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DPOY Decision ’10: The Halfway Mark

Posted by Neil Paine on February 1, 2010

A little over halfway into the 2010 season, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at the leading candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year Award this year, using the various metrics we like to look at when judging a player's impact on defense. First up, defensive rating:

Player Team G MP DRtg
Dwight Howard ORL 48 1687 95.1
Gerald Wallace CHA 45 1894 98.1
Rasheed Wallace BOS 42 1005 98.3
Lamar Odom LAL 48 1490 98.6
Kendrick Perkins BOS 45 1306 98.8
Marcus Camby LAC 46 1433 99.2
Kevin Garnett BOS 34 1049 99.5
Joakim Noah CHI 44 1450 99.6
Andrew Bogut MIL 39 1282 99.9
Anderson Varejao CLE 47 1404 100.1
Josh Smith ATL 46 1550 100.4
Pau Gasol LAL 31 1132 100.5
LeBron James CLE 49 1889 100.6
Carlos Boozer UTA 45 1576 100.7
Shaquille O'Neal CLE 43 998 100.8
Andrew Bynum LAL 46 1467 100.8
Rajon Rondo BOS 44 1622 100.9
Tim Duncan SAS 43 1402 101.2
Thabo Sefolosha OKC 47 1406 101.4
Chris Andersen DEN 45 1009 101.6

(Note: The minimum requirement for all of the rate stats is 960 minutes.)

Defending DPOY Dwight Howard dominates this list, posting a defensive rating 3 full pts/100 poss. better than #2, Gerald Wallace. The Magic have the 5th-best defense in the league in 2010 (last year, they were #1), and Howard shows up very strong in 2 of the 3 individual categories that make up DRtg:

Player Team G MP DRb%
Marcus Camby LAC 46 1433 33.2
Dwight Howard ORL 48 1687 30.8
Samuel Dalembert PHI 47 1220 30.2
Carlos Boozer UTA 45 1576 29.3
Troy Murphy IND 38 1180 28.0
David Lee NYK 47 1736 27.9
Joakim Noah CHI 44 1450 27.3
Andrew Bogut MIL 39 1282 26.6
Lamar Odom LAL 48 1490 26.5
Tim Duncan SAS 43 1402 26.4
Chris Bosh TOR 48 1725 26.4
Gerald Wallace CHA 45 1894 25.7
Luis Scola HOU 47 1451 25.7
Kendrick Perkins BOS 45 1306 25.5
Al Jefferson MIN 47 1580 24.8
Shaquille O'Neal CLE 43 998 24.5
Emeka Okafor NOH 47 1431 24.4
Al Horford ATL 46 1579 23.8
Kevin Garnett BOS 34 1049 23.4
Ben Wallace DET 46 1383 22.9
Player Team G MP Blk%
Samuel Dalembert PHI 47 1220 6.6
Chris Andersen DEN 45 1009 6.1
Dwight Howard ORL 48 1687 5.7
Kendrick Perkins BOS 45 1306 5.3
Andrew Bogut MIL 39 1282 5.2
Roy Hibbert IND 48 1137 5.2
Josh Smith ATL 46 1550 5.0
Brendan Haywood WAS 45 1501 4.7
Marcus Camby LAC 46 1433 4.6
Emeka Okafor NOH 47 1431 4.3
Brook Lopez NJN 46 1676 4.3
Joakim Noah CHI 44 1450 4.0
Tim Duncan SAS 43 1402 3.9
Andrew Bynum LAL 46 1467 3.7
Jermaine O'Neal MIA 43 1216 3.7
Shaquille O'Neal CLE 43 998 3.6
Marc Gasol MEM 46 1639 3.3
Andrei Kirilenko UTA 40 1159 3.3
Paul Millsap UTA 46 1225 3.2
Andray Blatche WAS 45 992 3.2

The only category in which Howard isn't a stud is Steal%, where Rajon Rondo has outpaced last year's leader, Chris Paul:

Player Team G MP Stl%
Rajon Rondo BOS 44 1622 3.5
Chris Paul NOH 38 1472 3.1
BaRon Davis LAC 47 1608 2.8
Manu Ginobili SAS 41 1099 2.8
Ronnie Brewer UTA 46 1490 2.8
Raymond Felton CHA 46 1508 2.8
Mario Chalmers MIA 46 1135 2.8
Rasheed Wallace BOS 42 1005 2.7
Stephen Curry GSW 46 1583 2.6
Dwyane Wade MIA 47 1710 2.5
Courtney Lee NJN 38 1232 2.5
Monta Ellis GSW 44 1841 2.5
Andre Iguodala PHI 47 1883 2.5
Jason Kidd DAL 46 1660 2.4
Nene Hilario DEN 47 1603 2.4
Stephen Jackson TOT 46 1793 2.4
Trevor Ariza HOU 46 1761 2.3
Josh Smith ATL 46 1550 2.3
James Harden OKC 47 1073 2.3
Louis Williams PHI 35 1095 2.3

All of these stats come together to help us calculate Defensive Stops, or the estimated number of opponent individual possessions directly stopped by a player through steals, blocks, forced misses, defensive rebounds, and forced turnovers:

Player Team G MP Stops
Dwight Howard ORL 48 1687 462.1
Gerald Wallace CHA 45 1894 442.6
LeBron James CLE 49 1889 409.4
Kevin Durant OKC 47 1874 388.0
David Lee NYK 47 1736 382.6
Marcus Camby LAC 46 1433 382.5
Andre Iguodala PHI 47 1883 379.2
Josh Smith ATL 46 1550 372.6
Kobe Bryant LAL 48 1852 371.6
Chris Bosh TOR 48 1725 370.0
Dirk Nowitzki DAL 46 1752 365.1
Nene Hilario DEN 47 1603 365.0
Carlos Boozer UTA 45 1576 361.7
Monta Ellis GSW 44 1841 357.0
Marc Gasol MEM 46 1639 356.3
Trevor Ariza HOU 46 1761 355.4
Stephen Jackson TOT 46 1793 353.0
Al Jefferson MIN 47 1580 351.9
Joakim Noah CHI 44 1450 349.7
Lamar Odom LAL 48 1490 349.3

Here at Basketball-Reference, we like to synthesize all of this information together into one defensive metric called Defensive Win Shares, which takes a player's DRtg and calculates how much impact his individual defense had on his team's defensive rating:

Player Team G MP DWS
Dwight Howard ORL 48 1687 4.2
Gerald Wallace CHA 45 1894 3.9
LeBron James CLE 49 1889 3.4
Lamar Odom LAL 48 1490 3.0
Kevin Durant OKC 47 1874 3.0
Kobe Bryant LAL 48 1852 2.9
Rajon Rondo BOS 44 1622 2.8
Marcus Camby LAC 46 1433 2.8
Josh Smith ATL 46 1550 2.8
Carlos Boozer UTA 45 1576 2.8
Joakim Noah CHI 44 1450 2.8
Kendrick Perkins BOS 45 1306 2.6
Anderson Varejao CLE 47 1404 2.6
Andrew Bynum LAL 46 1467 2.6
Stephen Jackson TOT 46 1793 2.5
Raymond Felton CHA 46 1508 2.4
Dirk Nowitzki DAL 46 1752 2.4
Jeff Green OKC 47 1723 2.4
Tim Duncan SAS 43 1402 2.4
Andrew Bogut MIL 39 1282 2.4

As you can see, there's scarcely a boxscore defensive metric in which Howard doesn't rank 1st... But what about the plus/minus data? Which player is having the biggest on/off-court impact so far this season?

Player Team Min On Off Net
Varejao, Anderson CLE 1404.4 99.28 108.71 -9.43
Kaman, Chris LAC 1494.5 104.85 113.08 -8.22
Williams, Marvin ATL 1342.0 103.44 111.66 -8.22
Artest, Ron LAL 1424.2 99.21 106.65 -7.44
Garnett, Kevin BOS 1015.8 98.12 105.43 -7.31
Bell, Charlie MIL 1132.0 101.09 108.23 -7.14
Andersen, Chris DEN 1009.3 102.20 109.30 -7.09
Nowitzki, Dirk DAL 1752.5 103.84 110.69 -6.85
Kirilenko, Andrei UTA 1158.8 101.48 108.24 -6.76
Sessions, Ramon MIN 1017.1 106.70 112.91 -6.21
Horford, Al ATL 1579.6 104.93 111.02 -6.09
Wallace, Ben DET 1383.4 106.76 112.80 -6.04
Marion, Shawn DAL 1398.3 103.12 109.12 -6.00
Dalembert, Samuel PHI 1200.7 105.85 111.76 -5.90
Jeffries, Jared NYK 1283.7 105.86 111.69 -5.84
Odom, Lamar LAL 1490.1 100.03 105.82 -5.79
Bibby, Mike ATL 1248.8 104.23 109.87 -5.65
Howard, Dwight ORL 1687.6 102.02 107.59 -5.57
Carter, Vince ORL 1234.0 100.97 106.50 -5.53
Bryant, Kobe LAL 1851.7 101.00 106.38 -5.38

Howard is still among the league's elite, ranking 18th, but Anderson Varejao headlines the list; Cleveland plays like the best D in the league while he's on the floor, and they play roughly like the Knicks' defense when he's on the bench. Naturally, not all of Cleveland's great on-court D can be attributed to Sideshow Bob, but since no one else on the Cavs with more than 820 minutes has a positive defensive on/off +/-, it's safe to say that Varejao has been one of the most integral parts of their 4th-ranked D.

Finally, here's another boxscore metric that is based on adjusted plus/minus (similar to SPM)... It comes from an old Dan Rosenbaum post at APBRmetrics, in which he regressed boxscore stats on his pure adjusted offensive and defensive plus minus ratings. Here's what he found for defense:

Model: MODEL2
Dependent Variable: DEF1

Analysis of Variance

Sum of         Mean
Source          DF      Squares       Square      F Value       Prob>F

Model           12 4432015.5876  369334.6323       48.579       0.0001
Error         1081 8218599.2007 7602.7744687
C Total       1093 12650614.788

Root MSE      87.19389     R-square       0.3503
Dep Mean       0.30028     Adj R-sq       0.3431
C.V.       29037.83409

Parameter Estimates

Parameter      Standard    T for H0:
Variable  DF      Estimate         Error   Parameter=0    Prob > |T|

INTERCEP   1     -3.683703    0.66138060        -5.570        0.0001
PTS        1     -0.067574    0.06879300        -0.982        0.3262
TSA        1     -0.105195    0.06760132        -1.556        0.1200
FTA        1      0.179179    0.06810286         2.631        0.0086
TA         1      0.007954    0.04576327         0.174        0.8620
AS         1      0.035210    0.05237392         0.672        0.5015
OR         1     -0.126936    0.10860612        -1.169        0.2428
DR         1      0.393748    0.05988948         6.575        0.0001
TO         1     -0.382290    0.15430545        -2.477        0.0134
ST         1      1.080512    0.16107366         6.708        0.0001
BK         1      1.014717    0.11110280         9.133        0.0001
PF         1      0.309126    0.09203166         3.359        0.0008
MPG        1      0.057194    0.01251181         4.571        0.0001

Where:
PTS = points per 40 minutes
TSA = true shooting attempts per 40 minutes
FTA = free throw attempts per 40 minutes
TA  = three point attempts per 40 minutes
AS  = assists per 40 minutes
OR  = offensive rebounds per 40 minutes
DR  = defensive rebounds per 40 minutes
TO  = turnovers per 40 minutes
ST  = steals per 40 minutes
BK  = blocks per 40 minutes
PF  = personal fouls per 40 minutes
MPG = minutes per game

I used this equation and, similar to how I calculate SPM, I forced the weighted sum of a team's players in this category to equal the league's DRtg minus the team's DRtg. I'm going to call this metric DPA, or defensive points added, to avoid confusion (because it was calculated with an older, separate equation from SPM). Here are the 2010 leaders:

Player Tm G Min DPA
Dwight Howard ORL 48 1687 6.01
Marcus Camby LAC 46 1433 4.94
Chris Andersen DEN 45 1009 4.27
Samuel Dalembert PHI 47 1220 4.26
Gerald Wallace CHA 45 1894 3.86
Josh Smith ATL 46 1550 3.63
Joakim Noah CHI 44 1450 3.55
Anderson Varejao CLE 47 1404 3.38
Kendrick Perkins BOS 45 1306 3.37
Andrew Bogut MIL 39 1282 3.34
Lamar Odom LAL 48 1490 3.19
Ben Wallace DET 46 1383 3.03
Emeka Okafor NOH 47 1431 2.78
Rasheed Wallace BOS 42 1005 2.61
Nene Hilario DEN 47 1603 2.58
Pau Gasol LAL 31 1132 2.40
Brendan Haywood WAS 45 1501 2.38
Chuck Hayes HOU 47 1021 2.37
Thabo Sefolosha OKC 47 1406 2.29
Marc Gasol MEM 46 1639 2.24

Again, Superman flies high above the rest, combining great individual boxscore defensive stats with great team defensive performance. And based on the evidence above, it seems pretty clear that the consensus statistical pick for DPOY is the incumbent. However, all of these metrics measure who should win based on their performance... what about the question of who will win? Well, luckily I also created a model based on past voting results to predict DPOY winners, and it gives these rankings (along with the variables found to be significant -- and yes, FG40 and FGA40 were significant):

Player Team G MP tmDRtg MPG FG/40 FGA/40 Stl/40 Blk/40 p(DPOY)
Dwight Howard ORL 48 1687 103.0 35.1 6.5 10.9 1.3 3.1 0.247
Gerald Wallace CHA 45 1894 102.0 42.1 5.9 12.1 1.5 1.2 0.153
Rajon Rondo BOS 44 1622 101.7 36.9 6.6 12.4 2.6 0.1 0.061
Nene Hilario DEN 47 1603 106.1 34.1 6.2 10.6 1.9 1.1 0.031
Marc Gasol MEM 46 1639 110.0 35.6 6.3 10.5 1.2 1.8 0.029
Josh Smith ATL 46 1550 106.1 33.7 6.9 13.7 1.8 2.6 0.026
Jason Kidd DAL 46 1660 105.5 36.1 3.6 8.4 1.9 0.6 0.016
Pau Gasol LAL 31 1132 102.0 36.5 7.1 13.3 0.5 1.7 0.015
Kendrick Perkins BOS 45 1306 101.7 29.0 6.4 10.2 0.4 2.8 0.014
Marcus Camby LAC 46 1433 107.7 31.2 4.2 9.0 1.7 2.5 0.013
Chris Paul NOH 38 1472 108.3 38.7 7.8 15.4 2.3 0.2 0.011
Brendan Haywood WAS 45 1501 109.4 33.4 4.6 8.3 0.5 2.5 0.010
Al Horford ATL 46 1579 106.1 34.3 6.5 11.5 0.8 1.4 0.008
Joakim Noah CHI 44 1450 104.2 33.0 5.2 10.6 0.8 2.1 0.008
Ronnie Brewer UTA 46 1490 104.2 32.4 5.1 10.0 2.2 0.3 0.008
Ben Wallace DET 46 1383 109.0 30.1 3.0 5.8 1.6 1.5 0.007
LeBron James CLE 49 1889 102.7 38.6 10.4 20.6 1.6 1.1 0.007
Anderson Varejao CLE 47 1404 102.7 29.9 4.4 8.3 1.3 1.3 0.006
Andrew Bynum LAL 46 1467 102.0 31.9 7.9 13.9 0.6 2.0 0.006
Andre Iguodala PHI 47 1883 108.8 40.1 6.0 14.1 1.9 0.6 0.005

Which means the voters are likely to choose D-12 again as well, with Gerald Wallace possessing an outside chance at taking the hardware. And given the stats we saw earlier, they'll definitely get no argument from me if they pick Howard -- the man has simply been dominant this season.

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12 Responses to “DPOY Decision ’10: The Halfway Mark”

  1. Jason J Says:

    Dwight's got to take it again I'd think. I wouldn't be surprised if Bron and Rondo came in second and third of G. Wallace because of reputation and team wins.

  2. P Middy Says:

    What's the advantage to going by 40 minutes instead by game? If you foulzilla like Dwight Howard is, and you can only be out there 35 minutes a game, doesn't seem like you should be rewarded for that. Wallace can be out there for 42 minutes - as a good defender that 7 minutes is very valuable.

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    That's a good point... Here's the regression re-run using per game metrics:

    Player Team G MP tmDRtg MPG FG/G FGA/G Stl/G Blk/G p(DPOY)
    Dwight Howard ORL 48 1687 103.0 35.1 5.7 9.6 1.1 2.7 0.247
    Gerald Wallace CHA 45 1894 102.0 42.1 6.2 12.8 1.6 1.2 0.128
    Rajon Rondo BOS 44 1622 101.7 36.9 6.0 11.5 2.4 0.1 0.057
    Marc Gasol MEM 46 1639 110.0 35.6 5.6 9.4 1.1 1.6 0.032
    Nene Hilario DEN 47 1603 106.1 34.1 5.3 9.1 1.6 1.0 0.031
    Josh Smith ATL 46 1550 106.1 33.7 5.8 11.5 1.5 2.2 0.027
    Jason Kidd DAL 46 1660 105.5 36.1 3.2 7.5 1.7 0.6 0.017
    Pau Gasol LAL 31 1132 102.0 36.5 6.5 12.1 0.5 1.6 0.015
    Marcus Camby LAC 46 1433 107.7 31.2 3.3 7.0 1.3 1.9 0.013
    Kendrick Perkins BOS 45 1306 101.7 29.0 4.6 7.4 0.3 2.0 0.012
    Brendan Haywood WAS 45 1501 109.4 33.4 3.8 6.9 0.4 2.1 0.011
    Chris Paul NOH 38 1472 108.3 38.7 7.5 14.9 2.3 0.2 0.009
    Joakim Noah CHI 44 1450 104.2 33.0 4.3 8.7 0.7 1.8 0.009
    Al Horford ATL 46 1579 106.1 34.3 5.6 9.8 0.7 1.2 0.009
    Ronnie Brewer UTA 46 1490 104.2 32.4 4.1 8.1 1.8 0.3 0.008
    Ben Wallace DET 46 1383 109.0 30.1 2.3 4.3 1.2 1.1 0.007
    Anderson Varejao CLE 47 1404 102.7 29.9 3.3 6.2 1.0 1.0 0.007
    Andrew Bynum LAL 46 1467 102.0 31.9 6.3 11.1 0.5 1.6 0.006
    Andrew Bogut MIL 39 1282 104.2 32.9 6.8 13.1 0.6 2.2 0.005
    Brook Lopez NJN 46 1676 110.1 36.4 6.9 13.9 0.8 2.1 0.005
  4. Patrick Says:

    Looks like a Bobcats fan was just put in their place.

  5. Downpuppy Says:

    Is there a direct measure of how many points the guy they're supposed to guard scores?

    Rondo has been getting torched.

    http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/articles/2010/01/25/opposing_point_guards_present_problem_for_celtics/

  6. P Middy Says:

    Negatory, Patrick. I'm rooting for the Knicks and Bucks this year.

  7. Jared Ras Says:

    Can you run the year that Hakeem Olajuwon torched Dennis Rodman in blocks and rebounds, yet Rodman won the award? That seems a travesty to me; though Rodman's Pistons had the best defense in the league, Hakeem was a better defender by the conventional stats.

    Anyway, with Howard leading the league in blocks and rebounds, it seems that he is a prudent choice until the voters get tired of voting for the same person every year.

  8. Romain Says:

    I wonder how accurate your model on who should win based on past results is.

    I mean, the one you did on the MVP voting (NBA MVP Award Tracker) does not seem well calibrated: Mo Williams, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom in the MVP top 10? Doesn't it seem like you put too much emphasis on team success?

  9. PJ Says:

    Any idea why Rasheed Wallace is so high on DRtg? He's had his moments, but he's looked terrible often -- particularly on help defense. I don't know enough about how DRtg is calculated; would weak help defense not penalize a player?

  10. Irish Says:

    Dwight Howard is underrated. He will become the first player ever to lead the league in rbs and blocks two seasons in a row after the year is done. Go Magic!

  11. Anthony Coleman Says:

    Jared Ras

    "Can you run the year that Hakeem Olajuwon torched Dennis Rodman in blocks and rebounds, yet Rodman won the award? That seems a travesty to me; though Rodman's Pistons had the best defense in the league, Hakeem was a better defender by the conventional stats.

    Anyway, with Howard leading the league in blocks and rebounds, it seems that he is a prudent choice until the voters get tired of voting for the same person every year."

    Actually the Rockets had the best defensive efficiency that year and they beat out the Pistons by .1 percent. However, the Pistons had the lowest points per game allowed (because of their slow pace) and Rodman's perimeter D, even at that time, was becoming legendary. However, Olajuwon's performance was better, in fact it was arguably the best defensive season by any player since the merger. He lead the league in defensive rebounding percentage, was 3rd in the league in block percentage (while leading the league with the fifth highest bpg average ever at 4.59), and added 2.1 STEALS PER GAME, his third consecutive year in a row finishing in the top ten in steals. Sometimes defensive stats lie, but not in the case of The Dream. He was that damn good on defense.

  12. Steve Says:

    What about charges taken? Or is that factored into forced turnovers? A charge taken is much better than a blocked shot. A blocked shot might go out of bounds back to the offensive team or if might get blocked back to a player on the offensive team. A charge taken is both a foul on the offensive player and a guaranteed switch in possession. Andrew Bogut is 2nd in blocks and 4th in charges taken plus he's top 10 in rebounding. That sounds like a solid case to be a bit higher on the list than he currently is.