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Paul Pierce The NBA’s “Easiest” Good Player To Block?

Jay August 7, 2010 Uncategorized 10 Comments

Summer Reading: "The Art of a Beautiful Game" written by Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated.

Ballard's book is one of the better recent basketball books that's been published.  It was released in the Fall of 2009 but I just got to reading it now.  I can't recommend it highly enough.  While the chapters seem scattered all over the place, it doesn't interrupt the flow at all.  While the book itself doesn't contain that much Celtics related material, there's plenty of great insights of the NBA in general.  There is however, one interesting tidbit in Chapter 11.

Entitled: "Shot Blockers: A Rare Affection for Rejection," Ballard discusses the mindset of the shot blocker and what it takes to become a good shot blocker.  He discusses how much Dwight Howard enjoys rejecting a shot 30 rows into the crowd, then contrasts Howard with Bill Russell, who perfected the blocked shot by tapping it to a teammate.

He touches upon Manute Bol's 8 blocked shots in one quarter and how Mark Eaton holds the NBA record for most blocks in a single game with 14.  Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Ben Wallace, Emeka Okafor, Alonzo Mourning and newest Celtic Shaquille O'Neal expectedly get their due.  The one little nugget I found interesting was how Utah's Andrei Kirilenko described Paul Pierce.  Below is an excerpt from that chapter, discussing how shot blockers use the "bait-and-block" ploy to block a shot effectively:

This ploy, the bait-and-block, is one of many tricks of the trade.  A primer might include these tips: 1) know your pump fakes (Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady are especially dangerous); 2) swat with the hand opposite the shooter's for better extension (a favorite of Ben Wallace's); 3) watch your man's jersey, not his eyes ("the eyes lie," warns Eaton); 4) beware the nearly unblockable floater of guards like Tony Parker (it's the blocker's mirage, there one second, gone the next); and 5) know who loves to get to the line (Utah's Andrei Kirilenko rates Boston's Paul Pierce as the easiest "good" player to block because Pierce is forever trying to get a shot off near the basket in hopes of getting to the free throw line, sometimes offering up easy block opportunities).

If you're an NBA player speaking strictly from your defensive instincts, this might be true about Pierce.  Going by statistical data, Pierce ranked 77th in total shots blocked with a total of 50, tied with Andrew Bynum, Aaron Afflalo, Dirk Nowitzki and teammate Glen Davis.  Here are the top 80 (from HoopData.com) based on players that played at least 40 games last season:

Player  Team GP MP Shots Blocked
Zach Randolph
MEM 81 3055 121
Carmelo Anthony DEN 69 2636 109
Gerald Wallace CHA 76 3120 106
David Lee NYK 81 3019 105
Amare Stoudemire PHO 82 2836 103
Rodney Stuckey DET 73 2501 101
Russell Westbrook OKC 82 2815 99
Carlos Boozer UTH 78 2674 96
Derrick Rose CHI 78 2872 93
Rudy Gay MEM 80 3176 92
Stephen Jackson CHA 72 2830 89
Monta Ellis GSW 64 2647 88
Andray Blatche WAS 81 2254 87
Corey Maggette GSW 70 2078 84
Tyreke Evans SAC 72 2681 84
Aaron Brooks HOU 82 2919 80
Brook Lopez NJN 82 3025 78
Carl Landry HOU 52 1413 76
Luis Scola HOU 82 2672 75
Chris Bosh TOR 70 2527 74
Andre Miller POR 82 2499 71
David West NOR 81 2948 71
Michael Beasley MIA 78 2329 70
Brandon Jennings MIL 82 2672 69
Jason Thompson SAC 75 2355 68
Tim Duncan SAS 78 2435 68
Kevin Durant OKC 82 3240 67
Kobe Bryant LAL 73 2835 67
Chris Kaman LAC 76 2608 66
Rajon Rondo BOS 81 2965 66
Danny Granger IND 62 2277 65
Kendrick Perkins BOS 78 2153 65
Roy Hibbert IND 81 2036 65
Tony Parker SAS 56 1729 65
Deron Williams UTH 76 2805 64
Dwyane Wade MIA 77 2795 64
J.J. Hickson CLE 81 1692 64
Dwight Howard ORL 82 2844 63
Josh Smith ATL 81 2874 63
Jermaine O'Neal MIA 70 1990 62
Trevor Ariza
HOU 72 2633 62
Al Jefferson MIN 76 2469 61
Andrew Bogut MIL 69 2231 61
Chauncey Billups DEN 73 2490 61
Chris Douglas.Roberts NJN 67 1736 61
Jonny Flynn MIN 81 2341 61
Kevin Love MIN 60 1721 61
Paul Millsap UTH 82 2275 61
Shawn Marion DAL 75 2386 61
Darren Collison NOR 76 2106 60
DeJuan Blair SAS 82 1496 60
Emeka Okafor NOR 82 2369 60
Pau Gasol LAL 65 2404 60
O.J. Mayo MEM 82 3115 59
Baron Davis LAC 75 2524 58
Corey Brewer MIN 82 2485 58
Nene Hilario DEN 82 2763 57
Devin Harris NJN 64 2218 56
Elton Brand PHI 76 2298 56
Chuck Hayes HOU 82 1779 54
Luol Deng CHI 70 2655 54
Al Horford ATL 81 2846 53
Joe Johnson ATL 76 2882 53
Jonas Jerebko DET 80 2233 53
Sam Young MEM 80 1320 53
Eric Gordon LAC 63 2233 52
George Hill SAS 78 2275 52
Thaddeus Young PHI 67 2144 52
Al Harrington NYK 72 2192 51
Spencer Hawes SAC 72 1904 51
Taj Gibson CHI 82 2205 51
Will Bynum DET 63 1669 51
Andrew Bynum LAL 65 1980 50
Arron Afflalo DEN 82 2221 50
Dirk Nowitzki DAL 81 3039 50
Glen Davis BOS 54 932 50
Paul Pierce BOS 71 2409 50
Stephen Curry GSW 80 2895 49
Raymond Felton CHA 80 2646 48
D.J. Augustin CHA 80 1470

47

Interesting to note that Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, Tim Duncan, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Amare Stoudemire, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Joe Johsnon and Dirk Nowitzki (tied) are all ahead of Pierce.  I guess in Kirilenko's mind, they are tougher to reject.

It should also be noted that in an earlier chapter that discusses the defensive capabilities of Shane Battier, Battier himself gives Pierce an "honorable mention" when ranking the toughest players to guard.  He ranks Kobe, Wade, Brandon Roy, Manu Ginobili and LeBron James as the most difficult while giving honorable mentions to Pierce and Kevin Martin.

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  • KY Celts fan

    Pierce does like to do that thing where he drives and then just throws his arms up trying to get the call. Drives me crazy cuz it hardly ever works!

  • green8teen

    you should check what those stats were like before the big 3, when pierce was the #only consistent scoring option. i think that’ll give a better idea if that is true.

  • Joey

    Does that chart count only the 2009-2010 season or something else? Because I watched every Laker game last season and I don’t remember Kobe being block more than like 4 times, and I don’t think Bynum got blocked that much either since he’s 7′ and didn’t get a lot of shots with Gasol and Kobe there.

  • Dirk Minnifield

    Shaq make KP expendable via trade?
    JO make Baby expendable via trade?
    Just sayin’.

  • Dirk Minnifield

    Baby/KP in last years of their deals.

  • CoolBreeze

    Pierce made Kirilenko cry a couple years ago because he couldn’t stop him, i’d take that comment with a grain of salt.

  • Lee in Oregon

    Speaking of THE TRUTH, he still needs a legitimate b/u….it’s been reported that Portland would possibly take a first round pick for Rudy. If true, that’s a steal.
    If not, maybe Tony Gaffney makes the team, as well as Harangody. T-Mac is about to sign Detroit, but since were assembling a 1995 All-star team, why not him too? Does anyone remember when he and Pierce were the the 2 best 2 guards in the East?

  • Adrian Mendoza

    Dirk – is the at the guard from the 86-87 Celtics???

  • Steve

    One thing on Pierce though. His leg injury was limiting his lift even late in the year. He was getting blocked much much more than his norm. So this table likely makes him seem worse than his normal rate. Late in the playoffs he was better but still not normal. That will hopefully be better next season. Glen Davis on the other hand has zero lift and may set records for being blocked unless he learns to pass more vs when he can get the shot off effectively. I like his energy and hustle though. But he needs to channel it more effectively.

  • Johnny

    Looks like Glen Davis is far and away the leader in shots blocked per minutes played.