Skip to content

The Extra Pass: Teams in the basement

Jan 15, 2013, 9:00 AM EST

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. What’s the best way to defend Kings’ cherry-picking idea?

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:00 PM EST

    NBA teams are considering the question

  2. Daryl Morey believes two bad shots are better than one good shot (always), but data wasn’t significant enough for Jeff Van Gundy to change

    Feb 27, 2015, 7:59 PM EST

    Houston Rockets Draft Picks Press Conference Getty Images

    An interesting anecdote from Morey (speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference) about how the data showed an advantage, but not one big enough for his coach to change.

  3. Re-inventing the Wheel: Mike Zarren presents modified NBA-draft-lottery-reform proposals

    Feb 27, 2015, 6:59 PM EST

    the modified draft wheel

    Instead of 30-year plan, assistant Celtics general manager unveils five-year and 10-year plans

  4. Shane Battier: ‘I think a 60-game season would be perfect’

    Feb 27, 2015, 5:30 PM EST

    Shane Battier Shane Battier

    There are financial obstacles in the way of dropping 22 games from the schedule, but Battier makes a somewhat compelling case.

  5. Kyrie Irving has strained left shoulder, out Friday vs. Pacers

    Feb 27, 2015, 4:56 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v New York Knicks Getty Images

    He’s day to day. (Insert your Keith Olberman joke here.)

  6. NBA to release “Last Two Minutes” officiating reports through end of season, playoffs

    Feb 27, 2015, 4:30 PM EST

    Boston Celtics Vs. Brooklyn Nets At TD Garden Getty Images

    It’s not going to change most fans’ minds, but it’s a good first step.

  7. Report: Highest bid for Atlanta Hawks currently $800 million

    Feb 27, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Six Getty Images

    Don’t be surprised if another bidder comes in over the top.

  8. Report: If Ray Allen return to NBA this season it will not be with Cleveland

    Feb 27, 2015, 3:15 PM EST

    Ray Allen Getty Images

    Don’t expect him to return, but if he does Cleveland appears off the list.

  9. The time Michael Jordan asked Common to forge his signature (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 2:45 PM EST

    87th Annual Academy Awards - Red Carpet Getty Images

    Turns out Common was a Bulls ball boy back in the early Jordan era in Chicago, so he and Michael Jordan had some laughs together.

  10. Jeff Van Gundy to Daryl Morey when he flinched at using analytics to make a decision: ‘Either you believe in this sh-t or you don’t’

    Feb 27, 2015, 2:14 PM EST

    Game One Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Eastern Conference Finals Game One Getty Images

    The data said that Dikembe Mutombo was better than Yao Ming, but Morey wasn’t ready to make that call.

  11. Shane Battier says peer pressure is more valuable than coaching in the NBA

    Feb 27, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Shane Battier Shane Battier

    A team’s best players hold each other accountable, according to the former NBA player.

  12. Report: Phil Jackson to get fined for innocuous comment on Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell

    Feb 27, 2015, 12:48 PM EST

    Celebrities Attend Vancouver Canucks Vs New York Rangers Game - February 19, 2015 Getty Images

    Phil Jackson can’t just quietly sneak into a building and watch a prospect, so a reporter asked him a question. Jackson answered and will pay for that.

  13. Derrick Rose expected to return in 4-6 weeks. In time for playoffs.

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:58 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    This makes the Bulls a lot more dangerous come the playoffs.

  14. Draymond Green drives for dunk, Timofey Mozgov isn’t going to stop him (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:28 AM EST

    draymond green Getty Images

    The Cavaliers’ rim protection has been infinitely better since the arrival of Timofey Mozgov, but he wasn’t stopping Draymond Green on this one.

  15. Kyle Lowry on his game of late: “I’m trash.”

    Feb 27, 2015, 10:44 AM EST

    Raptors DeRozan and Lowry against Hawks Getty Images

    DeMar DeRozan says he’s right next to Lowry on this.

  16. Eric Bledsoe, Russell Westbrook put on a show (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:10 AM EST

    Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len AP

    Westbrook had the numbers but Bledsoe was efficient.

  17. Kyrie Irving to get MRI on shoulder, did not travel with Cavs to Indianapolis

    Feb 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EST

    Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    He’s officially doubtful for Friday against the Pacers.

Featured video

Is Derrick Rose the next Penny Hardaway?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (8611)
  2. D. Rose (7736)
  3. S. Curry (7584)
  4. D. Howard (7426)
  5. M. Carter-Williams (7359)
  1. P. George (7003)
  2. C. Bosh (6716)
  3. A. Davis (6399)
  4. B. Beal (6176)
  5. K. Olynyk (5791)