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Who's Got Your Back?

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The more I see Dalembert trade ideas kicked around, the more something scares me. If you watched the Sixers play this season, even a little bit, it should scare you as well.

In today's NBA we hear an awful lot about how the anti-hand checking rules are making it open season for penetrating guards. The fact of the matter is, even the best defensive points are having a ton of trouble keeping their men out of the paint. A guy like Chris Paul can basically dribble wherever he wants on the floor, no one can stop him. The knee-jerk reaction is that teams absolutely have to get better defense out of their guards to limit this. While a lockdown defender at the point will certainly make things better, it's far from the complete solution. If you don't have a shot blocker patrolling the paint, you're basically helpless.

Look at it this way, even the best defensive point in the league (and I'm not sure I can tell you who that is right now) can't keep the quicker guards out of the lane. Not with the rules the way they are right now. Penetration is something you can try to slow down, but you can't stop it. No one can. A good, quick guard is going to get into the lane. There are really only a couple of ways to stop the penetration from killing, you can either sag down in the lane with your perimeter guys and create a traffic jam in the lane, or you can have a center who protects the hoop. The first solution really isn't any solution at all. Good points will simply drive, draw the D and kick out to wide-open shooters behind the arc. As Sixers fans, we saw plenty of this in 2008-2009.

Now, back to Dalembert. I want everyone to think back to what happened this season whenever the Sixers had a player at the five who wasn't named Sammy or Theo. It shouldn't be hard to remember, layup after layup, usually uncontested. Followed shortly thereafter by drive-and-kick threes, with a healthy dose of over-helping thrown in for good measure. Oh, and a boatload of offensive rebounds for the other team as well.

This is life in the NBA these days. Without a center who can control the paint (either by blocking, or altering shots), you're lost. The penetration will kill you, one way or the other. No matter who the Sixers get to fill their PG vacancy, it won't matter if they don't have someone to patrol the paint.

Obviously, this is all theory on my part. Where the Sixers are concerned, I think it's a theory that you can pretty easily prove with stats (Dalembert's on/off stats). But even those numbers don't tell the whole story.

Here's a stat I'd like to see. How does Samuel Dalembert's presence on the floor affect his teammates' defense. For example, according to 82games.com, Andre Miller's man produced at an 18.4 rate. I want to see a split of what Andre's man produced at with Dalembert on the floor with him, and without. I'd bet there's an enormous jump when anyone else was at the five. Same with Willie Green.

Sammy's a very easy mark. It's great fun to mock the goaltends, the silly turnovers, the bad jumpers. What's much, much harder to do is to quantify what it means to have him on the floor defensively. I'd love to see a stat like this, I think it would give us a much better look at how much he really means to the team.
by Brian on May 18 2009
Tags: Basketball | Offseason | Samuel Dalembert | Sixers |