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Comparing Dalembert and Hawes in Individual Defense

As promised, one more defensive comparison between new King Samuel Dalembert and his outgoing counterpart Spencer Hawes. This one uses Synergy's play-by-play data to look at each player's individual defense.

Almost 90 percent of defensive possessions for most centers come on three types of plays: isolation, spot-up and post. Dalembert and Hawes fit this mold.

About 15 percent of each center's defensive possessions came in isolation. In those opportunities, Dalembert allowed his opponent to score 0.7 points per possession, shooting 29 percent from the floor and drawing a foul on 8 percent of the plays. Hawes allowed his opponent to score 0.96 points per possession, shooting 45 percent and drawing a foul on 12 percent of the plays. Dalembert caused a turnover on 9 percent of iso possessions; Hawes just 1 percent.

Roughly 30 percent of Dalembert's defensive possessions and 25 percent of Hawes' came in spot-up situations, where the opposing center or forward received a pass and shot before taking a dribble. Dalembert allowed opponents to 0.98 points per possession on these, while Hawes allowed 0.85 ppp. Opponents shot 43 percent versus Dalembert and 37 percent against Hawes, and Dalembert allowed a greater rate of threes (42 percent vs. 31). Neither fouled much or caused many turnovers on this type of play.

Now, the big enchilada: post defense.

Post-up plays constituted 40 percent of Dalembert's defensive possessions, and 45 percent of Hawes'. Dalembert allowed opponents to score 0.87 points per possession. Hawes allowed 0.97 ppp. Dalembert fouled more frequently but forced almost twice as many turnovers, and held opponents to 43.7 percent shooting in the post vs. 48.4 percent for Hawes.

So Hawes does a better job closing out on shooters than Dalembert, but Sam is vastly superior (according to the data) working one-on-one off the dribble or in the low post, and has performed signficantly better on defense overall. This doesn't figure in his defensive rebounding (which is elite) and team defense (which is where most of his blocks come into play).

Once again, this is a massive defensive upgrade.