As much maligned as the bench is, it was refreshing to watch Claver, Babbit, Freeland, and Smith actually put forth effort to play team defense against the Magic; they maintained somewhat of a simultaneous awareness of both ball and there man. Maybe there not shut down defenders, but at least they inhibited the Orlando Magic from running the lay up drill that the Magic were running on our starters.
I know our bench is still largely unproductive. They don't have the experience in this league to be consistent producers, but at least they work on defense, which is more than I can say for any starter not named Wesley Matthews.
Hickson takes his fair share of the blame for poor defense, and I suppose that's appropriate since he doesn't defend more often than not. But really whose responsible for the whole team's tone of lazy matador defense? It's not Hickson.
If you want to look at tone setters it's Stotts and Aldridge. Stotts is obvious as the coach, and Aldridge is the supposed leader of this team, not to mention a woefully under performing team defender, when you consider his physical capabilities. How many 6'11" guys are there with his athleticism, bulk, and specifically lateral quickness? Not many, if any at all. And how many times every game do you watch opponents shoot lay ups with Aldridge standing and watching from 3 or 4 feet away? It's all game every game. Sometimes he manages to strip an opponent or block a shot, which makes him look like a formidable defender. But when I watch those plays I cringe the same way I cringe watching a 20 percent shot chucker hit a 3. It only encourages him to do it more. If you watch Aldridge on those plays, he more often than not gives up position to go for the strip or block. He will literally give an opponent a lane to the basket to go for the strip or block, and more often than not, it ends in easy baskets. And so goes your star, goes the rest of the team. They all follow suit in being selfish defenders, and unable to comprehend and execute the concept of team defense. Teams that play against know they only have to get by one defender.
Maybe Stotts can't coach team defense. Maybe the Blazer's are unwilling to play hard for him. Maybe the coaching staff feels Aldridge is too sensitive to criticize. Who knows. But Stotts and Aldridge are the two with the power to change the team's defensive woes, and it's clear they aren't doing it.