One of my favorite national NBA writers, Tom Haberstroh, recently wrote an article on ESPN Insider, making a case for Elton Brand as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Synergy Sports Technology, a video tracking service provided to NBA teams, tracks every possession of every game played in the NBA and slices each game into play types. One of the plays Synergy tracks is the post-up; it analyzes how many points a player allows in those situations. So where does Brand rank in points allowed on post-up plays? First. Nobody is better this season. Not Howard. Not Andrew Bynum. Not Kevin Garnett.
Haberstroh points out that EB plays for the best defensive team in the league and is one of only three players to average at least 1.7 blocks and 1.1 steals, along with this nugget on what happens to the Sixers' D when Brand isn't on the floor:
When Iguodala doesn't have Brand on his side, the Sixers' defense becomes 4.6 points worse on the defensive end. Without Iguodala on the court, the Brand-led defense becomes 7.5 points less stingy. Iguodala might be Philadelphia's most essential defender, but considering all the stated credentials above, Brand isn't too far behind.
Taking it a step further, Brand ranks eighth in the NBA in defensive win shares.
According to 82games.com, he holds opponents to a PER of 15.5 – just above league average, which is good considering he defends the opposing team's best inside scorer on a nightly basis and has no defensive help, whatsoever, from the center position.
Brand may be overpaid and a shell of his former self, but make no bones about it, he's been extremely instrumental to the Sixers' success. Not only is he a factor on the defensive end, but he's one of the Sixers' most efficient scorers and offensive rebounders.
Old school Chevy.