The Curious Case of Pat Beverley

Pat Beverley has received some well-deserved acclaim lately. Simmons and Lowe were bantering about a nickname for him, spitting out ideas like “The Pitbull” or “The Rotweiler.” In a little over half a season, Beverley has demonstrated a remarkable ability to be a complete pest and irritate the hell out of the opposing point guard. As many have pointed out, he’s brought a much-needed tough/nasty/chesty edge that the Rockets would otherwise lack.

Nevertheless, for all the praises that have been sung about him, no, defensive, measurement, seems to indicate that he’s performing a whole lot better than his peer guards. That seems strange, considering that he certainly passes the eye test better than his peer guards. Or more peculiar, he has a noticeably good defensive game but the box score of the opposing point guard actually looks decent when all is said and done. I think there are two main explanations, in no particular order.

  1. Defensive statistics are poor and don’t adequately capture defensive performance;
  2. Pat Beverley’s defense is aggressive and easily noticed, but not necessarily more effective

I personally believe in both of these explanations. All my number torturing has certainly convinced me that defense, particularly individual defense, is a pain in the ass to measure accurately. And there are way too many examples of players who pass both statistical and eye tests on defensive who would certainly not be described as pitbulls or rotweilers. Shane Battier, Danny Green, and Ricky Rubio come to mind. In short, one does not have to bust someone’s kneecap to play good defense (sorry OKC fans, had to say it).

[Quick side note, even if Pat Beverley isn't actually the second coming defensively, I love the shit out of him and am very happy with the intangibles that he does contribute.]

But just leaving it at those two explanations isn’t very fun. I’m going to propose the theory that, from a whistle to whistle perspective, Beverley actually is very good defensively, but he comes with unseen side effects that actually detract from his effectiveness. I’ll now discuss some of those side effects.

First, he fouls a lot. Beverley currently averages 3.5 fouls per 36 minutes. That’s 6th among guards who have played over 30 games and average at least 22 minutes per game. It’s third for starting guards, and second for starting point guards, behind only Mario Chalmers. Those fouls matter. It helps the opponent get to the line and point guards tend to be better free throw shooters. This might explain why we see Beverley playing good defense but the stats don’t quite add up, because the opposing team is still scoring while Beverley isn’t even playing defense. And while playing good defense and fouling might be somewhat inevitable, Chris Paul’s 2.5 fouls per 36 minutes and Andre Iguodala’s 1.9 say that it can definitely be done.

Second is that Beverley’s offense is limited. In that same group of 90  players, he is 78th in FGs attempted per 36 and 73rd in FG%. His offensive responsibilities are to pass the ball over half court and wait in the corner in case a kick out three comes his way. He’s not running around screens, isn’t involved in the pick and roll, and only penetrates a few times per game if a play breaks down or it’s late in the shot clock. So while he might be a complete pest when he’s defending you, he’s fairly enjoyable to defend. Opposing PGs aren’t chasing him around the court or being run into picks. They just have to stand kind of close to him and leave the majority of defensive responsibilities to everyone else.

I mention this because unlike guarding other PGs, guarding Beverley gives opponents a chance to rest on defense, which means they can better exert themselves on offense. When the sides switch, Beverley’s energetic defense is actually met by more energetic offense, thus negating some of Beverley’s effectiveness. Think about someone like Steph Curry, a notoriously horrendous defender. Golden State has to hide him on defense because he’s so bad, but not against someone like Beverley. Curry can just stay put, not worry much about his defensive assignment (something he loves doing anyways), and conserve his energy for offense.

Not fouling will just come with time and maturity. Beverley will learn that he doesn’t have to go for the knees just to play good defense. But I wonder if the Rockets can at least involve him in the offense more, just to make the opposing point guard expend some energy on defense. Beverley’s shooting 36% on 3s, which isn’t great but is OK enough that he can’t just be completely abandoned if he’s open. It might be worth it to run him through some slip screens to make his man slam into Dwight Howard a few times. Provided Beverley can stay in the game, those plays might pay dividends late in games when Beverley’s man is more winded.

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Total comments: 27
  • lawprofsr says 5 months ago

    I'm still trying to figure Beverley out, and how he fits on this team. The feisty, pesky, in-your-face tough guy is a familiar character, and I have read a few articles recently about how he has imposed his character on the team. Does this really work for the Rockets? It's one thing when the team embraces the identity, like Detroit's Bad Boys--even sweet-faced Isaiah Thomas bought into that. But Dwight Howard is Mr. Happy-go-lucky, The Beard has until recently been pretty stoic, The Hair is our matinee idol, and Jeremy is the devout Christian. I don't think they're all that comfortable following Beverley's example. I still think he provides a great spark at times, but I don't think he's actually the heart of this team like some have been saying.

  • shirtless says 5 months ago

    So this is a shameless plug for... myself :)

    Like I said in my post, I love Beverley's intangibles. He adds toughness and peskiness and makes the team more feisty overall. But, like I also said in my post, his propensity to foul absolutely matters. Last night he had three shooting fouls and one technical foul. Those fouls directly led to nine Thunder free throws. And unlike big guys protecting the rim, Beverley's fouls tend to come against perimeter players shooting jump shots, so the fouled shots have a less likely chance of going in and the fouled players are better free throw shooters. He also had two non-shooting fouls that then led to more free throws for, I think, the best free throw shooting team in the league.

    Again, I love what Beverley does. The data, however, are slightly less enthusiastic about him, at least from a measurables perspective. So without bashing Beverley (because I love him), let's just use the data to responsibly and more completely assess what he brings and takes away.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    @TTDN

    he doesn't watch film of PG's. all players are required to watch game film

  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago Beverley doesn't watch film. That surprised me.
  • thenit says 5 months ago

    HAHA Love the Pic.

    I don't have the link but saw a great picture after the game where a few of the team just embraced each other. The Bev/Lin controversy is only out here in the on the line :) Just based on Jeremy and Patricks comments and interaction they support and love each other. Of course they are competing for the same minutes but none of them are rooting for the other to fail and I love the way they cheer each other on.

    Both were huge the past two games and this is what I think McHale envisioned when he made the switch. Big team effort from every rocket.

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    Just saw this and had to share....thought some Bev/Lin harmony would be good...

    13052898665_52d8880919_o.png

    The only thing weirder than this picture is the realization that putting the sandwich together makes them kiss :wub:

    EDIT: Also, they put the faces on the wrong sides... :lol:

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    @MrLobble

    totally agree.......could not have said it better myself.

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    No worries. Thanks for posting the link.

  • redfaithful says 5 months ago

    My bad JG, here's the link: http://espn.go.com/nba/player/splits/_/id/3964/patrick-beverley

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    Following the poor FG% from Bev last night I looked at his splits, and there's a huge difference on splits by rest days:

    SPLIT GP MIN FGM-FGA FG% 3PM-3PA 3P% FTM-FTA FT% OR DR REB AST BLK STL PF TO PTS

    0 Days Rest: 10 31.3 2.8-7.5 .373 1.6-4.1 .390 1.0-1.0 1.000 1.4 2.1 3.5 2.4 0.2 1.4 3.9 1.5 8.2

    1 Days Rest: 18 33.1 2.8-8.3 .342 1.2-4.7 .259 1.1-1.6 .714 1.4 2.7 4.1 2.4 0.6 1.3 3.1 0.9 8.0

    2 Days Rest: 9 32.9 5.0-10.4 .479 2.7-5.1 .522 2.0-2.7 .750 1.2 2.7 3.9 3.2 0.7 1.7 3.2 1.3 14.7

    3+ Days Rest: 6 27.8 3.7-8.3 .440 1.5-3.8 .391 1.3-1.3 1.000 2.0 1.5 3.5 2.8 0.2 1.3 2.2 1.0 10.2

    The FG% and AST on 2+ days rest are much better than 0-1 days rest. Let's hope the playoff schedule give the Rockets some 2 days rest beteen games in the series...

    Thanks for the info. Just a quick request--for everyone who does this--as this is one of my pet peeves. If you are going to simply cut and paste data without bothering to format it please include a link to the webpage you copied the data from so that those of us who enjoy our data in rows and columns can read it. It's that or a lot of space bar/cursor key manipulation. :) Thanks!

  • Dayak says 5 months ago Good research redfaithful
  • redfaithful says 5 months ago

    Following the poor FG% from Bev last night I looked at his splits, and there's a huge difference on splits by rest days:

    SPLIT GP MIN FGM-FGA FG% 3PM-3PA 3P% FTM-FTA FT% OR DR REB AST BLK STL PF TO PTS

    0 Days Rest: 10 31.3 2.8-7.5 .373 1.6-4.1 .390 1.0-1.0 1.000 1.4 2.1 3.5 2.4 0.2 1.4 3.9 1.5 8.2

    1 Days Rest: 18 33.1 2.8-8.3 .342 1.2-4.7 .259 1.1-1.6 .714 1.4 2.7 4.1 2.4 0.6 1.3 3.1 0.9 8.0

    2 Days Rest: 9 32.9 5.0-10.4 .479 2.7-5.1 .522 2.0-2.7 .750 1.2 2.7 3.9 3.2 0.7 1.7 3.2 1.3 14.7

    3+ Days Rest: 6 27.8 3.7-8.3 .440 1.5-3.8 .391 1.3-1.3 1.000 2.0 1.5 3.5 2.8 0.2 1.3 2.2 1.0 10.2

    The FG% and AST on 2+ days rest are much better than 0-1 days rest. Let's hope the playoff schedule give the Rockets some 2 days rest beteen games in the series...

  • Willk says 6 months ago

    Beverly is an excellent defender. The problem is, with simplistic modeling and stat lines, you have figure out an advanced way to incorporate the other players into it for a solid argument...

    For defense, teams have various rotations depending on the defensive set called (force baseline, force middle, help coming baseline, help coming middle etc), and a simple miscue by any player will cause the defense to get off balance ... Look at all the moments when Harden gives up on D; our opponents will reverse the ball a few times, and someone is forced to close out on a shooter late.

    In addition to being annoying and tiring his opposition, I've always wondered how his decision to pick up full court affects the timing of offenses. In the NBA and the 24 second shot clock, I'd assume that many teams have a lot of quick hitters that are driven off of timing... From the eye test, it's my belief that he reduces the shot clock by a few seconds because it'll take the average NBA point guard about 3 crossovers/hesitations to advance it in the half court.

    I completely agree about how Beverley throws off the other team's timing by picking up the opposing PG full court. He also forces the other team to team to take precious seconds off of the 24 second clock. Little things like that make a difference through out a game. Also, if Beverley's guy gets by him, Beverley is quick enough to get back and still challenge the shot

  • MrLobble says 6 months ago

    Beverly is an excellent defender. The problem is, with simplistic modeling and stat lines, you have figure out an advanced way to incorporate the other players into it for a solid argument...

    For defense, teams have various rotations depending on the defensive set called (force baseline, force middle, help coming baseline, help coming middle etc), and a simple miscue by any player will cause the defense to get off balance ... Look at all the moments when Harden gives up on D; our opponents will reverse the ball a few times, and someone is forced to close out on a shooter late.

    In addition to being annoying and tiring his opposition, I've always wondered how his decision to pick up full court affects the timing of offenses. In the NBA and the 24 second shot clock, I'd assume that many teams have a lot of quick hitters that are driven off of timing... From the eye test, it's my belief that he reduces the shot clock by a few seconds because it'll take the average NBA point guard about 3 crossovers/hesitations to advance it in the half court.

  • QNoir says 6 months ago

    So Beverly is having a great game. Maybe the other side is right and the corner 3 is just what the Rockets need from a PG on the offensive end. That and not turning the ball over.

  • Alituro says 6 months ago

    You're right, JG. Not to mention that the PnR is probably the most-run play out there, especially by PGs, and to properly defend it, it takes the cooperation of no less than 2 but usually 3 defenders. The play negates the initial defensive effort of the PG, by design.

    So to post opposing guard stat lines and proclaim that the other PG didn't defend well, isn't a very solid argument. Defending the best PGs properly is most certainly a team effort.

  • thejohnnygold says 6 months ago

    Do we have to constantly be reminded that these PG's are some of the best scorers in the league? The level of defense necessary to consistently "shut down" these guys in a league that favors offensive spectacle hasn't been invented yet.

    Chris Paul gets all the kudos for being a defensive PG. So then, what do we say to these opposing PG stat lines?

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Steph Curry - 14-23 for 38 pts. and 9 assists

    Isiah Thomas - 9-13 for 29 & 4

    Patrick Beverley - 6-13 for 19 & 3 with 4 steals, 2 blocks and 5 rebs

    Russell Westbrook - 7-18 for 19 & 10 (a typical Westbrook line)

    Isiah Thomas - 5-12 for 22 & 5

    Mike Conley - 6-8 for 16 & 4

    Kyrie Irving - 6-15 for 20 & 6

    Jordan Crawford - 7-17 for 20 & 9

    John Wall - 10-16 for 24 & 12

    Jrue Holiday - 5-11 for 13 & 10

    Steph Curry - 5-17 for 15 & 11 (actually, that's a win!)

    Goran Dragic - 10-15 for 26 & 8

    Damian Lillard - 8-12 for 21 & 5

    Patty Mills - 9-15 for 25 & 5

    That is 14-42 (exactly 1/3) games played that Paul has certainly not been much of a defensive force. So, we could just as easily cherry pick some games (the way people like to do with Beverley) and say, "See! So-and-so abused him. He's no defensive stopper! Over-rated!!!"

    Let's not forget that Paul currently plays in front of the best defensive center in the league (that's right....Jordan is currently holding that title until Dwight takes it back from him). When looking at his game-by-game stats it became obvious he feasts on weak teams and young players. Against the top third of the league he is mortal--like everyone else.

    I don't think anybody is proclaiming Beverley to be some kind of defensive juggernaut. I will argue that his numbers stack up favorably to any of the other "defensive" PG's in the league. So which is it? Is he good or are they bad--it can't work both ways.

  • QNoir says 6 months ago

    I like Beverly for not turning the ball over, and for his defense, of course. However, I think it's true that often he looks really agressive, but isn't extremely effective. Basketball is not unlike other jobs, where superficiality goes a long way. Just like taking notes at meetings will not mean those notes are used effectively, or referenced at all, staying hyperactive will not always lead to the best defense. There's also decision-making and other things to take into account.

    Beverly does appear to shake opponents with his defense, but a battle between guards is usually one in which both guards look to assert themselves both offensively and defensively. What I often see is a guard increasing his offensive intensity in response to Beverly's game, and relaxing on defense. Yes, I'm talking about low assist numbers. We all know that the worst shots, where multiple Rockets don't touch the ball (or when there's great contestation), lead to the easiest offensive possessions for opponents. Offense helps defense.

    Additionally, he can only guard one player at a time. When you're an offensive threat, you can cause the entirety of the other team to worry about you on one end of the floor. When you're a defensive threat, they can simply keep you in isolation, guarding that player who may not be the team's playmaker. This kind of marginalizes Beverly's impact on the floor. If Bev plays defense, and Harden plays offense, it makes for very easy decisions for opposing teams.

  • Alituro says 6 months ago

    The thing about NBA quality PGs is that they've spent their entire lives playing against defenders who are out to prove something against them, through AAU, JHS, HS and college. Beverley's stuck-like-glue, pesky defense is nothing new to them and their ability to overcome is what has elevated them to their current status today. On the flipside, NBA PGs defending, have the realization that there is little to gain from full-pressing Chris Paul or Curry for 40 minutes on a given night other than extreme fatigue or a possible injury. Beverley doesn't wear out (at all) and doesn't care. However, PGs now know they must prepare physically for a night of PB. If they do take measures and prepare for him, they can overcome, or at least not suffer much because of it. If they treat the PB challenge like any other game and don't prepare to be worn the F out, then Beverley will run all over them. (See Jrue Holiday).

    With 4 other ball-hungry guys on the team, he fits our starting unit perfectly on offense too. We also have two guys who command double teams all the time. We don't want much attention paid to him on offense, we want his defender sliding over to hedge on Harden or Parsons or to try and swipe down low on Dwight. We want him perched and hidden somewhere behind the arc where he hits at a respectable clip. Or have him aiming his sights on chasing down a long rebound like he does so well, diving to the floor for a loose ball, saving it from going out of bounds, all of the intangibles that won't show on a box score. These are due to lack of defensive attention. He makes good passes and post entry passes, handles the ball well and doesn't turn it over when it's in his hands. He brings the toughness, grit and swagger that we need so much. Stats, Splats, He's Perfect :wub: !

  • rm90025 says 6 months ago

    Thanks for starting this discussion. It's very difficult for anyone to question the true value of Beverley's defense within the Houston fan base and now within the NBA community because the impression has been left that he is a 'pest' and a tough defender. The stat that stands out to me for any defensive player, including Beverley is opposing FG%. Beverley has not done very well in terms of holding down the opposing point guard's FG%. Curry, Parker, Dragic and others have all shot the ball well with him as a primary defender. However, we also have to take into account how many times an offensive player beat his defender, got an open shot and just missed. If you look at the Clippers game, Chris Paul had a bad shooting night but Beverley's defense had little to do with that. He just missed a lot of wide open jump shots off pick and roll plays. I don't think there is a defensive stat metric to measure those situations.

  • Sir Thursday says 6 months ago

    New post: The Curious Case of Pat Beverley
    By: Richard Li

    Pat Beverley has received some well-deserved acclaim lately. Simmons and Lowe were bantering about a nickname for him, spitting out ideas like "The Pitbull" or "The Rotweiler." In a little over half a season, Beverley has demonstrated a remarkable ability to be a complete pest and irritate the hell out of the opposing point guard. As many have pointed out, he's brought a much-needed tough/nasty/chesty edge that the Rockets would otherwise lack.

    Nevertheless, for all the praises that have been sung about him, no, defensive, measurement, seems to indicate that he's performing a whole lot better than his peer guards. That seems strange, considering that he certainly passes the eye test better than his peer guards. Or more peculiar, he has a noticeably good defensive game but the box score of the opposing point guard actually looks decent when all is said and done. I think there are two main explanations, in no particular order.

    Well defensive RAPM definitely ranks him highly: http://stats-for-the-nba.appspot.com/teams/HOU.html (third on the team behind Howard and Asik, and his offensive RAPM is actually pretty good as well), so that statement about the lack of defensive measurements that support his defensive effectiveness isn't true. There certainly are metrics that show him to be a valuable defender if you look around a bit ;).

    ST

  • rockets best fan says 6 months ago

    @JG

    I agree totally.the little pestis one of my favorite players :lol:

  • thejohnnygold says 6 months ago

    I'd just like to point out--for those who want to paint Beverley as some sort of offensive nothing--that since returning from injury his 3pt% has been steadily increasing. Really, aside from a December slump he has shot the 3 ball pretty well. Since Feb.1st he has shot 43% from deep. For the season he now stands at 36%.

    Since he shoots 53% of his shots from 3 pt. range his overall fg% will skew downwards. It sits at 44% currently. By the way, he splits his time between pg and sg about 60/40 (according to bball reference). So doesn't that mean his offense will suffer due to his undefined role? (I don't believe this, but apparently it's a thing). Long story short, he's just fine given what he is purposed to do.

    But hey, we're talking defense here. While Bev's fg% given up is nothing spectacular at 39.4% what is remarkable is that opponents do not shoot as often against him. The math is easy: 40% of 10 shots is more than 40% of 6 shots. Thus, his defense becomes more difficult to quantify as it falls under the "Dwight Effect" umbrella. How many shots never came into existence due to his defense?

    When viewed in this context Bev's numbers closely resemble players like Chris Paul, Mario Chalmers, George Hill and Mike Conley (again, per mysynersysports). Of the shots that opponents do get off, they only score 38% of the time once you factor in free throws and to's.

    While I don't disagree that style is not the same as substance I do disagree that Bev's high energy defense is more bark than bite.

  • Jatman20 says 6 months ago Francisco Garcia: OffRtg--104.2....DefRtg--101.2...eFG%-- 51.7%...TS%--52.2%...Pace--98.30....PIE--5.9%....FG%--39.3.....3P%--35.2

    Jordan Hamilton: OffRtg--101.3...DefRtg--105.4....eFG%--49.5%....TS%--51.2%....Pace--98.67...PIE--10.3%...FG%--40.4.....3P%--35.6
    Stats per NBA.com
    * If you look at some of these stats one would have to conclude Francisco Garcia is better or equal; but it doesn't seem to pass the eye test.

    Only a controlled experiment of changing say one variable truly works----say Miami: (constants)Bosh/Battier/LeBron/Wade/ Variable (Chalmers),
    insert Beverley or Lin or Lillard or Chris Paul or Tony Parker or Curry or ect....ect....ect for a period of time. Study how the numbers change. Hamilton's numbers may be skewed from time in Denver or vice-versa. Perhaps defense should be like fantasy football where you go by defensive units as a whole? Maybe??
  • BrentYen says 6 months ago

    But he or other ppl who call the game does not follow a particular team or player closely tho. So it depends a lot on which game he said those.

  • Steven says 6 months ago Beverly got the Webber stamp of approval for his D. Webber is as honest as they come when it comes to his commentary.
  • PhillyCheese says 6 months ago

    Excellent article. Experts say defense is about giving effort, and on that count, there is no denying that Bev gives effort. As the author says, against GS, Curry gets to rest so the Rox offense does not suffer that much. But if they were playing Miami, then the opposing PG will be able to double team the Rox ballhandler (Harden) with less worry. That is when the Rox gets in trouble - against the better teams that have 5 guys committed to both ends.