Milwaukee Bucks “Defense Above Team”

Defense has a team aspect and an individual aspect.  At least that’s my belief.  But how do you separate the two?  How do you assess a player’s defense apart from the defense played by the team he is on?

I’ve given it a shot below.  I took all of next season’s returning veterans for the Milwaukee Bucks and graded their defense last season compared to the defense played at their anticipated position by the rest of their teammates.  The measuring sticks I have used to make my assessment are Counterpart Opponent Win Score, and for those unreconstructed, Counterpart Opponent PER.  All kidding aside, I was surprised how often the two metrics agreed.

What they appear to tell me is that the Bucks new additions, with the exception of Keyon Dooling and Jon Brockman, were not defensive standouts.  Chris Douglas-Roberts was particularly awful.

The first parenthetical number is the amount by which the player’s CO had a Win Score “below team”, the second number is the CO’s PER “below team”.  A positive number indicates the player’s defense was better than the rest of his teammates, negative, obviously, means the opposite.

1. Keyon Dooling…..(+3.1)…..(+1.5)
2. John Salmons…..(+2.4)…..(+2.3)
3. Andrew Bogut…..(+1.3)……(+1.5)
4. Jon Brockman…..(+1.2)…..(+0.0)
5. Brandon Jennings…..(+0.8)…..(+0.8)
6. Ersan Ilyasova……(+0.4)…..(+0.5)
7. Carlos Delfino…..(+0.2)…..(+0.0)
8. Luc Moute…..(-0.5)…..(-0.8)
9. Drew Gooden…..(-1.3)…..(-1.6)
10. Corey Maggette…..(-1.8)…..(-1.6)
11. Chris Douglas-Roberts…..(-2.6)…..(-1.5)    

6 Responses to “Milwaukee Bucks “Defense Above Team””

  1. phette23 Says:

    These results strike me as really weird and I think I know why–you’re not accounting for people who guard the opponent’s best player, and it also doesn’t account for help defense. What really confused me was Mbah a Moute getting negative scores; anyone who has watched him knows he’s an incredible, versatile defender, not a net minus on that side of the court. He wouldn’t get any minutes otherwise, because his offense is pretty inchoate. So why the low numbers? Because he’s matched up with high-scoring wingmen who, while they may do worse against MaM than against an average defender, still do better above team. Am I interpreting this right? Also, I’m not sure if “counterpart” means “the guy on the other team playing the same position” or “the guy who this guy is guarding”, which will be different in MaM’s and most defensive stoppers’ cases.
    And then, as far as help defense, this metric is going to lower ratings for Centers and other shot-blockers, whose defense is more about rotating and altering shots than shutting down their counterpart. I hardly think Salmons is as important to the Bucks’ D as Bogut, but that’s not what these numbers say.

    • tywill33 Says:

      Actually, Basketball Prospectus has a defensive metric known as “Dmult” which measures an opponents production against his average production. Their metric came up with basically the same results… Moute’s Dmult was below average. He may be a bit overrated as a defender and underrated in other aspects of the game.

      As for help defense and accounting for that, yeah it doesn’t do that.

      As to your comment about whether Salmons or Bogut is more important, I’m sure you’re right that its Bogut. But its closer than you would think. According to, Bucks opponents were +4.8 more efficient with Bogut off the court and +4.6 more efficient with Salmons off the court.

      • Blake Says:

        Why was he named an honorable mention to their all-defensive team if he’s below average? That’s confusing. Haha.

      • Alex Says:

        that stuff isn’t accurate. just because teams are almost equally efficient with bogut off the court compared to salmons, doesnt mean its that kind of cause-and-effect. you have to take into account that salmons and bogut being off the court are directly related to the lineups in at the time…

      • tywill33 Says:

        You’re preaching to the choir, Alex! I agree with you.

  2. tywill33 Says:

    All of the anecdotal evidence, such as defensive +/- and dmult, suggest Moute was not that impactful on defense, whereas Salmons and Bogut were. I would also note that the Basketball Geek’s “Individual Defensive Efficiency” ratings, which he calculated directly from NBA transcripts, show that Moute was also below average. (However, two seasons ago Moute was above average, whereas Salmons was below average).

    I guess the only true way to find out how he did is to go meticulously through the NBA transcripts from last season and then compare the productivity of the opposite player to that player’s normal productivity.

    That’s for someone else to do, cause I aint.

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