Defending drives

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
Defending drives.
Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Things are not going well for the Brooklyn Nets. They’ve dropped their first five games by an average margin of 14.6 points. They rank 28th in defensive efficiency, giving up an average of 109.7 points per 100 possessions and, as Devin Kharpertian pointed out at the Brooklyn Game yesterday, they’re getting hammered from the three-point line. According to the NBA’s play type statistics, opponents of the Nets are averaging 1.38 points per possession on spot-ups, by far the worst in the league. The difference between them and the 29th-best defense on spot-ups, the Sacramento Kings, is the same as the difference between the Kings and the seventh-best Charlotte Hornets.

The issue not just about defending the three-point line, it’s about how their defense is drawn away from the three-point line. Using daily updated versions of the drives data from, I was able to construct defensive statistics for how each team has been defending the drive thus far this season.

The Nets have allowed the highest field goal percentage in the league on drives so far this season. They rank in the middle of the pack in points allowed per drive because those numbers only include points scored by the player who drive the ball. Fourty-four percent of the drives against the Nets defense have resulted in a pass, the highest percentage in the league. Which is where all those beautifully wide-open spot-up jumpshots are coming from. Adding insult to injury, Brooklyn has forced turnovers on a league-low three percent of the drives they’ve defended which means the vast majority of the drives they defend are resulting in a shot at the rim, a spot-up jumper or a shooting foul.

The only real bright spot here is that the Nets are in the middle of the pack in terms of drives allowed per game. That’s a narrow ledge to be hanging on to though, because ball-handlers have been pretty much having their way with Brooklyn’s defense anytime they get into the lane.