIND231067-2.6-0.3-2.9
Derrick RoseNYK281379-1.5-1.4-2.9
Shelvin MackUTA269460.2-3.1-2.9
Rodney McGruderMIA2512050.3-3.3-2.9
Aaron GordonORL211467-2.6-0.4-3.1
Ramon SessionsCHA30811-0.8-2.3-3.1
Patty MillsSAS281065-0.1-3.1-3.2
Luol DengLAL311337-2.2-1.1-3.3
Frank KaminskyCHA231187-1.9-1.4-3.3
Wilson ChandlerDEN291397-3.0-0.4-3.3
George HillUTA30858-0.9-2.4-3.3
Tim Hardaway Jr.ATL241180-1.9-1.5-3.5
Carmelo AnthonyNYK321718-2.9-0.6-3.5
Channing FryeCLE33777-4.50.9-3.5
Gerald HendersonPHI291082-1.6-2.0-3.5
Goran DragicMIA301471-2.0-1.6-3.6
Jon LeuerDET271200-3.60.0-3.6
Kentavious Caldwell-PopeDET2315560.1-3.8-3.6
Marcus MorrisDET271646-2.7-1.0-3.7
TJ WarrenPHX231115-1.2-2.6-3.8
Tobias HarrisDET241644-3.0-0.9-3.8
Jamal MurrayDEN19996-1.6-2.3-3.9
Brandon JenningsNYK2713000.0-3.9-3.9
Bradley BealWAS231577-0.2-3.7-4.0
Cory JosephTOR251128-0.4-3.6-4.0
Sergio RodriguezPHI301057-0.7-3.3-4.0
Harrison BarnesDAL241789-1.7-2.3-4.0
Will BartonDEN261011-2.8-1.2-4.0
Dante CunninghamNOP29936-2.6-1.5-4.1
Darren CollisonSAC291290-0.7-3.4-4.2
Jason TerryMIL39756-0.2-4.2-4.4
Evan FournierORL241309-1.1-3.4-4.5
Matt BarnesSAC361186-2.1-2.4-4.5
Kyle KorverCLE351216-3.5-1.1-4.6
Rodney HoodUTA241145-2.9-1.7-4.7
Joe JohnsonUTA351119-4.0-0.7-4.8
Jamal CrawfordLAC361372-2.7-2.3-4.9
Jameer NelsonDEN341269-2.5-2.6-5.1
Devin BookerPHX201739-2.1-3.0-5.1
Timofey MozgovLAL301078-5.50.4-5.1
Damian LillardPOR261677-3.4-1.8-5.2
Buddy HieldNOP231037-2.9-2.3-5.2
Joe HarrisBKN25960-3.0-2.4-5.4
Sean KilpatrickBKN271333-3.2-2.3-5.5
Shabazz MuhammadMIN24921-4.0-1.5-5.5
Eric GordonHOU281524-3.1-2.6-5.6
Matthew DellavedovaMIL261200-2.4-3.2-5.6
Allen CrabbePOR241486-3.8-1.8-5.7
Richard JeffersonCLE36956-3.8-1.9-5.7
Courtney LeeNYK311468-1.3-4.5-5.8
Tony SnellMIL251401-3.3-2.5-5.8
Jeff GreenORL301213-3.4-2.5-5.9
Brandon IngramLAL191468-3.3-2.6-5.9
Austin RiversLAC241356-2.7-3.2-5.9
Danilo GallinariDEN281504-3.9-2.0-5.9
Boris DiawUTA34778-4.0-2.2-6.1
Wayne EllingtonMIA29830-1.6-4.6-6.2
Ryan AndersonHOU281569-4.9-1.5-6.4
Andrew WigginsMIN211896-3.2-3.5-6.6
JJ RedickLAC321363-2.7-4.0-6.7
Anthony TolliverSAC31877-4.3-2.5-6.8
Nik StauskasPHI231289-3.6-3.2-6.8
Nick YoungLAL311228-3.6-3.3-6.9
Doug McDermottCHI25940-5.9-1.0-6.9
Deron WilliamsDAL321112-3.7-3.3-7.0
Tony ParkerSAS34946-3.8-3.5-7.3
Isaiah ThomasBOS271621-2.6-4.7-7.3
Emmanuel MudiayDEN201237-3.8-3.6-7.4
Reggie JacksonDET26867-2.2-5.5-7.7
Bojan BogdanovicBKN271333-4.7-3.0-7.7
Zach LaVineMIN211749-2.9-5.0-7.9
Brandon KnightPHX251015-3.1-5.1-8.2
Marco BelinelliCHA301134-3.6-4.8-8.4
D.J. AugustinORL291069-3.1-6.5-9.6
Arron AfflaloSAC311088-6.8-4.7-11.5
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16 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  February 6, 2017

    What are the units of TDR? Points/48? Points/100 poss?

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

     /  February 6, 2017

    What are the units of TDR? Points/48? Points/100 poss?

    Reply
    • Units aren’t tied to a basketball event.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

         /  February 7, 2017

        Let me rephrase my question. How do interpret differences between two players’ TDR? e.g. Draymond vs Embiid: Is Draymond expected to give up 1 point less per 48 minutes than Embiid categorically or when actively defending a shooter.

        There’s been a relatively large vacuum in correlatable defensive metrics. I’m hopeful that your work is less noisy than the various APM/SPM metrics.

        Reply
  3. Firstly, interesting work. Thank you, Steve. Secondly, for the questions.

    How do you square Andre Drummond’s ranking against his On/Off numbers? 111.2 Opponent ORtg on. 101.4 Off.

    This is the Center. The anchor of the defense. Perhaps he’s not actually very good?

    Same deal with Mason Plumlee and Trevor Booker. Players who either show huge negative effects on their team’s defense in Plumlee’s case, or no positive effect on very bad Brooklyn defense in Booker’s case.

    Or you can reverse the question in the case of Chris Paul (who is highly regarded and still might be underrated), Gordon Hayward, Eric Gordon, etc . . . If Eric Gordon is so terrible at defense this year, why is Opponent ORtg 105.4, which is reasonable, when he’s in the game, and 112.4, which is horrendous, when he’s out? He’s one of the only Rockets to have such a positive split, and he plays relatively major minutes with all of Houston’s worst defenders.

    Also, the question by Anonymous poster above is a significant one. I’m not sure what the rating means if the units aren’t tied to a basketball event. How do we interpret what this rating means?

    As a contrast, On/Off numbers are sticky, complicated and take a long time to sort through, but at least we can interpret them, given that we know something about the players on the court and their respective teams. I’ve read multiple posts on the subject and still have no idea exactly what the scoring of this metric means as it relates to basketball.

    Sorry if this response seems aggressive. It’s not meant to be. Very much appreciate the time and effort something like this takes to put together, and am personally a total wonk when it comes to statistics. Thank you again.

    Reply
    • cheerios

       /  February 11, 2017

      It’s a combination of who he is on the court with and who he is playing against when he is on the court. If you look at the lineups in regards to the on/off stats it outlines this.

      Reply
      • This is a ridiculous answer. It’s 1) obvious, 2) basically means nothing without further elaboration, and 3) was already evident I understood this if you actually read the comment.

        Let’s take Andre Drummond for example, who sucks at defense. (Eye test. And data both support this claim.) Or Mason Plumlee, who is also pretty terrible there. (Again, eye test and lots of data. Just look at 2014-15 Blazers vs. current incarnation, no matter what individual metrics defensive say.) Why is this metric saying they are good?

        It’s obviously pinging potentially meaningless statistics that lead to misleading outcomes. If a metric is pinging bottom 5-10 defenders at the Center position as Top 20 and 40 overall defenders. And ones that add lots of value at that, when they are doing precisely the opposite, it’s probably somewhat unreliable as a gauge.

        The question is why is it unreliable? If you can understand this, then you can either learn to disregard wonkie results, like the ones I pointed out, or figure out a way to amend the formula so that it doesn’t output them in the first place.

        Reply
    • Look for a post coming soon with the formula.

      In regards to Andre Drummond, of his IDR of 4.6, 3.3 points come from his defensive rebounding (the most for any player). If we remove DRB from IDR, Drummond would rate as the 54th best interior defender.

      All components are in standard deviations from the mean, where the sd and mean are taken from all players w/ at least 600 min. So, almost any big rates as a positive in terms of def. rebounding and opp. FG% at the rim when compared to an average across all players.

      One could argue that this methodology is too kind to bigs, but I’d argue that this defensive contribution is why these bigs are on the court. This is why Drummond plays in spite of not being very good at passing, shooting or ball-handling. Even a weak defensive center (by NBA starting C standards) is often providing more defensively than other players in the lineup.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your response. Rebounding seems the number one way most individual defensive metrics are gamed. Perhaps it would be useful to have two defensive grades for the metric. One with defensive rebounding and one without?

        Rebounding is definitely important, but there’s a big difference between Bigs like Ben Wallace, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan who can do both rebound and adequately defend the rim/in space. And guys like Kevin Love or Andre Drummond.

        Also, I agree that the best Bigs are more valuable defensively than Smalls (in all but the most exceptional cases), but might this fact also make those who fail in their defensive responsibilities comparatively bigger negatives? And if so, might it not also make sense to grade each player against the average (or median) at their position? Since in grading players, we’re not only trying to model the way the game works but also to figure out which players give their teams the biggest advantages?

        Just some thoughts. Thanks again for the reply.

        Reply
  4. On Monroe, imo is more scheme-related the positive pdr, isn ‘ t absolutely one of the most mobile bigs in the league

    Reply
  5. cheerios

     /  March 14, 2017

    Can you do a new version of this with updated numbers? Would really love to see it.

    Reply
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