Who’s the best Nets player on offense? What about defense?
While that’s an impossible question to answer definitively, here’s one way to look at it, with two charts outlining how different Nets rotation players have impacted the team:
Here’s how it works. With Alan Anderson on the court, the Nets allow 98 points per 100 possessions, a stout defensive number. With him off the court, they allow 107.5, which would rank as one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Subtract 98 from 107.5 and you get Anderson’s +9.5 defensive impact. Both charts are set up so that positive is good.
The charts are interactive, so you can scroll over a player’s bar to see how good or bad he’s been.
Five quick takeaways:
1) This is a starting point, not an end to the discussion. We’re only two months into the season, so there’s bound to be a lot of noise in the signals. Some guys will have their numbers tagged by extra minutes in blowouts, and these numbers can swing wildly in the span of a few rough minutes. For example: the Nets have allowed more three-pointers with Jerome Jordan on the floor (9.3 per 36 minutes) than any other rotation player, which is part of why his defensive numbers look bad. While you could argue that his interior presence has a butterfly effect on the entire team, it’s also probably just random.
Also remember that these are compared to the team average, not the league average, and that they’re reflective, not entirely predictive; at this point last season the Nets were 10-20 and looked legitimately like one of the worst teams in the NBA. The next four months still need to unfold.
2) With all those caveats in place, there’s a decent argument to be made that Alan Anderson is the team’s best wing defender even without those numbers. Even with his struggles on the offensive end — I’m sure you can picture Anderson pump-faking a three and settling for a midrange jumper on command — he’s an intelligent worker on the defensive end that’s willing to do the dirty work to stay in front of wing scorers. Opponents as a whole shoot under 33 percent from deep with Anderson in the game, the best mark among Nets rotation players, and that’s probably not an accident. I have no idea what Mirza Teletovic is doing up there, though.
3) Along with Anderson, it’s probably no accident that Joe Johnson ranks far and ahead as the team’s most important offensive player. With the other two remnants of Brooklyn’s “Big 3” battling injuries all season, Johnson’s been a steady force, even after cooling off from his hot start to the year. You can even see a trend falling behind him: the guys who play the majority of their minutes with Joe Johnson rank near the top, and the bench falls on the other end of the spectrum.
4) Jarrett Jack’s offensive numbers are for the whole season: he’s been good on both ends in the last four games as a starter, and awful with the bench and with Deron Williams in the game. This puts the Nets in a rough position: Jack is better at leading a unit of talented offensive players than the team’s struggling bench unit, and the two-point guard unit has failed. So when Jack inevitably falls back to earth (he can’t shoot 78 percent from the short midrange area forever), does Lionel Hollins put him back in a role he’s struggled to fill?
5) Brook Lopez is right around average in both categories, which is both kind of refreshing and incredibly sad, and the fact that none of the Nets big men rank highly on the defensive side (outside of Kevin Garnett) is telling about the team’s lack of interior defense.