Last week, the NBA added even more data people can dive into at their leisure. Already armed with an arsenal of advanced statistics, the NBA added new defensive and hustle data figures to digest.
One of the hustle stats unveiled was box outs.
From the NBA.com article: ”The importance of boxing out an opponent has been drilled into basketball players from day one. When a shot goes up, don’t just stare at the ball and watch what happens, get a body on someone so you’re in position to secure the rebound in case the shot misses.”
In other words, it is tracking how well players get in position themselves to grab those hotly contested rebounds. Not surprisingly Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan are near the top. The leader is Steven Adams at 11.5 followed by Enes Kanter with 9.5 while Jordan and Drummond at 8.8 and 8.6 respectively.
Here’s how Adams reacted to the news...
I asked Steven Adams about leading the NBA in box-outs. He mocked the question, sarcastically quipped it was going to get him a shoe deal and goes, “Oh, do you wanna be a good screener?! Great! Thumbs up, mate!” pic.twitter.com/9a3AC9lZRx— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 22, 2018
That said, here’s where various Nets rank...
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leads the Nets at 5.3 boxouts. That figure ties him with Pau Gasol, Anthony Davis and Tristan Thompson for 34th in the league.
It’s hardly surprising since Hollis-Jefferson averages 6.5 rebounds, slightly behind DeMarre Carroll for the team lead. He also holds a rebounding percentage of 12 percent and a defensive rebounding percentage of 18.9.
Next up are rookie Jarret Allen and Quincy Acy, who are neighbors in the ranking. Allen is tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin, and Daniel Theis at 4.7 boxouts per game while Acy shares his 4.6 boxouts per game with Brook Lopez and Jacob Poetl.
After Allen and Acy in terms of rotation players are Dante Cunningham who shares his 3.3 boxouts per game with rookie Lauri Markkanen, Jarrell Martin, and James Johnson.
Then comes Jahlil Okafor at 3.1 per game, though Carroll’s two box outs per game might be a surprise since he leads the team in rebounds per game. Then again, his 11.7 rebounding percentage is fourth among current rotation players.
You’ll also notice a trend in these numbers. Virtually every player who ranks high in boxouts is a forward, which makes sense since even though we’re in this era of big men stretching the floor, more times than not a forward is the one tracking down or making the attempt to track down rebounds.
Besides the data on box outs to go along with other “Hustle Stats” introduced in the 2016 playoffs, the league also unveiled data called defensive and matchup box scores.
What those figures tell you is how many points the opponent scored while a specific player was on the court. This differentiates from plus-minus, which has been around for at least a decade if not longer.
What it does is tell you how many points someone allowed against the player he was directly guarding during the game. For example, this is from the Nets last game before the All-Star break against the Indiana Pacers.
Let’s look at two of the Nets better defenders using the new stats...
We can tell Allen Crabbe was on the court for a team-leading 71 possessions and gave up 11 points to the person he was directly guarding while the Pacers scored 73 points in those possessions. During those possessions, opponents were 0-for-4 on contested field goals against Crabbe and 4-for-16 overall against him.
For Carroll, his numbers from this are 68 possessions, nine points, 66 points by the Pacers, 4 for 11 shooting by those he was guarding, including 3-for-8 on contested shots.
Overall, the Pacers were 14-for-33 (42.4 percent) on contested shots and all those shots were inside the 3-point line. That figure occurred in a game where the Pacers shot 43.3 percent (39-of-90) and made 6-of-15 3-pointers (40 percent). So from reading the defensive data you can tell Indiana was 25-for-57 (43.8 percent) on non-contested shots.
FYI, here’s the definition of a contested shot according to the NBA...
The number of times a defensive player or team closes out and raises a hand to contest a shot prior to its release.
So “contesting” is kind of limited.
You can spend hours reviewing this, especially since the Nets have played 59 games so far. And considering they have lost seven straight and 40 times overall, some of the figures might not be pleasant to read but reveal beyond what you see and might even confirm what you witness in person on television and from the coaches’ perspective in film sessions.