Noel Blocks UK Record 12 Shots; Tops Sheldon Williams (2006) for Best Defender

Sheldon Williams 2006 season for Duke has reigned as the best defensive season by any player according to www.valueaddbasketball.com. Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, who shattered the Kentucky record with 12 blocked shots to stun #16 Mississippi last night 87-74, may finally top him.

The table below will be explained at the bottom of the post, but Noel is in the 100th percentage of shotblockers, 97th percentile in defensive rebounding, and ahead of almost every guard in the 99th percentile in steals.

Best Defensive Seasons Sheldon Williams Nerlens Noel
Team Duke Kentucky
Height 6-foot-9 6-foot-10
Season 2006 2013
Pts. Allowed per trip 89.8 (96th) 88.7 (91st)
% opp. Shots rebounded 23.3 (100th) 21.1 (97th)
Steals ball on % opp trips 2.8 (90th) 4.4 (99th)
% of opponents' shots rejected 9.5 (100th) 12.6 (100th)
Defensive Value Add -5.27 -6.72

While Michigan’s Trey Burke is on pace to become  the top offensive player of the past eight years, the table below shows that Nerlens may mirror him by becoming the best defensive player.

Nerlens is the 6th best overall player this season, but on defense he has been more valuable than even his predecessor Anthony Davis, great guards like VCU’s Briante Weber, and forwards that could both steal and rebound like Terrence Williams and Jae Crowder.

Rnk Player Team Conf Ht In Class Def Overall Year NBA
1 Noel, Nerlens Kentucky SEC 6 10 1 Fr -6.72 9.64 2013 PF/C NBA
2 Washington, Leonard Wyoming MWC 6 7 4 Sr -5.79 9.22 2013  
3 Williams, Shelden Duke ACC 6 9 1 Fr -5.27 11.93 2006 PF/C NBA
4 Weber, Briante VCU CAA 6 2 2 So -5.16 7.04 2013  
5 Plumlee, Mason Duke ACC 6 10 4 Sr -5.11 10.34 2013 PF NBA
6 Davis, Anthony Kentucky SEC 6 10 1 Fr -5.06 12.35 2012 PF NBA
7 Smart, Marcus Oklahoma St. B12 6 4 1 Fr -5 8.15 2013  
8 Saunders, Damian Duquesne A10 6 7 3 Jr -4.98 6.53 2010  
9 Carter-Williams, Michael Syracuse BE 6 6 2 So -4.95 8.85 2013 PG/SG NBA
10 Crowder, Jae Marquette BE 6 6 4 Sr -4.89 11.12 2012 SF NBA
11 Williams, Terrence Louisville BE 6 6 4 Sr -4.73 7.93 2009 SG/SF NBA
12 Millsap, Paul Louisiana Tech WAC 6 8 4 Sr -4.68 9.94 2006 PF NBA
13 Withey, Jeff Kansas B12 7 1 4 Sr -4.66 8.06 2013  
14 Roberson, Andre Colorado P12 6 7 3 Jr -4.58 6.5 2013 SF NBA
15 Smith, Taylor Stephen F. Austin Slnd 6 6 4 Sr -4.43 7.5 2013  
16 Dieng, Gorgui Louisville BE 6 10 2 So -4.39 6.27 2012 PF NBA
17 Singleton, Chris Florida St. ACC 6 9 2 So -4.31 4.31 2010 SF/PF NBA
18 Saunders, Damian Duquesne A10 6 7 4 Sr -4.17 6.89 2011  
19 Jackson, Cedric Cleveland St. Horz 6 3 4 Sr -4.12 4.62 2009  
20 Faried, Kenneth Morehead St. OVC 6 8 3 Jr -4.11 6.76 2010 PF NBA
21 Faried, Kenneth Morehead St. OVC 6 8 2 So -4.1 6.34 2009 PF NBA
22 Faried, Kenneth Morehead St. OVC 6 8 4 Sr -4.1 8.36 2011 PF NBA
23 Porter, Otto Georgetown BE 6 8 2 So -4.07 7.6 2013 SF NBA
24 Obekpa, Chris St. John's BE 6 9 1 Fr -4.06 4.06 2013  
25 Thabeet, Hasheem Connecticut BE 7 3 3 Jr -4.05 8.43 2009 C NBA
26 Durant, Kevin Texas B12 6 9 1 Fr -4.01 11.42 2007 SF NBA
27 Green, Draymond Michigan St. B10 6 7 4 Sr -4 9.11 2012 SF/PF NBA
28 Beasley, Michael Kansas St. B12 6 9 1 Fr -3.99 12.42 2008 SF NBA
29 Allen, Jeff Virginia Tech ACC 6 7 1 Fr -3.98 4.12 2008  
30 Gaffney, Tony Massachusetts A10 6 8 4 Sr -3.97 7.3 2009 PF NBA

Saturday Noel had seven blocked shots when he picked up his fourth foul with 9:53 to play in the game, and he still blocked five more shots down the stretch.

Guard Archie Goodwin provided the offensive with 24 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.  However, it was Noel who rejected the SEC’s leading scorer in Marshall Henderson when he tried to give Mississippi ahead with 6:27 to go in the half, and tried to expand on a 35-32 lead with 1:37 to play.  Henderson never seemed to recover, hitting just 5 of 19 shots.

Mickell Gladness of Alabama A&M holds the record with 16 blocked shots in the game, and Roy Rogers of Alabama and Loren Woods of Arizona are the two players who have blocked 14 against a BCS-level opponent.

Many were shocked when preseason Value Add only ranked Kentucky 18th and had Mississippi all the way up to 36th

For those interested in the specifics of the top table above and how it calculates Noel as the most valuable defender in eight years.

In 2006, Williams rebounded 23.3 percent of all opponents missed shots, but him in the top (100th) percentile of all players. Noel almost matches that, in the 97th percentile with 21.1 percent grabbed.

Williams was also in the 100th percentile in blocking 9.5 percent of opponents shots, but Noel was blocking 12.6 percent of opponents shots. Perhaps more amazing are how these big men steal the ball from opponents.  Williams was in the 9th percentile – stealing the ball on 2.8 percent of opponents trips down the court.  Noel was in the 99th percentile, - ahead of almost every guard in the country, stealing the ball 4.4 percent of opponents trips.

Williams was part of a Duke Defense that allowed just 89.8 points per 100 trips down the court, but Kentucky is allowing an ever lower 88.7 points per 100 trips.

Putting these numbers together and the level of opponents faced, Williams took 5.27 percent of opponents’ points away, but Noel so far is even better taking away 6.72 percent.


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