Clippers

Will the Clippers Have the Best Defense This Season?

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The NBA today is dominated by offense. Every team is averaging more than 100 points/game and offensive efficiency is at an all-time high of 110.4. The Clippers have an opportunity to make some noise defensively this year because of the addition of five-time all-defensive player, Kawhi Leonard and four-time all defensive player, Paul George.

What qualifies as a good NBA defense? Having a good defense is simply holding the opposing team to the least amount of points you can at a consistent basis. Teams do this by getting steals, blocks, rebounds, and other statistics that hold the opposing team to minimal points. This will contribute to the teams defensive rating (DRtg) during a season. DRtg is the amount of points a team gives up per 100 possessions. A team that has a DRtg of 100 is an average defense. That means they allowed 100 points per 100 possessions. Teams with DRtg lower than 100 are considered to have a good defense compared to teams above a 100 DRtg. In the case of the DRtg, the lower the statistic, the better the defense.

To show how good a defense is during a specific year, look at adjusted defensive rating (DRtng+). DRtng+ take into account the league average DRtg in a specific year and a team’s DRtg. To find out a DRtng+, take the league average defensive rating in the specific year and divide it by a team’s defensive rating, then multiply the result by 100. A team with a 100 DRtng+ is an average defense for the year. If a team has a 105 DRtng+, then they allowed five percent fewer points per 100 possessions than league average.  If a team has a 95 DRtng+, then they allowed five percent more points than league average. In contrast with the DRtg, the higher the DRtng+, the better the defense.

The Clippers finished the regular season with a 110.4 DRtg which was 19th in the NBA. They also finished with a .99 DRtng+, which is just below average. The Clippers can be a defensive threat next season with the new perimeter defense of Leonard, George, and Patrick Beverley.

Leonard and George are well-known for their offensive presence. Leonard is coming off a 26.6 points/game season and George is returning from a 28.0 points/game season. These all stars can also play on the other side of the court. Leonard and George finished top 10 in steals/game with Leonard having 1.8 and George’s league leading 2.2. Leonard’s 1.8 and George’s 2.2 contributed to more than 30% of their teams steals last season. Leonard finished last season with a defensive rating with a 107.7 which is the worst of his career. George finished his season with a 103.9 defensive rating. Leonard helped lead his team to fifth in the league in defense and George helped lead his team to a fourth place finish. With the help of the defensive minded Beverly, the trio of defenders for the Clippers can make something of themselves on defense.

Although Beverley’s 108.7 DRtg isn’t that impressive, the league knows that he is one of the most aggressive defenders in the game. Sometimes that aggressive nature can get him in trouble and lead to fouls. This caused him to average 3.4 fouls a game and sometimes foul out. The whole league saw this nature when him and Kevin Durant were getting chippy during the finals last year. Putting pressure on people everywhere on the court is something he does not just in the playoffs, but all season long. Beverley has that confident, aggressive attitude that he will win every defensive battle no matter who is in front of him. These defensive emotions can catch on with Leonard, George, and the rest of the team and spark a defensive match that will be hard to put out by offenses.

Perimeter defense is at a high demand in today’s league. This past season saw new NBA records of three-point attempts per game (32) and three-point makes per game (11.4). With Beverley, Leonard, and George guarding the perimeter, the goal is to minimize three-point shooting. The trio can do so by applying pressure to the ball and players without the ball. Pressure makes players uncomfortable and that can lead to bad shots or turnovers. The more uncomfortable a player is, the less likely they are to shoot or even make a shot. By having three defensive weapons on your team, there will likely always be one of them on the court. Whether it’s Beverley, Leonard, or George, the best player on the court will be guarded by one of them. The way these guys play defense is threatening to any shooter in the league.

It seems that defense isn’t played that much in the NBA these days. With the high scoring games and the amount of shots put up a game is increasing each year. The Clippers have a chance to bring some defense back into the NBA. Signing Leonard and George brings plays on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The all-stars joining other defensive-minded players on the team will excel the team to the next level. Having the best defense in the league can be the component that pushes the Clippers to achieving their first ever NBA championship.

Stats taken from stats.nba.com and basketball-reference.com. Follow us on Twitter @TLSportsMedia for the latest NBA news and insight.

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About Jordan Taylor

Los Angeles Clippers Writer. Email: jtfsu@outlook.com | Twitter: @jtfsu98

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