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Old 12-10-2012, 11:48 AM   #16
SHAQisGOAT
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

GOAT defensive player, Thurmond is the GOAT one-on-one post defender though
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:57 AM   #17
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlip
As best as defense can be measured, and based upon the overwhelming consistency of the reports of the people who coached against him, players who played against him, and the media who watched him I would say that, Yes, Russell is more than likely the greatest defensive player ever.
Is there any measuring stick that points to Russell directly as a great defender?
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:13 PM   #18
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

His team's historic level of defensive performance with him on the court (a level they were able to sustain for a decade), as opposed to mediocre to dismal performance before he arrived, when he left, and when he was injured, point to him as the greatest defender of all time.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:41 PM   #19
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

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Originally Posted by Pointguard
Is there any measuring stick that points to Russell directly as a great defender?

Defense is always difficult (and sometimes impossible) to quantify statistically. It becomes an even more cumbersome task when trying to determine the defensive effectiveness of an individual who played before certain stats were officially recorded. Having said that, the closest thing to an actual and potentially credible statistical analysis of Russell's defensive impact that I've seen was found in Dean Oliver's book, Basketball on Paper: Rules and Tools for Performance Analysis.

Observing certain trends throughout league history he estimated the league defensive ratings before 1974 I will just provide you with his conclusions.
To make things equal, Oliver used the same formula and criteria for each team during the Russell era. He observed that Russell’s Celtics were by far the best defensive team in 12 of his 13 seasons. Wilt’s Sixers were the best in 1967, the only season the Celtics weren’t 1st. The Celtics’ defensive rating improved by 5.7 points from the previous season the year that Russell was drafted and immediately became the best in the league. The Celtics team defensive rating dropped off by roughly 6 points and was only slightly better than average the season after he retired. This was Oliver’s conclusion after looking at these numbers.

The Celtics’ routinely outstanding defensive rating during Russell’s tenure and the dramatic changes in their defensive ratings with and without Russell only reinforce the likelihood that Russell was the greatest defender in NBA history…if he [Russell] could make the entire team defense five to six points better than average, that is an impact on the order of Jordan’s [offensively] during his prime…” Basketball on Paper, p. 205.

I readily admit that such estimates are not definitive proof, but they are basically the best we have apart from unofficial block totals.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:49 PM   #20
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

From what I've seen, he's the best anchor ever. He was a fierce shot-blocker at the rim and he was smart. Some of the things that Dwight does not get credit for are the things that Russell excelled at doing. He was also very athletic, quick, had tremendous lateral movement and great foot speed in short spaces.
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:14 PM   #21
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Ranking the best defensive centers of all-time: http://basketballjournalist.blogspot...-all-time.html
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:27 PM   #22
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlip
Defense is always difficult (and sometimes impossible) to quantify statistically. It becomes an even more cumbersome task when trying to determine the defensive effectiveness of an individual who played before certain stats were officially recorded. Having said that, the closest thing to an actual and potentially credible statistical analysis of Russell's defensive impact that I've seen was found in Dean Oliver's book, Basketball on Paper: Rules and Tools for Performance Analysis.

Observing certain trends throughout league history he estimated the league defensive ratings before 1974 I will just provide you with his conclusions.
To make things equal, Oliver used the same formula and criteria for each team during the Russell era. He observed that Russell’s Celtics were by far the best defensive team in 12 of his 13 seasons. Wilt’s Sixers were the best in 1967, the only season the Celtics weren’t 1st. The Celtics’ defensive rating improved by 5.7 points from the previous season the year that Russell was drafted and immediately became the best in the league. The Celtics team defensive rating dropped off by roughly 6 points and was only slightly better than average the season after he retired. This was Oliver’s conclusion after looking at these numbers.

The Celtics’ routinely outstanding defensive rating during Russell’s tenure and the dramatic changes in their defensive ratings with and without Russell only reinforce the likelihood that Russell was the greatest defender in NBA history…if he [Russell] could make the entire team defense five to six points better than average, that is an impact on the order of Jordan’s [offensively] during his prime…” Basketball on Paper, p. 205.

I readily admit that such estimates are not definitive proof, but they are basically the best we have apart from unofficial block totals.

Good stuff! Still not direct but impressive. I notice that Russell missed a few games every year. It would be great if somebody did a study of how the team did defensively without him. That would make the contrast, more indictative of his presence (or more direct).
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:41 PM   #23
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

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Originally Posted by NumberSix
Kobe's heart

More like 8==D rider.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:08 PM   #24
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

As much as Bill russell gets praise for his defense, I cant help but think this was a marketing ploy by the nba. At the time WIlt vs. Russell was the biggest rivalry in basketball history and it was a way to build up anticipation for every game they played against one another.


It was always labeled the greatest scorer vs. the greatest defender.

Also Russell, was considered the best player in the league before wilt, but when wilt came into the league he quickly changed that. IN order to still promote russell he had to be the best at something and defense it was.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:04 AM   #25
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlip
He observed that Russell’s Celtics were by far the best defensive team in 12 of his 13 seasons. Wilt’s Sixers were the best in 1967, the only season the Celtics weren’t 1st.


Do you happen to know the method that Oliver used to estimate pace? What's interesting is that using Elgee's method, I too came to the conclusion that Russell's Celtics were the best defensive team in 12 of his 13 seasons, the difference being that Wilt's Sixers were better in 1968, not 1967.

Code:
1968 76ers 92.1 Celtics 92.4 Warriors 94.2 Hawks 96.4 Bullets 96.5 Knicks 97.0 Bulls 97.1 Lakers 98.1 Rockets 98.3 Pistons 98.7 SuperSonics 100.6 Royals 102.7

Code:
1967 Celtics 91.2 Warriors 92.9 Pistons 94.6 Bulls 94.8 76ers 95.1 Lakers 97.3 Hawks 97.6 Bullets 98.2 Royals 98.8 Knicks 100.9


I posted this chart I made a while back that attempts to somewhat quantify Russell's defensive stats. Like you said though, it's somewhat difficult given the limited data available. It's a shame we don't have the synergy numbers from back then, nor do we have the DRAPM data or any similar statistics.


Last edited by DatAsh : 12-11-2012 at 12:32 AM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:24 AM   #26
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlitt
As much as Bill russell gets praise for his defense, I cant help but think this was a marketing ploy by the nba. At the time WIlt vs. Russell was the biggest rivalry in basketball history and it was a way to build up anticipation for every game they played against one another.


It was always labeled the greatest scorer vs. the greatest defender.

Also Russell, was considered the best player in the league before wilt, but when wilt came into the league he quickly changed that. IN order to still promote russell he had to be the best at something and defense it was.



Why was he the best before Wilt?
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:50 AM   #27
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DatAsh
Do you happen to know the method that Oliver used to estimate pace? What's interesting is that using Elgee's method, I too came to the conclusion that Russell's Celtics were the best defensive team in 12 of his 13 seasons, the difference being that Wilt's Sixers were better in 1968, not 1967.

I'd have to go back and check my notes and the information from the book. It may take a couple of days for me to find those though. I do remember reading that the creators of basketballreference.com used Oliver's book as the source for much of their advanced stats. I'm familiar with Elgee's work and was amazed as to how similar his conclusions were to Oliver's.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:54 AM   #28
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DatAsh
Do you happen to know the method that Oliver used to estimate pace? What's interesting is that using Elgee's method, I too came to the conclusion that Russell's Celtics were the best defensive team in 12 of his 13 seasons, the difference being that Wilt's Sixers were better in 1968, not 1967.

Code:
1968 76ers 92.1 Celtics 92.4 Warriors 94.2 Hawks 96.4 Bullets 96.5 Knicks 97.0 Bulls 97.1 Lakers 98.1 Rockets 98.3 Pistons 98.7 SuperSonics 100.6 Royals 102.7

Code:
1967 Celtics 91.2 Warriors 92.9 Pistons 94.6 Bulls 94.8 76ers 95.1 Lakers 97.3 Hawks 97.6 Bullets 98.2 Royals 98.8 Knicks 100.9
Where did the Warriors rank the years they had Thurmond? I see they were #2 and #3 in '67 and '68, but what about the other years? I've read about how good he was as a defender. It's interesting to note that the careers of arguably three of the top five defensive anchors of all-time coincided, and their careers also took place in the 60's. You know...when all the centers were 6'5" white guys.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:05 AM   #29
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlitt
As much as Bill russell gets praise for his defense, I cant help but think this was a marketing ploy by the nba. At the time WIlt vs. Russell was the biggest rivalry in basketball history and it was a way to build up anticipation for every game they played against one another.


It was always labeled the greatest scorer vs. the greatest defender.


Also Russell, was considered the best player in the league before wilt, but when wilt came into the league he quickly changed that. IN order to still promote russell he had to be the best at something and defense it was.

NEW YORK (AP)—The vanishing athlete—the defensive basketball player—has returned in the person of big Bill Russell.

Although he has yet to play a full season in professional ranks, his coach, the Boston Celtics’ Red Auerbach, already hails him as the greatest defensive basketball player who ever lived.

Several rival NBA coaches are ready to agree with him, too.
After Boston had ruined Detroit’s home opener with a victory last week, Piston coach Charley Eckman said: “Russell beat us all by himself—with his brilliant defensive play.”

Last Saturday night, after the Celtics had overcome a 14-point deficit to defeat the Knickerbockers 131-121 and spoil their home debut before some 13,000. New York coach Vince Boryla groaned: “Sure they had to score a zillion points to win, but it was Russell who beat us, nobody else. If he hadn’t batted down all those shots in the first half, we’d have taken such a commanding lead, they’d have given up.”

Actually, the former Olympic and University of San Francisco All-American, who carries 230 pounds on his spidery 6-10 frame, grabbed 23 rebounds, made three interceptions and nine spectacular blocks of seemingly certain goals which would have added 18 points to the losers’ total. He also added 25 points of his own.

(Joe Reichler. “Russell Top Defense Man.” Ludington Daily News. Oct 30, 1957.)

Source- At the time the above was written Wilt was still a freshmen in college.


“That’s quite a twist, isn’t it, having a defensive player mean the difference?” said Kundla. “We don’t fear the Celtics without Bill Russell. Take him out and we can beat them … He’s the guy who whipped us psychologically. Russell has our club worrying every second. Every one of the five men is thinking Russell is covering him on every play. He blocks a shot, and before you know it, Boston is getting a basket, and a play by Russell has done it.”


--Lakers coach, John Kundla after the 1959 Finals before Wilt played one NBA game
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:43 AM   #30
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlitt
As much as Bill russell gets praise for his defense, I cant help but think this was a marketing ploy by the nba. At the time WIlt vs. Russell was the biggest rivalry in basketball history and it was a way to build up anticipation for every game they played against one another.


It was always labeled the greatest scorer vs. the greatest defender.

Russell was acknowledged as the GOAT defender before Wilt ever came into the league, so this assertion isn't supported by any actual facts.
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