Wallace Watch: Big Ben vs the CavaliersBy William Cade
NBA Basketball is a beautiful game of offense and defense in which players from each side perform to their skill set in hopes that they collectively outperform the other. Simply put: “NBA Basketball, it’s fantastic!” Logically and bi-conditionally, better defense wins games due to subsequent lack of offense. And as a result, a player of Ben Wallace’s caliber significantly can be associated with winning games, as the aforementioned Detroit Pistons well know.
Let not forget! Ben Wallace is a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006)…five-time NBA first team all defense (2002-2006)…three-time All-NBA Second Team member (2003, 2004, 2006)…two-time All-NBA Third Team honoree (2002, 2005)…four-time NBA All-Star (2003-2006)…His presence simply speaks for itself.
And now I clearly see why the cerebral Scott Skiles and the Chicago Bulls are poised to make some serious noise as the underrated giant killers in this year’s anxiously awaiting Eastern Conference Playoffs. I came to this Naismith-type premonition by eagerly, yet with a peculiar eye, watching Ben Wallace’s Chicago Bulls take on LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers (2/22/07). And boy, what a beauty. Especially, if you know what to look for.
Now remember, defense wins games. And games wins championships…and so forth and so on…So with that in mind, let’s universally take a look at a how Mr. Wallace’s performance on defense assisted in the destruction of the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers.
In this particular game, the Chicago Bulls were estimated to partake in slightly over 90 ‘set’ defensive possessions, which may include defensive possessions within a possession. These particular possessions are inclusive of possessions in which defense is played more than once as result of a stoppage in play (i.e. foul committed), or simply just more than one attempt at a field goal (i.e. defense played again as result of offensive rebound or block shot). Consider the origin of a ‘set’ defensive possession to be one in which the proposed team of interest (in this case, the Chicago Bulls) has exercised either a turnover (TO), field goal made (FGM), attempted field goal (FGA), or offensive foul while playing offense. With that in mind, the following tables provide information regarding the outcome of the Bulls’ team defense after their own made field goals (Table A), as well as the outcome of Ben Wallace’s defense (Table B), while playing role of primary and/or help defender
Table A: Bulls' Defense after their own Made Field Goals
Table B: Ben Wallace defensive plays
Feasibly, aside from a stoppage in play (i.e. foul committed, timeout called, etc…), it can be agreed, among other fundamentals, that any team’s focus should include the imperative responsibility of setting its defense after a made field goal. In Table A, comparable to the 68% of subsequent defensive possessions that result in a missed field goal or turnover, it is clear that, of the 34 total FGM by the Bulls, only 26% result in a score by the Cavs. Furthermore, of the 29 approximated possessions in which Ben Wallace was either the primary and/or help defender, the opposing Cavs were unceremoniously found to have 28% (FGM) success compared to 69% failure (Missed FGA and TO).
Interestingly enough, these results do not and cannot include the intangibles. As a defensive game changer, Ben Wallace’s absolute productivity cannot be measured by his accumulated stats alone. However, a more just evaluation can be implemented by analyzing the productivity of the opposing team’s offense. Here’s a look at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ stat-line for players that played at least 15 minutes or more:
By game’s end, Ben Wallace’s stat line read as follows:
According to Tables C and D, it is defensively apparent that in addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers shooting a low total field goal percentage (39%), Ben Wallace contributes to his own productivity by gathering just as many defensive rebounds (10) as the Chicago Bulls offensive rebounds (12) do, collectively. Furthermore, his 7:1 (BLK: PF) ratio not only suggests that he efficiently (without fouling) controls the paint, but also can be the implicit factor to a FG percentage of less than 50% among Cavalier starters, individually (excluding Snow and Marshall). Prime example: Anderson Varejao. The specific assignment of Anderson Varejao was just another day at the office for ‘Big’ Ben Wallace. Within just the first 10 ‘set’ defensive possessions, Ben Wallace had already forced Anderson Varejao into a turnover, block shot, and a steal. From that point on, it was downhill from there for Varejao (look at Table C). From a team standpoint, it was the beginning to an end for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Attribute that to Big Ben, among other things, defensively.
"Another Day at the Office"JB = Jump Ball
BW = Ben Wallace
MFG = Missed FG
HD = Help Defense
PC = Possession Continued
QPOT = Quick Points off Turnover
SA = Significantly Active
You see, Ben Wallace‘s true value is incapable of being perceived by a sense of basic descriptive basketball statistics. But when you look at the offensive performance of his team opponent(s), one is revealed the ‘tell- tell’ signs to the reasoning behind the success of the Chicago Bulls, defensively. In essence, Ben Wallace brings an unmatched defensive element to his team that, in turn, willfully helps wins games…and games win championships…and so forth and so on…let not forget! Ben Wallace is a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006)…five-time NBA first all defense (2002-2006)…I know I won’t!
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