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Do the Blazers Have Enough Talent to be Good Defensively?

The Athletic’s Seth Partnow stops by to talk about the Trail Blazers’ season thus far.

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Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

On the newest edition of the Blazer’s Edge podcast, Danny Marang sits down to talk with The Athletic’s NBA Analayst (and former Milwaukee Buck’s Director of Basketball Research) Seth Partnow about. The duo discusses how to look at shot quality (and quantify it), why it matters, and what to do with it. They also touch on the ideas and schemes behind Portland’s leaky defense.

Returning to the offensive side of the ball, Marang and Partnow highlighted the concept of Carmelo Anthony as a “sin eater” for the offense, whether or not you should be worried about Robert Covington’s shooting struggles, and should the Blazers be taking a look at the young guys on the roster while there are so many injuries.

NOTE: This was a really great discussion that covered a lot of top-level ideas and how teams fundamentally look at things. If you want to get a better understanding of how things are looked at from inside an organization, listen to this pod and definitely look out for more of Seth’s work.



Seth Partnow!

What is Second Spectrum tracking data? 2:00

Using tracking data and algorithms for shot quality 4:00

Limitations of what’s currently available by manual tracking 6:00

Seth’s introduction to Shot Quality on The Athletic 8:00

Why Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and other stars have “higher shot difficulties” and “lower shot quality” 9:30

Limitations of tracking and how to categorize things for an individual player 11:30

Understanding scoring areas of the floor and how to capitalize on those things 14:00

Are book keepers fudging long three-pointers in the books? 16:30

The Price is Right with midrange shots 18:00

The set up for a midrange shot has gone away with the 3-point revolution 19:00

The idea of moving through space vs occupying space 20:00

Looking through the lens of Carmelo Anthony post ups in shot quality theory? 21:00

“Anthony works as the Sineater for the offense” - Partnow 22:00

Understanding shooting luck/variance 24:00

Why do corner 3’s come open so often? 26:00

“Giving up the corner three is much more about a breakdown somewhere else” - Partnow 28:00

How Portland tries to walk the line of “Four Factors” but falls short 29:00

Why does Portland’s defense breakdown so easily? 31:00

“Failure to guard an initial action (point of attack)” 32:30

“Portland doesn’t have sufficient defensive acumen to be much more than an average defense” 34:00

Looking at Robert Covington and where he fits

Dame and CJ as point of attack defenders

Playing good offense is hard work

Derrick Jones Jr & Covington - disappointment in production 36:00

Are you “worried” about Covington’s shooting? 40:00

“He (Zach Collins) is more - projects to be more of a rim anchor than Nurkic could be” - Partnow 46:00

“If you’re operating at a talent deficit, you don’t win.” 47:00

Why Portland should look to experiment with so many injuries 48:00

Looking at the idea of sunk cost 52:00

Coaches as control freaks and leaning on veterans 55:00

The relationship between coaching, personnel, time on floor and organizational demands 58:00

“lineup card is yours - but you can’t play Pena at 1st base... I traded him” - Moneyball

Closing Comments