OK, let me preface this by the fact that my opinion is that our D is what will keep up from making a deep run and that our D has been getting worse over the last month (and the stats bear this out as well). So when thinking about our D, poor D is related to 1 of 3 things (or a combination), personnel, Scheme or effort.
In terms of personnel, I have a hard time believing that our starting 5 cant be at least slightly above average defensively, and given the number of minutes they play, that should translate to team results. Further, our weakest link, Dame, aint going anywhere, so I will leave this factor alone.
In terms of scheme, Stotts has never had great defensive teams, so while his scheme may be part of it, Stotts has performed admirably and given the teams performance, we are left with this scheme and so I wont discuss further. (Also, I am not qualified to say what scheme is best for our personnel)
For effort (or energy) I think this is an issue. We often play better D when our backs are against the wall, suggesting we have the personnel and even a decent scheme. So why cant we do this a whole 48? I would suggest that the problem is bench scoring. Currently 4/5 starters are top 25 in NBA in total minutes. In addition, our starters still make up the majority of the points (78%), majority of shots (75%). We have only had 5 games this year with 2 bench guys in double figures (Boston was 1). Finally, we are 14-1 when Mo scores in double figures. Thus, for a team focused on the offensive end (see Dave's post this morning), the more scoring we get off the bench, the fewer shots and potentially minutes will need to come from our starters, and hence, more rest. The more rest=more energy for the defensive end of the court. Barring a major trade, I see CJ as the main weapon to add near double digit scoring to the bench in addition to MO (if we trade Mo, we need to get as good a scorer back in return).
Thus my conclusion, as strange as it seems, our ability to make a deep run, may rest on the quick development of a rookie from a small college. Thoughts?