NBA Stats

Jan 31 2014 3:32PM

Welcome Back, DPOY

By Jay Cipoletti

Since reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol returned to the Grizzlies lineup on Jan. 14th, Memphis opponents can be excused for mistaking the Grizz for the Pacers.

As Kirk Goldsberry pointed out in this piece earlier this week, there have been bad defenses, average defenses, good defenses and the Pacers so far this season. The graph illustrates just how dominant Indiana has defended, then Goldsberry goes on to explain how they have turned teams' water off (not by spilling Crude MCHM into their water supply, as happened in my hometown three weeks ago).

In eight games since Gasol's return, Memphis (93.2 Defensive Rating) has defended even better than Pacers (93.9) have on the season. Whereas the Pacers have funneled more opponent shot attempts into the Mid-Range scoring dead zone, Memphis taken away the easiest looks -- Free Throw Rate down to 0.215 from 0.290 while Gasol was out -- and essentially laid their defensive blanket over the entire court.

DEFENSIVE FG%
(% of FGAs)
Restricted AreaIn the PaintMid-RangeCorner 3sAbove the Break 3s
Memphis55.5% (29.5%)38.7% (18.4%)34.5% (25.4%)30.2% (5.3%)31.2% (21.4%)
League Avg.60.2% (32.2%)39.1% (15.0%)39.4% (27.3%)38.4% (6.6%)35.3% (18.8%)

Amazingly, Memphis has held opponent make rates below the League Average from every shooting zone on the floor.

That has been Gasol's impact in comparison with the rest of the League. The disparity between the Grizzlies over the last eight games and their defense prior to his return is even greater.

DEFENSIVE FG%
(% of FGAs)
Restricted AreaIn the PaintMid-RangeCorner 3sAbove the Break 3s
Since Return55.5% (29.5%)38.7% (18.4%)34.5% (25.4%)30.2% (5.3%)31.2% (21.4%)
W/O Gasol61.5% (30.3%)43.5% (15.0%)42.8% (26.6%)33.3% (7.0%)36.8% (21.1%)

Safe to say, the defensive presence of the 7'1" Gasol will be THE key factor as Memphis makes a second half push towards the playoffs.