In the comments section of a recent post, Tomato Can referenced an article on fivethirtyeight.com called “The Best Way To Derail An NBA Offense? Make It Waste Time.”
Time on the shot clock is an offense’s most valuable resource. Without it, a team is dead in the water, no matter the skill level of its players. (I’m feeling shades of Lydia Tár at the moment…) The shot clock is the lifeline that keeps a scoring opportunity alive and is even more precious in today’s high-stakes, high-speed league.
Anyone who follows basketball knows how important it is to get into your offensive sets quickly. Shots that come early in that 24-second window, while the defense is getting their bearings, are generally considered more valuable than late-clock options. But what happens when a defensive pest picks up the ball-handler deep in the backcourt and harasses him across and through the mid court-line?
Jared Dubin’s piece focuses on the effectiveness of such a strategy. He writes, “On average over the past 10 seasons, the first four seconds of the shot clock within the half-court have been worth more points per 100 possessions (9.68) than the next 11 seconds combined (7.70). That means the earlier in the shot clock that you get the ball up the floor and then perform an offensive action, the better.”
For example, the Sacramento Kings have the league’s top offensive rating. They are also one of the NBA’s best at getting into their sets. Coach Mike Brown is quoted as saying, “[Get] into your offense with 21 or 20 seconds on the shot clock.”
The antidote to an early offense is an early defense. Have your lead defender lock in on the opponent’s inbound pass and make it difficult to advance up the floor. As Dubin’s article explains, “The more time you want the offense to waste, the farther up the floor you should apply pressure on the ball handler.”
The top guys who excel at this sort of defensive assignment include guard Jose Alvarado (Pelicans), Aaron Holiday (Hawks), and Jevon Carter (Milwaukee Bucks). These are all guys who pick up their man over 50 feet from his hoop.
You might be thinking, If only the Knicks had a defensive gnat who is great at bugging a point guard deep in enemy territory.
They do. Mr. Miles “Deuce” McBride is fourth on the list.
As Mike Breen mentioned during the most recent telecast, assistant coaches have said they would love to have a guy like McBride on their roster. His defense is the primary reason why. He has a defensive rating of 115.2 this season (Statmuse.com), and as Dubin writes:
For McBride, being annoying is actually part of the point. “Nothing better than seeing a guy [who] you can mentally break and then physically wear down,” McBride said with a laugh.
It’s a good article, so go read it for the nifty graphs and deeper insight. I was pleased to see Deuce get the recognition and thanks again to Tomato Can for the tip. Now if only Deuce could get more playing time. . . .
Editor’s Note: Fixed the erroneous spelling in the title. Thx, Et tu.