While it has become increasingly important that frontcourt players help defend the pick-and-roll in today's NBA, post defense is still a large part of a big man’s job. Jan Vesely and Trevor Booker have shown the mobility and hustle to eventually excel in defending the pick-and-roll; however, they are liabilities in the post. With the help of MySynergy Sports.com, let’s take a look at their struggles and how it relates to the upcoming draft.
To be blunt, Jan Vesely was a pretty bad post defender in 2011-'12, ranking 237th in the league in points allowed per post possession. For context, an average post-up across the entire NBA yielded 0.82 points. Against Jan, opponents averaged 1 point per post-up.
Being a rookie is tough, and getting schooled in the post is part of the learning process. To his credit, Vesely didn’t get bullied in the post too often, despite his slim frame. He did, however, have trouble with fakes. Players using up-and-unders and head fakes were successful numerous times. Check out the video below and watch Vesely get faked out of position.
Looking to the future, Vesely's improvement seems likely. Andrei Kirilenko, one of the players Vesely was most often compared to, was a very good post defender in 2009-’10, ranking 39th in the NBA in points allowed per possession (he declined in ’10-’11, but remained an average post defender). The catch here is that Kirilenko played mostly small forward at that point. The Wizards have Vesely facing off against power forwards and centers, so he has his work cut out for him. But with his height and shot blocking ability, he has a chance to develop into a reliable post defender.
Trevor Booker’s motor and heart are always encouraging, but he has been a below average post defender in his first two seasons in the NBA. As a rookie, he ranked 265th in the league in points allowed per post possession. This past season he improved to 157th, but that still leaves him below average.
Unlike Vesely, Booker doesn’t get beat by pump fakes very often. Instead, Booker’s problems stemmed from his short stature. The vast majority of made baskets against Booker were simple jumpers or hook shots taken over his 6’7" frame. The video below shows a few examples.
Like Vesely, Booker can improve, but one has to think his height will always limit his ability to defend the post. Jason Maxiell, a comparable undersized power forward, has struggled as a post defender, as well. He allowed 0.91 and 1.03 points per post-up in ‘10-’11 and ’11-’12, respectively. Overall, Booker has value to the Wizards, but he will likely continue hurt the team as a post defender.
Mike made his case for considering Thomas Robinson with the number three pick. But beyond his rebounding ability, another factor to consider is that Robinson would allow the Wizards to play a power forward with the athletic ability to defend the perimeter and the supposed size to defend the post.
I use the word "supposed" because official measurements will be done at the NBA Draft Combine this week, and I am now a little skeptical about Robinson’s height. Rohan Cruyff of the SB Nation Hornets blog At the Hive found this picture of Robinson (left) standing next to 6’10"-ish Andre Drummond and 6’8"-ish Harrison Barnes. The perspective might not be perfect, but he looks quite a bit shorter than Barnes here. His questionable height combined with his low block rate has me a little worried about his interior defensive abilities.
Speaking of Dummond, clearly the negatives surrounding him are substantial and four years of the JaVale McGee Experience would make any Wizards fan wary. Nevertheless, Drummond looks like he could be a complete frontcourt defender. This DraftExpress video shows his ability to guard the pick-and-roll (1:58) and the post (2:54).
The Wizards have potential frontcourt depth in Jan Vesely and Trevor Booker, but neither player is a complete defender at this time. Do you have faith in the defensive development of Vesely and Booker? If Bradley Beal is gone and Thomas Robinson measures out shorter than expected, does Andre Drummond's defensive potential move him up a bit in your minds? Let us know in the comments below.