Block Party, Anyone?

3 02 2008

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During my beloved Chicago Bulls’ loss tonight to the Sacramento Kings, Ron Artest made a very athletic block on Andres Nocioni. Artest never struck me as a high-flyer. In fact, I think that if he can stay out of trouble, he has at least another decade of great play left in him. Players that are more ground-bound tend to last longer and that’s a good thing for Ron-Ron.

Ron Artest doesn’t really jump all too often. He doesn’t really need to because, like a lot of great perimeter defenders, his game is a lot more about grit and positioning.

This leads me to wonder exactly how many blocks a game this man gets. According to the Basketball-Reference website, Artest’s career average is 0.7 blocks per game. His high average is 0.9 blocks which he has achieved twice after nearly a decade in the NBA. Blocks are an important aspect of defensive play, right?

I tried out for my high school’s basketball team during my freshman year. It was a heinous affair but I remember a few moments very distinctly. One day, I was in a one-on-one drill with this guy named Tim (a good guy). I had the ball and was trying to back him down and when I went up for the shot, he stuffed me nasty. I’m talkin’ real nasty.

One of the coaches blew the whistle and I thought that I was about to get an earful. Instead of harping on me, the old man started yelling at Tim for leaving his feet. It was the complete reverse reaction to what any normal person watching would expect. The coach then went on a tirade about how defense was played with your feet; you never leave your feet, he would stammer. I didn’t believe him.

Extemporaneously, I thought Ron Artest would have at least have 1.5 blocks a game. The man doesn’t even average a block a game? No way! So, what about the other great perimeter defenders in the modern game?

Bruce Bowen is a staple name when discussing perimeter defenders nowadays. What did he average? He’s got 0.4 for his career. His block numbers a pretty stable except for a high of 0.6 which he achieved only once.

How about Gary Payton? The Glove definitely should have sent his fair share back, right? Career average of 0.2 blocks per game.

Doug Christie and Dan Majerle were the Bruce Bowen’s of the 1990’s. 0.5 and 0.4, respectively.

Joe Dumars was the only man that Michael Jordan dreaded playing against. Could it have been because MJ was afraid to get stuffed? Dumars owns career blocks average of 0.1. I guess the answer is an unequivocal “no.”

Jason Kidd? Mookie Blaylock? Only 0.3 blocks for both. And are you ready for this? Tayshaun Prince, the versatile Detroit defender most famous for his Reggie Miller block owns a 0.6 block average.

The only guys worth noting within Ron Artest’s area code are Scottie Pippen and Jordan. They both were at 0.8 for their career.

Surprising? It really shouldn’t be because you don’t want to take an NBA player one-on-one. More often than not, their offensive skills alone got them into the league. Guys like Artest pressure the perimeter and funnel the ball down to the paint. Once there, your teammate has your back and it’s much easier to pressure the ball or force a bad shot.

Leave the blocks to the bigs, kids. Next time you want organize a block party, be careful what you wish for.

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12 09 2008
Tyson Chandler (07-08 Synopsis) « Feet in the Paint

[...] should be noted that although Tyson is known as a shot-blocker, he only returns 1.1 shots a game.  Low shot-blocking numbers doesn’t discredit his defense as I one of my first-ever posts explains.  Tyson didn’t block the shots but he certainly [...]

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