See what I did there?
Defense in any sport is a complex thing. Almost impossible to track statistically. In baseball the outfielders with the best arms often have minimal throw-outs, or in basketball the players with the most steals are often not the best defenders. I don't have access to video editing software, so I unfortunately can't make a fancy post with video breakdown to assist me, but I'll do my best, and keep it as succinct as I possibly can.
- The Point Guards
Andre Miller: 6'2", 200# Drafted 1999 in the first round (8th pick)
Andre has a wealth of experience to draw on when it comes to playing defense. He's been largely regarded as a defensive liability, however against inexperienced or lower tier point guards his defense is passable to good. He studies tape well, and doesn't go for silly, aggressive steals or unnecessary grabs. He drops back, and recovers well on the double team, getting a majority of his strips on the opposing big man. He's not afraid to take a charge.
Andre goes under screens. It cannot be overstated how much that makes a difference in a defensive scheme. This frees up the opposing point's shooting range, his driving lane, and worst of all: his vision of the court. A very bad combination when the opponent is named Wade, Williams, Paul or Kidd. Followed in a few years by Rose and Jennings. Andre also has a tendency to play his man for the drive by backing off an extra couple of feet. This is fine for a non-shooter like Rondo, but there are far too many PGs in the league capable, and willing, to knock down an open jumper.
Andre Miller is Andre Miller. What we saw this season is exactly what Blazer fans can expect to see, until his age inevitably catches up with him. Funny thing about a guy like Miller is that he's made a career out of seeming older than he is, and here he is as the NBA iron man. He'll continue to use his BBIQ, and the proverbial Veteran Savvy. And though those might be redundant terms, we know exactly what to expect from Andre Miller.
Jerryd Bayless: 6'3", 204# Drafted 2008 in the first round (11th pick)
If there is one word that can summarize Bayless, on both ends of the court, I would say that's probably it. It can play to his favor. If the calls go his way, he'll dominate. He's physical, he's stubborn, and he's bold. That is exactly the kind of player that you need in the playoffs, IF he's under control. Which brings us to...
B-Rex. This is a very VERY good nickname for him. At first it was because of his little arms. In my opinion it's now because of his total frontal vision. Bayless has no peripheral, which limits him on both ends of the floor. On his drives he is completely zeroed in on the basket, ignoring defenders that are abandoning their assignments like juvenile delinquents on Pixie Stix. On defense he zeroes in on the ball in much the same way. I've watched him play, and he doesn't play his man's eyes, he plays the ball. He reaches on drives, he helps too far away from his man, and he can be abused by larger 2-guards, i.e. every other 2-guard except Monta Ellis.
No. Not flashes...
For strobe lights in the series against the Suns Bayless demonstrated competency on the defensive end. His little arms were splayed as wide as he could make them, but he compensated by straightening his torso, and improving his lateral movement. He fought through picks, rather than ducking under them. He pressured the ball, without fouling. He covered the double, and recovered quickly. But only for strobes. A little longer than flashes, but it needs to be carried over into next year.
Patty Mills 6'0", 180# Drafted 2009 in the second round (25th pick)
He Only Gets The Skinny:
The truth is we haven't seen enough of Patty Mills to know how good he'll be defensively over a long haul of an NBA season. Suffice it to say that any judging now would be premature. Patty is potentially very fast laterally, but it remains to be seen how much his injury, and his height, hurt him.
- The Shooting Guards
Brandon Roy 6'6", 211# Drafted in the first round (6th pick)
Brandon is capable of stepping it up on defense. He's showed it in flashes (Joe Johnson harassment, 2007. His 10 steals... 2008?) And he's got good size. He's not a guy you can post up unless you're Ron Artest or bigger. He has better footwork than people give him credit for, especially when it comes to directing a player to an area or a side, usually utilizing his size advantage to do so.
Brandon doesn't usually show up to play defense.
Brandon's offense is 90% of the time going to trounce his lack of defense. The problem? 90% of that 10% comes in the playoffs. Chew on that for a while.
Rudy Fernandez 6'6", 170# Drafted in the first round (24th pick)
Rudy Fernandez plays his best defense as ball denial. At his best he plays the passing lanes perfectly. He has a good basketball IQ, and he knows the optimal passing angles. In the open court he is quick to draw a charge, and is aggressive on the ball in the open court.
Rudy: "Olé! Olé! Olé! Olé!"
Teammates: "Rudy! This isn't a bullfight!"
Rudy: "Olé! Olé! Olé!"
Personally I don't mind ball-denial. If Rudy were the starting 2 on this team by talent-default his shots and scoring would be in the low Brandon range (17-20 per game) When he has Juwan Howard backing him up, instead of Przy or Oden, or Camby, there are going to be problems.