Skip to content

The Extra Pass: Teams in the basement

Jan 15, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

The Extra Pass is a new daily column that’s designed to give you a better look at a theme, team, player or scheme. Today, we hope David Stern isn’t reading. 

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who have had their memory cleansed of everything lockout related, but try and remember this. Before everything went down, there was a report that David Stern told a room full of important people, including Derrick Rose, that he, “knew where the bodies are buried” in the NBA. That was pretty scary. Even though we never got clarification where the bodies are actually buried, probably (maybe?) because he was speaking metaphorically, I’ll tell you what we can find in the basement besides the bodies of writers who mistakenly tried to tie in threatening David Stern quotes into their article…and that’s bad teams doing weird things!

Here are a few facts you should know about the league’s cellar dwellers this season:

The Washington Wizards have the 10th best defense in the league. No, really.  

Somehow, the Wizards currently rank 10th in defensive efficiency, which puts them three spots higher than your defending champion Miami Heat.

To give you an idea of how defensive efficiency typically is a strong indicator of success, the current top 13 teams in defensive efficiency right now would all be in the playoffs if they started today — except, of course, for the 7-28 Wizards.

How is this possible? The league’s least efficient offense helps explain the league’s worst record, but the defense holding on strong does make you wonder if the Wizards are in for a turnaround with John Wall back in the lineup. To that point, Washington has won three games in a row with Wall back, which is obviously kind of a big deal for them.

But let’s enjoy the present, right Wizards fans? Your team is better defensively than the Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers right now. That’s something to hang your hat on.

The Charlotte Bobcats rank second in the league in points per play for ballhanders in the pick-and-roll. 

That vaunted Bobcats pick-and-roll attack! According to Synergy Sports, the Bobcats notch .88 points per play for their ballhandlers in the pick-and-roll, which ranks them second in the league.

This is pretty incredible, mainly because every team in the NBA uses picks for ballhandlers. It’s the bread and butter of nearly every NBA offense.

But it’s the Bobcats with Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon and any other pick users that rank second among all teams. With all the great point guards around the league, Kemba Walker (31st overall in P&R scoring) and Ramon Sessions (38th) are quietly consistent enough as scorers to have the Bobcats rank as elite in this category.

You just keep on setting screens and doing your thing, Bismack Biyombo. You may not be scoring, but your guards are.

New Orleans Hornets rookie Austin Rivers may be having the worst season ever.

I do wish this was hyperbole, but according to stat magician Kevin Pelton, Rivers has the worst WARP (wins above replacement player) rating since 1979-80, the first year with the 3-point line. That’s right — Rivers is projected to cost his team more wins than every single player who came before him for the last 30+ years.

That ranking aside, shooting 32 percent from the field is hard enough, but Rivers keeps getting worse, as he’s shot 22 percent from the field over his last ten games. The good news is that Monty Williams appears ready to hand out playing time elsewhere with Eric Gordon back in the fold. Rivers, quite clearly, is not ready for the NBA yet.

But here’s the good news in regards to Pelton’s WARP — a negative rookie season doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed:

(…) a poor first season isn’t necessarily a death knell for a player’s career. Allan Houston, Chris Kaman and Glen Rice all developed into All-Stars after rating at least three wins below replacement as rookies. And none of those players was anywhere near as young or inexperienced as Rivers at the time.

Via Kevin Pelton | ESPN.com

After all, if the Wizards can rank 10th in defense, anything is possible.

Orlando’s offense is better without Glen “Big Baby” Davis. However, the defense is much, much better with him on the floor. 

Down is up, left is right, war is peace. Glen Davis hurts Orlando offensively, but helps defensively. Who knew? Orlando posts an impressive 105.7 offensive rating when Davis is off the floor, which would be good for 7th in the league.

However, when Davis is on the floor, Orlando drops to a 101 offensive rating, which would sink them to 17th in the league.

But fear not, because Glen Davis is apparently a defensive stopper! Defensively with Davis on the floor, Orlando holds opponents to a 101.7 rating — 12th best in the league.

But with him off the floor, Orlando is a disaster defensively without their Big Baby, surrendering a 110.6 rating, which would be dead last in the league by a large margin.

With 824 minutes on the floor and 919 minutes off, the sample size is pretty substantial. The solution? If Glen Davis used less possessions and focused on tip-ins and offensive rebounds, the Magic could, theoretically, have a high ranking offense and defense. Of course, basketball doesn’t quite work like that, but it’s something worth considering when you watch Davis get the ball from now on.

Latest Posts
  1. Kobe Bryant says elite players like LeBron, himself are underpaid. He’s right.

    Aug 23, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant

    Kobe may be right, but you can’t win the argument with the common perception.

  2. Team USA’s top 5 plays vs. Puerto Rico (VIDEO)

    Aug 23, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson prominently featured.

  3. Stephen Curry put on a show against Puerto Rico (VIDEO)

    Aug 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    It was a good night to be Stephen Curry.

  4. USA Basketball announces 12 man roster for World Cup; Parsons, Hayward, Lillard, Korver cut

    Aug 23, 2014, 1:20 AM EDT

    Puerto Rico v United States Getty Images

    Team USA kept four centers on the roster. That’s a bit of a surprise.

  5. USA Basketball cruises to exhibition win over Puerto Rico with final roster cuts looming

    Aug 23, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    The players who got DNP-CDs in this one may be the ones who stay home.

  6. J.R. Smith wants Knicks shooting guards to ‘put their egos aside’

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT

    Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith

    Playing time decisions will be interesting with four legitimate options competing for minutes.

  7. Team USA will make (potentially final) cuts Saturday

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver all possibilities for chopping block

  8. Ricky Rubio representing NBA2K in Spain (PHOTO)

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2 Getty Images

    A fine choice, even if he isn’t the best current NBA player from Spain.

  9. Hornets sign first round pick P.J. Hairston

    Aug 22, 2014, 4:02 PM EDT

    PJ Hairston PJ Hairston

    Hairston’s guarantee will total $2 million over two seasons.

  10. J.R. Smith wants to be leader for Knicks this season

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT

    Charlotte Bobcats v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Watching Smith and his gunner, ball-stopping tendencies try to fit in the move-the-ball, read and react triangle offense is going to be interesting. To put it kindly.

  11. Jeremy Lin feeling comfortable, even with new wax statue of himself

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT

    Jeremy Lin wax figure

    His critics don’t get it, but Jeremy Lin is a solid NBA guard now.

  12. Report: Klay Thompson a Mike Krzyzewski favorite for Team USA

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    Krzyzewski – surprise, surprise – also reportedly likes Mason Plumlee, who played at Duke

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (4129)
  2. K. Love (2391)
  3. K. Bryant (2338)
  4. L. James (2335)
  5. S. Marion (2301)
  1. A. Davis (2210)
  2. K. Irving (2170)
  3. R. Allen (1985)
  4. E. Bledsoe (1915)
  5. D. Cousins (1877)