NY Knicks: Nerlens Noel is 2nd in the entire NBA in this statistic

Nerlens Noel, NY Knicks. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Nerlens Noel, NY Knicks. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The NY Knicks have been a force on defense all season long, and one of the key components of the team’s shutdown basketball has been their center, Nerlens Noel.

Nerlens Noel came into this season on a 1-year deal worth 5 million dollars. The Knicks needed depth behind Mitchell Robinson, and Noel had proven to be a nice role player for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the past 2 seasons. The team knew they were signing a good interior defender, but I’m not sure anyone expected Noel’s impact to be this significant. 

NY Knicks: Nerlens Noel has been one of the top interior defenders in the NBA

After returning from a fracture in his arm, Mitchell Robinson played just 1 game before he picked up a leg injury that will keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. The Knicks have relied on Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson to fill the minutes left by Robinson, and they’ve been holding down the fort.

You watch NY Knicks games, chances are you’ll see 1 or 2 highlight reel Nerlens Noel rejections. Noel currently ranks 4th in the NBA in blocks per game. Watching Nerlens Noel shot-block is beautiful to watch. He’s not someone who blows you away with athleticism, but his anticipation, rotations, timing, and strength are something to behold. He’s a master of his craft.

Looking at more than just his blocks per game, there are statistics to show how tremendous Noel’s defense has been this season. Nerlens Noel is 2nd in the NBA in one of the best advanced stats in the NBA: Defensive Box +/-.

From Basketball Reference’s website, Box +/- is a “Basketball box score-based metric that estimates a basketball player’s contribution to the team when that player is on the court… BPM uses a player’s box score information, position, and the team’s overall performance to estimate the player’s contribution in points above league average per 100 possessions played. BPM does not take into account playing time — it is purely a rate stat”.

Without getting into the equation of defensive box +/-, it always tends to be an accurate, non-volume-based statistic.

Now as someone who loves cycling through statistics and charts, let me make this clear: There is no be-all-end-all statistic. Stats are just a small piece of the puzzle. This metric stands out because the players at the top always seem to be widely recognized great defenders.

NBA Top 10 In Defensive Box +/- 

  1. Matisse Thybulle
  2. Nerlens Noel
  3. Draymond Green
  4. Jimmy Butler
  5. Rudy Gobert
  6. Nikola Jokic
  7. Giannis Antetokounmpo
  8. Andre Iguodala
  9. Ben Simmons
  10. Bam Adebayo

Pretty elite company of defenders for Nerlens Noel.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a defensive metric that does not support Nerlens Noel being one of the best defenders in the league this season. He’s been a huge asset for the Knicks team that is 3rd in the league in defensive rating.

With little depth behind him, the “Nerlens Wall” has become a vital part of the NY Knicks. No easy buckets so long as Nerlens Noel is protecting the paint.

Next. Derrick Rose proving to be the X-factor for The Knicks. dark