It’s hard to measure a basketball player’s individual defense. If Kevon Looney fails to stop Steph Curry’s man from scoring after Curry gambles on a steal, who gets the blame? If Klay Thompson nabs a pass after Draymond Green pressures a ball-handler, who gets the credit?
Over at the website FiveThirtyEight, they’ve developed a new metric to calculate the best defenders in the NBA.
“(The stat) gets at one essential discovery we made in playing around with the opponents’ shooting data: the idea of minimizing openness,” Nate Silver wrote on FiveThirtyEight. “The main goal of shooting defense, especially in today’s spacing-centric, ball-movement-forward offensive era, is really to minimize the chance of an open shot.”
The math is a little complicated, but the basic idea is that it’s good to be close to shooters as often as possible, because being close to a shooter significantly reduces their chances of making the shot than if they were wide-open.
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FiveThirtyEight titled this new stat “Defensive Rating Accounting for Yielding Minimal Openness by Nearest Defender,” or DRAYMOND. The best player over the last six seasons, according to DRAYMOND? You might have guessed it: It’s Draymond Green, the Warriors’ versatile forward known for his ability to guard all five positions.
The Warriors generally grade out well by the metric. Kevon Looney ranked as one of last season’s best defenders by DRAYMOND, and both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are considered above-average defenders over the last few seasons.
If you’re interested in the full explanation and the DRAYMOND rankings of each NBA player, you can click over to FiveThirtyEight, where they’ve offered a thorough breakdown of their methodology.
Michael Rosen is an SFGATE homepage editor. Email: [email protected].