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Fun With Synergy: Jrue's Post Defense

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As many of you know, Synergy Sports has opened up their database to the masses. For $30 you can access a version of their service created for the masses. Click here for the details (make sure your computer can handle it before you buy). I expect to be spending way too much time looking at the video and granular stats they provide for the remainder of the summer, and I'll share my thoughts with you as I go along. Today, Jrue's post defense.

Before we dive in, let me explain my purpose with these posts. Throughout the season, things stick in my mind. Random thoughts, theories, trends. Until now, I've never had a chance to go back and look at them in any detail, so they sort of fade into the background. With this service, though, I can go back and not only see the statistical relevancy of the trends, but I can see the actual video of the situations. Jrue's post defense is something I marveled at on several occasions during the season, and I spent about 20 minutes watching the 45 plays when Jrue was posted up.

First, here's a look at some of the players who tried to take Jrue down to the weight room (Zumoff on my mind, ugh):

  • Kobe Bryant
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Stephen Jackson
  • Paul Pierce
  • Rodney Stuckey
  • Joe Johnson
  • Danilo Gallinari
  • Russell Westbrook
  • David West
  • Kevin Garnett
  • Emeka Okafor
  • Dahntay Jones (remember what he did to Lou in the post?)
  • Trevor Ariza

When I looked at the film, the first thing that struck me was how often Jrue wound up on bigs on the blocks. The Sixers really did switch everything on some nights, and teams went right at him when he was on a big. Almost without fail, though, he was up to the task.

Before we get to the results, I want to talk about Jrue's technique. It's really a thing of beauty. His initial defense seems dictated by the size of the man posting him. If he's about the same size or smaller, he jockeys for position, looking to front and cut off the entry pass. If he's at a size disadvantage, he gets down low and literally drives his man away from the hoop using leverage. Out of the 45 plays I saw, only once did he get burned for fronting (Wade beat him with a quick spin on a baseline feed for a dunk), and almost without fail he was able to move his man away from the hoop before the catch. That's half the battle right there, the difference between making a catch 8 feet from the rim and 15 feet from the rim is huge.

Once his man had the ball, he used a low center of gravity to stop his man from backing him down, and seemed to have an excellent feel for when to pull the chair, when to dart for the steal and most importantly, when to strip down on the ball.

Here are results of the 45 plays:

  • 9 FG / 26 attempts (34.6% from the floor)
  • 11 times the shooter was fouled
  • 1 and-one situation
  • 1 dunk, 1 hook, 2 layups, 5 jumpers on the makes
  • 7 turnovers
  • 5 blocked shots
All told, these size mismatches, sometimes drastic size mismatches, equaled 33 points on 45 possessions for the opposing team.

In the grand scheme of things, why does this matter? Having a point guard who can not only guard bigger players, but guard them in the post opens a number of doors. First, you can use him on opposing teams' off guards, no matter how big they are. Second, if you're utilizing  any kind of trapping, pressure defense, you're going to wind up switching, when your PG can handle multiple positions, this becomes less of an issue. Third, depending on the personnel, switching the pick-and-roll becomes an option. Finally, Jrue is almost always the last line of defense to stop transition plays for the other team. Unfortunately, it's not always a guard who is first down the floor for the opposition. Typically, bigs try to post smalls in transition for easy looks at the hoop. Those looks aren't so easy against Jrue.

Essentially, what we're talking about here is defensive versatility. Andre Iguodala can legitimately guard four positions on the floor. If it turns out Jrue can guard three, there's a lot of things a bright defensive mind can do to make life difficult for opposing teams.
by Brian on Apr 21 2010
Tags: Basketball | Jrue Holiday | Offseason | Sixers | Synergy Sports |