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What's the value in a blocked shot?

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The Daily Cameraís Brian Howell recently had a column talking about how Tad Boyle isnít worried about the quantity of blocks his team racks up, rather he is more concerned about protecting the paint and taking charges.

"I want to be first in the conference in field-goal percentage defense, I want to be first in the conference in taking charges, and I want to be last in the conference in shot blocks," Boyle said. "If you're protecting the paint by making people take contested shots and you're taking charges and not letting them get to the rim, blocked shots don't matter."

A lot of times we hear one thing, but when we take a deeper dive into the numbers, things donít quite add up (think about the misnomer of CU playing ďfastĒ), is this one of those times?

Tad has long been known not to be a gambler on the defensive end. He makes teams run it deep into the shot clock before getting off a shot (opponentís possessions averaged 18.4 seconds last year, 227th). But what about blocks?

% of shots blocked NCAA Rank
2013 8.6 195th
2012 8.9 171st
2011 7.1 261st

Itís fairly clear that CU doesnít rack up the blocks compared to the rest of the NCAA. But what about in conference?

Year % of shots blocked Conf Rank
2013 6.7 11th
2012 10.2 5th
2011 7.4 9th

Fairly similar in conference, 2012 sticks out, a quick glance at the numbers offers a quick explanation. Andre Roberson blocked 6.8% of the shots while he was on the court in 2012 but regressed in 2013 to ďonlyĒ block 4.3% of shots. Itís fairly clear this Tad guyís teams donít block many shots, but do they protect the paint?
Letís take a look at the % of shots at the rim:

Year Shot Type % of shots FG% % of Shots Blocked Unblocked FG%
2013 At Rim 28% 59% 10% 65%
2012 At Rim 30% 57% 11% 64%
2011 At Rim 37% 60% 9% 66%

Shots at the rim are obviously the best shot in the game (Daryl Morey, the GM of the Houston Rockets has actually constructed a team that specializes in shots at the rim and 3ís, forgoing any mid-range jumpers) and protecting the paint and limiting shots in the paint is clearly a focal point in CUís defensive scheme. Tadís teams have gotten better each and every year at limiting the amount of shots at the rim. Now letís compare CU to Arizona St and Jordan Bachynski, the poster boy for protecting the rim and blocking shots in the Pac-12.

Arizona St.
Year Shot Type % of shots FG% % of Shots Blocked Unblocked FG%
2013 At Rim 33% 56% 18% 68%

Now this is where it gets interesting, did Arizona St. block more shots at the rim? Yes, by a large margin of 10% to 18%, but they also allow 5% more shots at the rim and Arizona St. actually allows teams to shoot 3% better at the rim on unblocked FGís. So whose interior defense is actually the poster child for interior defense? Good interior defense is not sexy, it is not glamorous, but it is certainly effective. Donít let the national media or analysts bait you into buying the value of a blocked shot, this Tad Boyle knows the true value of interior defense isnít measured in blocked shots.

Updated 10-20-2013 at 11:43 PM by jgisland



  1. Jalapeno's Avatar
    Good stuff.

    As long as Tad's teams grab those defensive rebounds, his defensive ideas make sense. It's awesome to see blocks because it gets people out of their seats just like dunks but missing out on a block could really bite.

    I don't think it would hurt if there were some blocked shots since it would show the opposing team they would have to work to get the ball through the hoops.