San Antonio Spurs defense: historically good
It’s widely known that traditionally, San Antonio Spurs players over the years have been good defensive players. But how good are they really?
We’re talking greatest-of-all-time good.
Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference.com posted a list of the top 100 players based on their team defenses. Confused? Here’s Neil’s criteria:
1. Estimate defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) for every team since 1951 in the regular-season and playoffs.
2. Adjust playoff defensive ratings up/down based on regular-season offensive strength of postseason foes.
3. Compare defensive efficiencies to the league average (to account for the fact that the avg. was, for instance, 85 pts/100 poss in 1951 and 108 in 2010)
4. Find career averages (weighted by MP with each team) for every player since the NBA started tracking minutes in 1952.
After crunching the numbers, four San Antonio Spurs land in the top 10 on the list, and eight are in the top 20. The top Spur was Manu Ginobili, who was number six on the list with a team defense rating of -5.72 (which is good). Topping the list overall was K.C. Jones with a team defense rating of -6.74.
The other Spurs in the top 10 were Tim Duncan at number seven (-5.60), Tony Parker at number eight (-5.48) and Bruce Bowen at 10 (-4.96).
Following the list, Neil has this paragraph that should warm the hearts of many Spurs fans through the winter:
On Friday, we saw that being a part of the Steve Nash-era Suns or the Showtime Lakers of the 80s went a long way toward securing a place on the “played for the best offenses” list… Well, today it becomes clear that playing for the Bill Russell/Red Auerbach Celtics and the Tim Duncan/Gregg Popovich Spurs is the key to appearing on the “best defenses” ranking. Each of the top 5 players on this list were a part of the Celtics’ first dynasty, and 5 of the next 6 players on the list belonged to the Spurs of recent vintage (the one who didn’t? Frank Ramsey … of the 50s/60s Celts).
And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s this. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal don’t appear on the list until numbers 83 (-2.39) and 94 (-2.22), respectively.