Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NBA's Weakest Links

A good gameplan is invaluable in the NBA. It's the difference between a win and a loss most nights.

More often than not, the gameplan is built around attacking the other team's weakest link. It's like a nature show- the predators circle the herd until they can single out the old, clumsy one to be their dinner.

Here's a team-by-team listing of who opposing coaches consistently try to exploit:

Mike Bibby. The dude couldn't guard me, much less NBA-level point guards. When Jamal Crawford enters the fray, he becomes the target.

They don't really have an Achilles Heel to speak of. Maybe that's why they keep going the Finals.

DJ Augustin wears a bullseye every night. Boris Diaw is soft like cookie dough.

Derrick Rose has improved a bit but is still viewed as a favorable matchup by most coaches.

Anyone not named Anderson Varejao will do but Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison are usually the focal points.

Kidd and Dirk both get isolated a lot on the perimeter because of their lack of footspeed.

Whoever Al Harrington or Melo guards has a big night.

Ben Gordon and Charlie V both play D like cancer patients.

Only Dorell Wright defends. Take your pick from anyone else.

Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks have a rep for only playing one side of the ball.

Mike Dunleavy. Too easy.

Another toss up. When you can score easily on everyone, why bother singling someone out? That's just cruel.

Derek Fisher. Fish has had trouble staying in front of PGs for ages now. Russell Westbrook devoured him in the playoffs last year.

Z-Bo has blocked one shot this year. He might as well cherry pick on every possession.

Carlos Arroyo is the Puerto Rican Mike Bibby.

Cory Maggette and defense go together like vodka and milk. Drew Gooden also loses interest when he's not shooting the ball.

Again, too many options. All you need to do is move the ball around. Kevin Love makes Brad Miller look like Usain Bolt.

Devin Harris' guy can take it easy and let everyone else feast. Trout and Bropez take the most abuse.

New Orleans
Marco Belinelli has inherited geriatric Peja's role as 'one-dimensional shooter who can't defend for shit.' It's amazing to me they're winning so much, honestly.

New York
Why is Amar'e so aggressive on offense yet so passive on D? He's got the physical tools to be a great defender but lacks the grit. Can you imagine Charles Oakley in Stoudemire's body?

Last year, their D was great. This year, not so much. I refuse to believe Shawn Livingston was the difference.

Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter and Jameer get lots of attention. Problem is, all three have the best defensive big man in the game behind them to erase mistakes and blown assignments. A nice luxury.

Elton Brand even looks like a hobbled old water buffalo. Try him first.

Steve Nash, all day, every day.

Brandon Roy's knees are reportedly bone-on-bone. Go after him. Or Andre Miller.

UPDATE: Roy missed tonight's game. Ruh roh.

Beno is Slovenian for 'help.' Just kidding, it actually means 'rapist.' Still kidding. I have no idea what Beno means in Slovenian.

Tony Parker, DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner. In his career, Tim Duncan's covered up more mistakes than the Pentagon.

Last year, Andrea Bargnani proved he was too earthbound to check centers. This year, he's too lumbering to stay with power forwards.

Al Jefferson's currently playing out of position at C. Go inside early and often.

Gilbert's a notoriously crappy defender. So's Yi Jianlian. And Al Thornton. And JaVale McGee. No gameplan necessary.

So there you have it. Now you can be an NBA coach.

Before signing off I'd like to point out that advance defensive stats don't always support my selections. But with as much covering and helping as happens in most NBA games, it's rare that the initial matchup is what results in the made basket. A typical play would be more like this: Bibby's man beats him off the dribble, gets into the paint, dishes to a wide open shooter, scrambling defense rotates, open shooter dishes to even more wide open shooter, made bucket- all because Bibby couldn't keep his guy out of the paint. Statistically, Bibby doesn't get 'credited' with giving up the basket because two passes occurred after his blown assignment. But he's the reason the defense fails, whether stats show that or not.

Pictured: Bibby in familiar territory- trailing the play, ten feet off the ball with his hands down

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