One Possible Reason for Our Defensive Worries...

... may be our thinning backcourt.

Let's face it, our D schemes are built on tight, aggressive man defense at every position.  You need quality bigs, to be sure.  Bigs who can rebound (KL, LMRAM, LMR, AA2), hedge on pick and rolls (LMRAM, AA2, and especially LMR!), and fill their roles with brains and toughness and/or tenacity (all our bigs, including Keefe).

But, in recent years, by far our strongest area of defense has been perimeter D.  Look at last year -- we had a reliable, formidable 4-man defensive rotation in the backcourt.  

(1)  AA -- a great combination of strength and almost limitless endurance, enabling him to chase and handcuff shooters.  Maybe not the #1 quickest SG around, but quick enough, and freakishly determined.

(2)  DC -- applying one-man pressure to force PGs to set up their offenses 3-4 feet further out, or get in sync 3-4 seconds later in the shot clock, everytime.

(3)  Roll -- again, not the quickest guy in the world, playing smart defense and not messing up the team schemes.

(4)  RW -- pure quickness and aggressiveness off the bench.

FOUR GUYS, without even counting JS swinging down to the backcourt in times of injury or crazy foul trouble.

Even the year before, we sent guys after opposing guards and swingmen in waves, with Farmar, AA, the green-but-whippet-fast DC, and the underrated Ced Bozeman.  Yeah, Ced played the 3 in our sets, but still -- a long-armed 6-6 guy who covered whomever you wanted?  Sold.

THIS YEAR?  Hooooo boy.

(1)  DC -- Coming off injury, but back to his time-burning, floor-extending one-man press.  Check.

(2)  RW -- Playing smarter, tougher D at the 2-guard spot.  Check.

And, um...  hmmm... oh dear... who else?  Oh yeah...

(2.5)  JS -- occasionally playing the 2, and still adjusting to the different D assignments.

I have believed for several eyars that to have an effective defense -- not necessarily a Detroit Piston "Bad Boys" D, but an EFFECTIVE one -- you need some basic elements.  In brief, they are:

(A)  INTERCEPTOR -- a guy with quickness to disrupt the opposing PG and keep them from setting up right away.  Preferably your PG or other good handles guy who can steal the ball and score at the other end on his own.
e.g., Collison last year, Byron Scott on the Showtime Lakers, Tyus Edney on the '95 Champs.

(B)  SEEKER -- Like Potter on a broom, your go-to chaser guy.  If the other team has a freakish shooter off screens, or a crazy slash and finisher, you send THIS GUY to cuff him and stuff him.
e.g., Coop on the Showtime Lakers; Kobe and/or Rick Fox during the Bling Era; AA last year.

(C)  INTERCHANGEABLE WINGS -- You know the types.  6-4 to 6-8 guys, long-armed, absurdly fast quick-twitch muscles.  Guys who can double the post and still get back to the shooters.  Guys who, if they switch off on pick and rolls or fighting through screens, can pick up the other guy's man with no worries.  Can include your seeker or even your interceptor.
e.g., Charles O'Bannon and Toby Bailey and Ed; Jordan and Pippen and Harper; Fox and Horry and Kobe.

(D)  BACKSTOP -- Shotblocking is great, but not entirely essential, depending on the team.  However, the backstop has to take up space (by muscle or plain mass), control that space (by length or by strength), and make other guys regret going into the surrounding airspace (block 'em or rock' em).  
e.g., Hollins in '06, Mata in '07.

In any event, let's face it:  guards have to run around more.  A LOT MORE.  Thus, it's important to have quality and quantity of depth in the backcourt if you want to keep chasing shooters, taking PGs out of sync, and fighting through screens.

This year, with a healthy Roll, a 3-guard rotation in the backcourt (since LMRAM is just better at 4 for us than he is at 3, thereby forcing JS to be at the 3 again this year) would have changed things, but would still have been doable.  Conceivably, DC would have start at the 1, Roll may have been a named starter at the 2, and RW would coms in to spell either and still play starter's minutes.  Start RW instead of Roll, and it'd still have arguably the same effect.

But without Roll?  Geez, we're playing with a two and one-half guard rotation here:  DC and RW with extended minutes, and JS essentially the 3rd guard here, and only part-time, at that.

In years past, we've had an abundance of guys in the 6-0 to 6-6 range (Dijon, Ced, AA, Roll, RW, Jordan, DC, Shipp, etc.)  NOW?  Holy freaking BLEEP.

We've got an interceptor, we've got a seeker, but the interhcangeable wings are lacking.  Granted, CBH's defensive schemes don't call for that many switches, but the same skill sets and physical attributes are needed.  

Right now our guys have plenty of strength, but we need to develop our younger quicks.

Think of it this way -- we have THREE rotation guys capable of defending the center position on this squad:  Love, Mata-Real, and Aboya.

We have SIX guys capable of defending one or both forward positions on this squad:  Aboya, LMRAM, Keefe, Shipp, Drago, even Mata-Real (who still has the edge on footspeed and alterals over Kevin.)

Um, how many guys do we have that are capable of guarding guards?  Seriously.  THREE.  Darren, Russell, and Josh -- and Josh is having some trouble on that end.

And his troubles reflect the team's troubles.  That's our big problem.  I'm not blaming Josh, or anyone else.  The fact is, though, we need to get help for our backcourt, and on the defensive end.

Personally, I still think Chace will be the key to stopping the stretch-run bleeding, but Chace MUST practice well enough and develop fast enough to get IN the game.  The kid may still be thin, but he clearly has athleticism.  He may not be AA 3.0, but we clear need some energy on the perimeter to spell our starters.

Otherwise, we could have more problems.  Shoot, we are already having some now -- look how many times the back door has been open.

It is clearly fixable, but it HAS to be fixed soon.

We need another wing.  We need another seeker/ chaser.

I think we need Chace.

OK, enough from me.  Feedback is welcome.

M

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