I believe there is a strong link statistically between a team's difference in FG% and FG% allowed and a team's performance on the court. I'm not analyst or statistician so I'm sure there are holes in this oversimplified approach...but still...I think there some easy takeaways if you look at the numbers. For instance -
OK City leads the league in the difference between FG%(47.7) and FG% allowed (42.6) at 5.1% difference. The second best team differential is the Miami Heat at a difference of 4.6%. I think you could make an argument that these are the two best teams in the league so far this year. Where is Portland? 23rd at -1%
The stats show that Portland is an average shooting team while once again they are poor defensively, dwelling well into the bottom tier in the league in FG% allowed. My takeaways,...
1) Defense - As fans, we focus a lot on offense capabilities, but winners in this league are typically built around very good defenses. Last decade we saw the Pistons, Spurs, and Celtics do well with very strong defensive performances. Last year, Miami tied with Boston and Chicago for lowest FG% allowed and tied with Boston for differential.
Question: How far does Portland have to go to become a top tier defensive club? Defensive is a combination of coaching strategy, player talent/experience, and player intensity/commitment to competing on the defensive end. I I have yet to see any consistent effort by the Blazers to commit to the defensive end in the past five years. The occasional spark like we saw in the second half against the Lakers at home earlier this year or in the playoffs against the Mavs when Roy took over the game is a awfully rare occurence. Our strategy around passively defending the pick and roll usually results in a mismatch or an open drive to the hole. We do a poor job of keepign times from attacking the middle. This also needs to change.
2 ) Reload - Will the players we get in the off-season to compliment the two players we most likely will build around commit to playing defense?I personally give average marks to Aldridge and Batum for their individual efforts on the defensive end. They have the physical ability to match up well - I just never see even 1/10 the intensity of a Garnett in Aldridge and with Batum, I don't see the toughness or tenacity of an elite defender like LeBron. If Aldridge is sticking around at the four and Batum at the three, we'll need an athletic, intense, tough defender in the middle to compliment the softer components around him. Centers like Kendrick Perkins are tough to find. And then we'll need some perimeter defenders as well. I have a hard time imagine the Blazers reloading into a team that can compete at a high level defensively.
3) Rebuild - Do you think Aldridge and Batum have the intensity and will to compete at a high level of consistency at the defensive end? To me, the stats seem to indicate that if we are going to keep Aldridge and Batum, we need at least two impact players to lift this team out of defensive mediocrity. We need players who have the contagious defensive intensity that can spread to their teammates. Our defense has been so poor as of late, it's hard to imagine this happening without completely rebuilding and starting from scratch. I just don't see the Blazers ever becoming a top tier defensive team reloading around Aldridge and Batum. Time to rebuild.
I'm throwing a lot out there....thoughts?