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How much does Elton Brand help the Sixers?

"You think a double-team is going to stop me?"
"You think a double-team is going to stop me?"

A common misconception around the league is that Elton Brand is a "bust" and completely sucked in his first season as a Sixer. First of all, he had an unfortunate freak injury. Secondly, just because he didn't put up his usual 20-10 numbers doesn't mean he didn't have a huge impact on the team -- specifically their defense and rebounding. 

Last season, Elton played the majority of his minutes with Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Sam Dalembert, and some variation of Bill Green and Thaddeus Young. During that time the Sixers grabbed 78% of the defensive rebounds and 32% of the offensive rebounds available.

Compare those numbers to those the starting lineup (Miller, Green, Iguodala, Young and Dalembert) put up when Brand went down: 70% of the defensive boards and 32% of the offensive boards.

The discrepancy in the numbers could be attributed to the Sixers playing with an undersized power forward post-Brand, but even a lineup of Miller, Green, Iguodala, Reggie and Dalembert had a worse defensive rebounding percentage: 74%. They did however; dominate the offensive glass with 41%. So, while Brand might not help the already fantastic offensive rebounding (ranked second in the NBA), he helps the defensive rebounding immensely.

(Note: The reason I didn't use a lineup of Miller, Iguodala, Young, Reggie and Dalembert to compare is because they only played 6 minutes together last season.)

And if you thought #42 had a big impact on the defensive rebounding, just way 'till you see what he does to the Sixers overall defense. 

Here are the numbers (according to :

Lineup #1: Miller, Iguodala, Young, Brand, Dalembert = 92 defensive rating

Lineup #2: Miller, Green, Iguodala, Young, Dalembert = 106 defensive rating

Lineup #3: Miller, Green, Iguodala, Reggie, Dalembert = 103 defensive rating

The Sixers defense was drastically better with Brand in the lineup. To put that 92 rating in perspective, here's a look three of the "best" defensive lineups around the league, and their ratings:

Lineup #1: Parker, Finley, Bowen, Duncan, Bonner = 90 defensive rating

Lineup #2: Nelson, Bogans, Turkoglu, Lewis, Howard = 94 defensive rating

Lineup #3: Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Powe, Garnett = 86 defensive rating

The average rating of the three lineups is 90, only two better than the Sixers with Brand. I had all this in mind when I predicted the Sixers will win 48 games and finish as a top-5 defensive team, but both go down the drain if Elton Brand cannot stay on the court. 

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