Last week, we saw that the new DRAYMOND defensive rating put forward by FiveThirtyEight had Kristaps Porzingis as a top 3 defender over the past 6 seasons. However, KP is not the only Dallas Mavericks big man to be recognized by the rating.
We all knew that the Dallas Mavericks had a couple solid defenders on the team last year, but based on the new DRAYMOND metric, it is clear that Maxi Kleber was the best defender by a long shot. It is important that I clarify early on that this metric does not actually attempt to tell you who the best defenders in the league are, but rather the best players at fitting this stats criteria.
DRAYMOND stands for “Defensive Rating Accounting for Yielding Minimal Openness by Nearest Defender”. The idea behind this metric is basically that the players that are creating as little space between them and the shooter are doing the most based on today’s space-and-pace era of basketball.
Obviously this statistic is a good thing for players to be good at. I would much rather have the guy that is going to run out on all these three-point shooters than a player that will get sucked in and leave their opponent wide open. As with many defensive stats, however, this one definitely caters better to the big men of the league.
According to last year’s breakdown, Derrick Jones Jr. was the only player in the top 15 that was not a big man. This isn’t terribly surprising as shot blockers are always going to do everything they can to be as close to a shot attempt as possible.
Still, this is a valuable rating for the NBA, seeing who the best players are at closing out and showing hustle each and every play. Based on the values that this metric is looking at, it should be no surprise to Mavs fans that Maxi was rated 5th overall last year, behind Derrick Favors, Mitchell Robinson, Derrick Jones Jr., and Jusuf Nurkic.
Maxi proved to be one of the best hustle players in the league and is so good at protecting the paint and being able to guard the perimeter effectively when necessary that it is no surprise the Mavs elected to pay him $9 million a year for the next 4 years.
Maxi is going to be a valuable asset for the Mavericks for years to come and Mavs fans should be excited to see just how much he can improve over the next few years. It is nice having another representative from Wurzburg, but it’s even nicer knowing that he is a key member of the team.