Ball Deterrence – The way to read and react analytically on Defense by Ermay Duran

As you all know during these uncertain time there is a lot to do but out of everything to keep physically strong and work on our bodies, to those of you that want to grow your game, watching basketball 24/7 is the best thing to do.

With the above in mind I want to remind you all that a little while ago I did an interview with a good friend from Turkey, Ege Özışık; while discussing several key points I yet again hinted to the fact that with regards to the consultancy work that we do at AdvProBball a majority of the clients we work with admire how much we focus on defense and how much more they gain out of the perspective we provide in this area.

To watch the interview check it out here (it is in Turkish but has English subtitles):

Ball Deterrence and what it means

Basketball as we all know it is about action and counter-reaction and which side makes the least mistakes that end up winning the game. Obviously scoring or seeking it out is inevitable. However consider this; say that out of a possible +75 possessions if you distrupt an offensive player’s dribble, shot, pass or interfere with a possible offensive rebound, what does it analytically lead to?

Well, that is how coining ball deterrence really begins. The immense amount of effort a defensive player shows to force an offensive player out of their comfort all the way to the loss of a offensive possession, eventually counter-acting to a transitional offensive situation.

Great defensive players always watch the game and react before offenses can really do their damage. As you can see in the above possession as CKSA tries to attack against Anadolu Efes, Krunoslav Simon by following his offensive matchup intervenes and deters the ball to effect causing a transitional situation for his team.

In the Euroleague alone during the 19-20 (cancelled season) there have not been many above-average players that have been :

  • Able to steal (1),
  • Successfully contest shots forcing resulting in missed shots to occur (2),
  • Have been able to grab those critical rebounds faster than their opponent (3),
  • Have allowed his team to create a transition point due to his defensive presence by reading a play (4)

There have been a total of 22 players across the Euroleague the past season that has been extremely detrimental to their team. Yet overall when we look at which team has been the most hard working across the league in trying to deter the ball the most.

The ASVEL case

At AdvProBball while we use internally established algorithms to verify ball deterrence presence based on a player roughly broken down 1 – 4 all roughly have a 0.5 scale measure that is qualitative and we simply watch out for how much the transitional plus point results in the defensive team gaining the ball back due to the “ball deterrence” effect and not just the follow up basket that occurs but how much weight it has on the quarter, half and the entire game and add them all up to the total outcome. In our scaling Asvel as a team manage to work the fastest on their feet and for this reason alone as a squad they manage to out hustle their opponents in this area.

Players with the talent to read and react

By far it takes a different skill set to be able to outwork playing against offensive players that are fast.

Facundo Campazzo is one of those players that has not just been able to create plays due to his level of passing but due to his level of defensive quickness his ball deterrence has risen in comparison to 78% of guards or wing players he matches up against in the Euroleague.

In the above possession we see Campazzo being able to read the cutting player, flashover him, cause a deflection, recover due to fast and stable footwork and also get back to his matchup and still cause a contested bad shot; making Alba Berlin lose a possession.

K.Simon more than just a wing-man

As previously touched on Krunoslav Simon is one of the players among the 22 that by far has a higher skill set which brings up the defensive awareness of the remaining 4 players he is on-court with all the time. In defensive lineup cases when we watch opponents or scout for a player we critically use the example of K.Simon and how much resemblance players can take after him.

Sergio Rodriguez the ultimate shot contestant specialist

In past seasons at CSKA and this season with Olimpia Milano, Sergio Rodriguez has been one of the frontcourt talents that has consistently been disrupting shots of offensive players to the extent that they consider him irritating to play against.

While causing a steal is the primary method of causing ball deterrence to occur and the way that defense can create offense is a measure. The effect shot deflection/contesting is by far a key that in the current state of the game has a very high value.

Sergio Rodriguez whenever during a game causes more than +4 shot deflections with success (no score) his DRtg at the end of the game usually increases by almost three times.

Conclusion

The overall attribute while effective individually and can be tracked and seen has never been one of the tangible elements till recent times as physical tracking became more pertinent to basketball. Ball deterrence has also become a new measure to look at Defense through a much wider lens. We now can differentiate not just overall high basketball IQ based on offensive skill-sets but we can add new defensive points in there too.

Mark these words as defense has been the starting point of offense (that was clear as day) and now it will be the next step basketball analytics will likely take to show its further progress.

Ermay Duran


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