"We're not known for our defense, but Ben [Wallace] and I have been playing terrific defense. We can score, but it's the other end that's going to put us in a good situation."
Charlie V putting his name in the same sentence as Ben Wallace in terms of his defense thus far definitely raised an eyebrow for me. I think Ben Wallace is usually in a class of his own, but definitely shouldn't be lumped together with who many were calling one of the worst defensive players in the NBA, right?
Before all these fancy stats, which I'll get to, became readily available, defense was judged by the naked eye. I've watched every game this season and while Charlie Villanueva's supposedly suspect defense hasn't been blindingly obvious, Ben Wallace's extraordinary defense has.
Win shares based on defense (DWS -- how many wins a player gives his team based on his defense) is not going to be applicable this early in the season, but Ben Wallace had a 6-8 DWS during his prime. Villanueva had his best last year at a 2.7 DWS. In Wallace's fourth season in the league, he had a 3.9 DWS.
Defensive rating (DRtg -- an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) is something that we can probably look at though. During Ben Wallace's prime he was anywhere from 87-95 DRtg and ranked amongst the top in the league every year. This season he was at 95 DRtg going into the Wizards game. Charlie Villanueva was 111, 110, 112, and 106 DRtg in his first four seasons. He was sitting at an improved 102 DRtg going into the Wizards game, which would actually be top 20 in previous years.
I'd take my analysis of these stats with a grain of salt, especially since I don't consider myself an expert by any means in NBA sabermetrics, but Villanueva's defense seems to definitely be improving.
To me, all I care about is if he can match it on the other side of the floor which is something Ben Wallace can't do. Ben Wallace needs to be stellar at defense to be effective for his team. Charlie V. really just needs to hold his own on defense because, at times, he puts up ten times what Wallace does on offense.
Do I think they should be mentioned in the same sentence in terms of their defense? Hell no. Do I think Villanueva's the NBA's worst defender and a major liability to his team? Probably not and I don't really care if he's giving up points as long as he's averaging 25 points per game on the other end, which he's been doing in the past four games. That PPG probably won't stick, but CV's ORtg/DRtg so far seems to indicate that he is going to bring the Pistons a decent number of wins this season, despite the existence of some defensive inadequacy. He's clearly working hard and improving some on defense and that's all we can really ask for as fans.
What observations have you made about CV's defense thus far? I definitely have seen where some of the criticism comes from, but have you thought he's been painfully bad as many believed he'd be? Do you see the improvements? Do you have anything to add in terms of the heavy duty sabermetrics that are now available throughout the internet (and I refuse to spend hours on trying to master it)?
UPDATE: Eli Zaret confirmed during Sunday's telecast that the quote was indeed about Ben Gordon and not Wallace. I hope an editor at ESPN was fired over this.