The acquisition of point guard Chris Duhon in the Dwight Howard trade could pay big dividends for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2013.
While Chris Duhon and fellow reserve Steve Blake are nearly clones of one another offensively, Duhon will bring a defensive presence that Blake clearly lacks.
While Duhon is not the missing piece in the Lakers’ championship puzzle, the team will be stronger with him as an option off the bench.
Offensive Comparison – Duhon vs. Blake
Statistically speaking, Chris Duhon and Steve Blake have been nearly identical throughout their careers. Check out their Per-36 Minute comparison:
Chris Duhon (Per-36) – 9.3 PTS, 6.3 AST, 2.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 39%/36%/79%, 10.9 PER
Steve Blake (Per -36) – 10.0 PTS, 5.7 AST, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 40%/39%/79%, 11.3 PER
From an offensive perspective, Duhon and Blake are basically the same player – marginal scoring, solid assists, decent 3-point shooting, low FG%, and both are capable of running the offense.
Chris Duhon’s Defensive Impact
Though not a lockdown defender, Chris Duhon will give the Lakers a better defensive option than Steve Blake.
At 6’1″ and 185 pounds, Chris Duhon can be a more physical defender than the 6’3″, 172-pound Steve Blake. Duhon is also two-plus years younger than Steve Blake and is more athletic.
Advanced statistics illustrate the impact Chris Duhon can have on his team.
With data taken from 82Games.com, here is how point guards Jameer Nelson and Chris Duhon performed with a “Core Four” of Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson, and Dwight Howard:
Points Per Possession Allowed – Magic Point Guards + Core Four
Chris Duhon – 0.89
Jameer Nelson – 1.04
Chris Duhon’s defensive impact in 2012 with the Orlando Magic was significant as opponents scored .15 fewer points per possession when he was on the floor.
Steve Blake’s Defensive Liabilities
The reverse is true with Steve Blake – the more Blake played with the Lakers’ Core Four, the worse the defense performed.
In 2012 the Lakers had a Core Four of Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. Here is how the Lakers’ point guards performed defensively with the Core Four:
Points Per Possession Allowed – Lakers Point Guards + Core Four
Derek Fisher – 0.98
Ramon Sessions – 1.05
Steve Blake – 1.10
The Lakers starting four performed much worse with Steve Blake than with Fisher or Sessions.
This is particularly bad news considering Derek Fisher was past his prime and Ramon Sessions is not considered as a defensive stopper.
Duhon vs. Blake – In Summary
On offense Chris Duhon and Steve Blake are virtually identical players, but Chris Duhon will give the Lakers a better defensive option. This will be particularly important as the Lakers battle with Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, and Chris Paul throughout the year.
Chris Duhon is not going to singlehandedly lead the Lakers to a 2013 NBA championship.
But with Duhon as another option off a much-improved bench, the Lakers are one step closer to bringing the title back to Tinseltown.