Definition of a "RIM PROTECTOR" ?

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Post by swish on Mon May 25, 2015 11:52 am

There are numbers available to help me to determine which players could be considered to be a top notch scorer or rebounder or assist player or high percentage shooter. I can also reference the all-league defensive team as a guide to the leagues best defensive players. Now we seem to have a new kid on the block -- Rim protector. And just what are the numbers that one uses to rate a player as a rim protector or is it all a matter of opinion? I can use some help on this matter.

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Post by bobc33 on Mon May 25, 2015 3:09 pm

For me the definition of "Rim Protector" is an expression that makes me vomit......

Nothing personal Swish I'm just satiated on that expression.
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Post by swish on Mon May 25, 2015 4:20 pm

bobc

Since I don't have a clear picture of a rim protector the term you use is just fine with me.

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Post by kdp59 on Mon May 25, 2015 6:52 pm

we had a thread about this a few weeks back

http://samcelt.forumotion.net/t8854-what-stats-show-a-good-rim-protector-big-man

I wanted to try to see if there was some group of stats that could be helpful.

I think I ended up feeling that a combination of FG% at the rim and Blocks per 36 min was best for me.

you can see many trials and the stats in that thread. use them, find others, etc.

as some pointed out in the thread, there is a level of "eye test" to meet with any rankings like this.
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Post by Sam on Mon May 25, 2015 10:02 pm

Swish,

Count me as among those who dislike the term "rim protector" because I feel it only implies a relatively small portion of what a dominant defensive center can provide.  I'd probably use the term "dominant defensive center" a lot more if it didn't seem to suggest something between pretention and lack of specificity.  So, for a while, I settled on the term "intimidating center."  Short.  Definitive.  Allows freedom of interpretation on the part of the listener.  Now, I've become sick of that term...or perhaps what I'm really sick of is waiting for the end of a gestation period longer than a dinosaur's.

I recall that Bob Heckler fooled around with a description that had the word "lane" as a central (no pun intended) focus.  Maybe he can tell us how that has worked out for him.

My current thinking is that it really doesn't matter what this guy is called.  What matters is his set of qualities.  There seems to be general agreement that defense should be his strength.  (More on that later.)  So, for the moment, I'm going to call him "Mr. D."  And, aside from lack of relevant stats, what prevents a formularized approach to defining a perfect "Mr. d" is that there is no single combination of ingredients that defines THE perfect Mr. D.

Take any five (just to pick a number) centers who you think are the best defenders.  Or take the five you consider the best of all-time.  Dollars to donuts, each had his own special strengths that contributed to great defense; but no two of the five had the exact same strength to the exact same degree.  And each probably had challenges (especially early in his career) that may have distinguished him from the other four.

If pushed to pick just one attribute that I would consider a "must" for Mr. D, it would probably  be a tie between length and toughness.  Length can be measured in at least two ways (height and wing span).  But toughness? Not so much, although weight could offer a clue). You know when you see toughness, but just try to find one stat to describe it.  Jumping ability can be measured; but do they measure quickness of the jump?  Foot speed can be measured, but how about lateral movement or backward movement?  How about the ability to hedge and recover?  And I haven't even mentioned the much (perhaps too much) heralded shot blocking ability.  Is it really more important than the ability to keep a strong offensive player away from his spot? 

And does defensive ability necessarily ignore offensive ability?  How about if Mr. D is such a major offensive load that his opponent drains most of his energy on defense and doesn't present much competition when Mr. D is on defense?  Could this be considered another way of "playing" defense?

So, when it comes to the plethora of names we see floated as possible Celtics centers of the future, I believe in evaluating the most prominent strengths of each candidate and estimating whether a given package of strengths (some tangible, others intangible).  It seems to me that looking for a predictive statistical formula is an exercise in futility.

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Post by bobheckler on Tue May 26, 2015 11:41 am

sam wrote:Swish,

Count me as among those who dislike the term "rim protector" because I feel it only implies a relatively small portion of what a dominant defensive center can provide.  I'd probably use the term "dominant defensive center" a lot more if it didn't seem to suggest something between pretention and lack of specificity.  So, for a while, I settled on the term "intimidating center."  Short.  Definitive.  Allows freedom of interpretation on the part of the listener.  Now, I've become sick of that term...or perhaps what I'm really sick of is waiting for the end of a gestation period longer than a dinosaur's.

I recall that Bob Heckler fooled around with a description that had the word "lane" as a central (no pun intended) focus.  Maybe he can tell us how that has worked out for him.

My current thinking is that it really doesn't matter what this guy is called.  What matters is his set of qualities.  There seems to be general agreement that defense should be his strength.  (More on that later.)  So, for the moment, I'm going to call him "Mr. D."  And, aside from lack of relevant stats, what prevents a formularized approach to defining a perfect "Mr. d" is that there is no single combination of ingredients that defines THE perfect Mr. D.

Take any five (just to pick a number) centers who you think are the best defenders.  Or take the five you consider the best of all-time.  Dollars to donuts, each had his own special strengths that contributed to great defense; but no two of the five had the exact same strength to the exact same degree.  And each probably had challenges (especially early in his career) that may have distinguished him from the other four.

If pushed to pick just one attribute that I would consider a "must" for Mr. D, it would probably  be a tie between length and toughness.  Length can be measured in at least two ways (height and wing span).  But toughness? Not so much, although weight could offer a clue). You know when you see toughness, but just try to find one stat to describe it.  Jumping ability can be measured; but do they measure quickness of the jump?  Foot speed can be measured, but how about lateral movement or backward movement?  How about the ability to hedge and recover?  And I haven't even mentioned the much (perhaps too much) heralded shot blocking ability.  Is it really more important than the ability to keep a strong offensive player away from his spot? 

And does defensive ability necessarily ignore offensive ability?  How about if Mr. D is such a major offensive load that his opponent drains most of his energy on defense and doesn't present much competition when Mr. D is on defense?  Could this be considered another way of "playing" defense?

So, when it comes to the plethora of names we see floated as possible Celtics centers of the future, I believe in evaluating the most prominent strengths of each candidate and estimating whether a given package of strengths (some tangible, others intangible).  It seems to me that looking for a predictive statistical formula is an exercise in futility.

Sam


Me? fooling around with words?  Sure sounds like me.

Quantity lends itself to statistical analysis.  The more you have of something, the more you can look for a trend or pattern.  The more discrete the unit of quantity can be defined the more you can separate it out from other things or connect them and their effect on other things (or connect other things and their impacts to them).  As a professional statistician I'm sure your explanation would be far more precise and accurate than this one, maybe even completely different, but it's the one that seems to work in my mind.

Perhaps the root of our conundrum is that sometimes it's hard to define or name a quality that is difficult to quantify.  We have a bazillion stats that define offense but not as many to define defense although this new age of advanced stats that may not be as true.  I think it might be a bit slow, as a board conversation, but intellectually enlightening if we had access to these stats like the ones provided by Synergy Sports.  It would help us understand what Brad looks at when he tries to decide how best to use the players on his roster and what Danny looks at when he's trying to figure out which players would best fill a role for us or provide an upgrade for us at a position.

I've read all the posts and threads about "rim protection" and "defensive intimidator".  I think people are getting tired of these phrases because they are incomplete monikers and frustrate people because of what they don't cover.  My own definition of this is an evolutionary path, as is my grudging but not totally happy acceptance that stretch 4s and the 3pt shot are probably here to stay.  As Darwin would have said "Adapt or die".

Setting aside my preference of avoiding mixed sports metaphors for now, the name I'm giving to my latest conception of this role is "dotted line linebacker".  Like a linebacker in football, this player's job would be to pick up everybody who comes into his zone regardless of whether he has the ball or not when he comes through it, and his zone is all the area inside the dotted line.  Like a linebacker, his job is to call out the defensive play, point out switches and plays as they develop.  They plug holes, as they develop, and don't just focus on their man.  

In today's wide open game, where you have bigs setting "spread pnrs" out 30' away from the rim, and are popping off those screens to take 3pt shots (ugh!), you need a linebacker with mobility.  Centers that are big but not mobile, including some of the truly great centers in NBA history like Wilt and the oft overlooked Human Bludgeon, Moses Malone, might struggle in today's NBA.  Offensively, sure, they were monsters, but defensively they lacked the prerequisite speed to advance and retreat and cover their now-larger defensive zone.  Before the 3pt shot, there was no incentive to take the longer, less reliable deep shot. It made more sense to get closer but that also made it easier for the interior defenders, since the offense was coming to them. Offensively, these guys'd get their offensive rebounds and down-low shots (especially Moses) but the speed with which today's 4s swoop down to help the interior defenders is faster than fast now.

This is why I've been so fixated on length and wingspan, rather than bulk and weight.  I love bruising players.  I was one of Sully's #1 fans when he was pounding his opponents into paste down low (and not so much when he became 3-happy).  While I have been going back-and-forth a bit with Cowens (in a good-naturedly way) I'm actually not so far away from him in terms of what kind of players I like my bigs to be.  I'm just, in my opinion, more willing to adapt and accept that what I like isn't necessarily what works in today's NBA anymore.  My appreciation of Porzingis isn't because he's a beast, it's because he's offensively adept and very mobile and very long and that would bring us a quality we missed last year.  In general we did a good job of moving our feet on defense and rotating.  In general we did a good job of sealing players on the baseline or along the baseline with a double team.  Where we couldn't seal the deal was with our lack of length.  We didn't have that "long drink of water" that could come in over the top and prevent the player from just going up and over our double-teams and baseline seals.  We stopped them 2-dimensionally, we didn't stop them 3-dimensionally and basketball is a 3-dimensional game.

Roy Hibbert is huge.  He is also relatively immobile and ineffective against motion half court and/or full court running offenses.  Pekovic is a beast and a half, but is immobile and limited on defense.  Mozgov is good in the half court, but isn't mobile enough for full court transition defense.  A defender isn't much use if he isn't mobile enough to be in position to play defense and today's NBA is more mobile and less "pound them inside" as the NBA of the 1980s.  Adapt or die.

"Dotted line linebacker".  I'm going to stick with that, at least until I see evidence I need to change it.


bob


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Post by Sam on Tue May 26, 2015 2:53 pm

In the case of Roy Hibbert (and Cousins too), a more apt phrase might be "dotty linebacker."

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Post by hawksnestbeach on Tue May 26, 2015 5:30 pm

Swish, As an old fart who decries most new expressions, especially if they're trendy, I can't stand "rim protector" or "score the basketball" or anything else that's come along since #6 hung up his jock strap. But what this team, like most other teams, IMO, needs at center is a great defensive player: quick, tall, smart, strong-enough, team-oriented, predatory, and unalterably opposed to losing. I think of Russell as the prototype and the closer the new prospect comes to that prototype, the better off we'll be. Cheers! Hawk

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Post by Sloopjohnb on Tue May 26, 2015 8:45 pm

You hit it Hawk.  I also can't stand the bloated, pretentious jargon that has invaded basketball terminology.

"Score the ball"?  What's wrong with "score"?  What's next? "He's a really great ball scorer“?

One term that never caught on but is descriptive of what we're trying to get at on this thread is Dave Cowens describing the center as the "quarterback of the defense."

I guess Cowens meant that the center is often  closest to the basket on defense he  can see the entire offense of the opponent while perimeter defenders cannot so easily see what is going on behind them.  So it is one of the center's primary responsibilities to direct the team defense like the quarterback in football directs the offense or the point guard in basketball initiates the offense (I guess Cowens didn't say the "pointguard of the defense" because that term wasn't in use early in Cowens' career).

Cowens was not a great shotblocker--something that "rim protector" conjures up--but he certainly was one of the great defenders of his era not only as an individual defender but also as the anchor of the team defense.

When I read Bob's description of a big who can defend in today's NBA I thought of Dave Cowens.  He could bang with the brutes in the paint but also smother perimeter players from guards--who can forget him poking the ball away from Oscar Robertson in the 1974 finals--to  guys like Bob McAdoo, a stretch four before that term came into vogue.


Last edited by Sloopjohnb on Tue May 26, 2015 8:50 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Sam on Tue May 26, 2015 8:48 pm

Hawk,

I completely agree with you.  But it's interesting to conjecture as to what the reaction would be if a college player with exactly the qualities of Russ (but without years of the Russell reputation behind him) came along now.  Too thin?  Too short?  Lacks requisite toughness?  No offense?  Can't stretch the floor?  What if the other teams played "Hack-a-Russ?"

Then, of course, I'd hope the Celtics would draft the "new Russell" and proceed to beat the living snot out of everyone.  Because the combination of his attributes would be totally relevant today.

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