Don't Cast that MVP Vote

Without reading this defense of Chris Paul's defense from Ryan Schwan of Hornets247. First he takes on some stats showing that Paul's steals make up for slight increase in scoring efficiency by opposing point guards when they play the Hornets. You'll have to go read that part for yourself.

Then Schwan tackles the adjusted plus/minus numbers that I have been discussing:

Defensive rating is an excellent stat at telling you how a team performs defensively when a player is on and off the floor. The problem is what it actually compares is not how good a player is defensively compared to other players in the league, but with players on his own team. The site where this stat is readily available, basketballvalue.com, makes that disclaimer on its homepage.

Normally, that's not really an issue. Starters should be better at defense than their backups, but all season long, that's not been the case with the Hornets. Back in January I created a post about the Hornets reserves this season, evaluating their offense and defense as a whole unit. The verdict was that our reserves couldn't score at all, but were producing incredible numbers on the defensive end -- generating a defensive efficiency of 88.0. (The Celtics lead the NBA with a defensive efficiency of 96.1 right now.) So the Hornets backups are great defenders -- which is pretty obvious when you watch the team. Those stretches during the last part of the 1st and 3rd and early 2nd and 4th are ugly. No one scores.

So the result? The numbers say when Paul leaves the floor the team's defense gets better, and it also says the same for every single Hornets starter except for David West, who just barely improves the defense -- probably because the standard rotation keeps him on the floor with the second unit for longer than anyone else.

According to the Defensive Rating numbers, our best defenders this season are, in order: Marcus Vinicius, Melvin Ely, Rasual Butler, Bobby Jackson, Ryan Bowen, David West, and Jannero Pargo. Everyone else on the team makes the defense worse. In other words, Paul, Stojakovic, Chandler, and Peterson play starters minutes and contribute to a top 5 league defense, but they all suck. Red flag, anyone?

The primary conclusion you should draw from the Defensive Ratings of the Hornets is that the Hornets starters defend the opposing team's starters less well than the Hornets 2nd unit defends the opponent's 2nd unit.

Now, am I claiming Chris Paul is a great defender? No. I would suggest he's about average overall. His size limits him, no doubt, but his speed and hands make up for the difference.