The Trail Blazers’ defense has produced the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA through 16 games. Underneath those team-wide struggles, their is a short-list of individual culprits on Portland’s injury-depleted roster. With that in mind, Enes Kanter and Anfernee Simons appeared inside Bleacher Report’s recent look at the worst defenders in the NBA.
The list compiled by Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey blended several defensive statistics (FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR rating, defesnive box plus/minus and defensive field-goal percentage). After explaining why rookies were excluded from the list, Kanter took center stage.
Bailey made it a point to highlight Kanter’s stellar offensive contributions, but the big fella’s suspect pick-and-roll defense earned the spotlight’s attention.
Reasons for the lack of a positive impact on defense are varied. For one, he’s not the most fleet-footed big, and teams are quick to throw him into pick-and-roll coverage for that reason. When he tries to fight over the screen or hedges, guards are generally able to dribble right around him. Effective drop coverage would require elite perimeter defenders, which Kanter can’t control, but opposing bigs often lose him there too.
Some centers find themselves out of position but still have the athleticism to quickly close gaps and contest shots. That’s typically not the case with Kanter.
For Simons, Bailey explained that the third-year guard can still reach his full potential. Until then, Simons’ off-ball defense remains concerning.
The optimism on his potential may still prove warranted. Simons is still a few months shy of his 22nd birthday. But that quickness and length has yet to be focused into positive defensive contributions.
Like Bagley, he often gets lost or caught napping off the ball. He struggles to stay in front of assignments on the perimeter, and when he does, many can just rise up and shoot over the top of him.
You can read the full list of Bailey’s poor defenders at Bleacher Report.