Kobe Bryant has made more NBA All-Defense teams than any shooting guard in NBA history.
How does he rank now among the top defensive shooting guards in the NBA though?
Following up on my rankings of the starting point guard for every team, here are the shooting guard rankings.
I want to qualify a couple of things that some people seem to have missed though from the previous rankings.
First, these aren't "my numbers." They come from Synergy, the most respected scouting agency in pro or amateur basketball. The only thing I've done is taken what they've provided and trimmed it down to positional rankings.
Second, these are "soft rankings." By that I mean that yes, there is such a thing as nuance and there are differences in rankings based on team defenses and so on. So why put them in this order?
Because numbers do tell a large part of the story. We can't simply ignore what the numbers tell us because we don't like what they say. Looking at things this way also tells us a kind of "bulk trend."
For instance, with the guards there was a trend which showed that players who gave up a high percentage of jumpshots fared worse overall than those who gave up more points on penetration.
While there are sometimes different reasons for this, the trend indicates that perhaps defending the jump shot is a more important aspect of defense than is normally attributed. Ergo we learn something about defense from the numbers.
Numbers don't tell us everything, but they do tell us something. The goal here is to "learn" more than it is to "prove."
I like to say if you've honestly never been proven wrong by your research you've never done honest research. Anyone can simply just post whatever reinforces the prevailing opinion. That's not the goal here. It's to see whether the prevailing opinion is right.
It is true that there are some cases where the player is better or worse than his ranking suggest and I have taken a great deal of time to account for that.
For each player I've watched about five to 10 minutes of footage of them playing defense specifically at Synergy. That's more than it sounds. It takes about a minute and a half to watch all a players defensive plays for a game when their put together like this.
I've watched games too. I know it comes a surprise to some that someone that spends inordinate amounts of time crunching numbers might have enough interest in the game to watch but it is true. I watched ever team in the NBA play at least five games last season, and most more than that.
I have also researched other writers and considered their scouting reports in my write ups. While the rankings are strictly numerical, I will be including in each section some subjective analysis of how the players play and when appropriate, whether the numerical rankings might be misleading.
If you want to know more about the methodology please consult the point guard article. As to how I came by the starter on some teams, it's a bit difficult. There was no hard and fast rule. Generally though I tried to go with the current starter if they had ample minutes to do so. In cases where there was a reason for doubt, I explain my reasoning in the slide.