Note: This is the 2nd of a two-part series examining how the Canton Charge has won seven straight games and stands as one of the best teams in the NBA G League. Click this link if you want to read the first part about the team’s red hot offense.
In the piece on the Charge’s offense, one of the main themes that lingered was how their success was due to a tremendous level of cohesiveness. No matter the group of five men that were on the court at a particular time, each player knew what their role is and what they’re supposed to do to help put points on the board. As we explained in that article, the cohesion has led to Canton having the second-best offense in the G League during the streak according to the points per 100 possessions metric.
While an electrifying offense is what gets fans into the Canton Memorial Civic Center, their success wouldn’t be possible without being an elite defensive team. During their seven-game winning streak, the Charge stands as the eighth-best defense in the league as opponents are averaging only 106.9 points per 100 possessiobelowns against the team.
Sticking with statistics, you can easily see a few different ways that this unit has been able to stand out. For one, they’ve done a tremendous job of being able to guard both the perimeter and restricted area.
During their streak, opponents are shooting just 31% from beyond the arc on 33.7 attempts per game. That low average only trails the Raptors 905’s defense, which has forced opposing teams to shoot 29% from beyond the arc since February 19th.
Canton’s ability to lock down the three-point line goes back to the previous point regarding their cohesion and knowing where to be on the court. Those factors are crucial when it comes to defending the perimeter as they’ll be to close out on open shooters quickly. A lot of those closeouts come from wings Sir’Dominic Pointer and Levi Randolph, who have 6’8 and 6’10 wingspans, respectively.
Sticking with Pointer, he stands as the anchor of the fantastic defense. That shouldn’t surprise anyone that’s been keeping track of his career since his time at St. John’s, where he won Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. His elite defense has persisted as he’s currently averaging 1.8 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. If you discount Chicago Bulls prospects Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison, who have played a combined four games in the G League, Pointer stands as the lone man in the league to maintain those averages.
As those numbers can probably tell you, Pointer is a fantastic all-around defender that can protect the rim as well as he can guard the perimeter. Pointer’s knack of defending the paint is due to a combination of quick feet, fantastic awareness, and a 6’8 wingspan. Those skills are evident in the play below, where the veteran recognizes the cutting Mad Ant, sticks with him, and then makes a clean block.
While Pointer stands as arguably the best defender in the G League, he’s not the only member of the Charge team that’s asked to protect the rim. Along with the 2.3 blocks that the veteran forward has averaged during the stretch, bigs Marques Bolden (2.1 blocks), and Dean Wade (1.3 blocks) that are averaging more than a block per game during the seven-game winning streak. The collective effort of those players has forced opposing teams to shoot just a league-worst 57% from within the restricted area during Canton’s current winning streak.
Canton’s current ability to protect the rim and perimeter at a rate better than twenty-seven other teams are the most significant reasons behind their fantastic defensive run. Because aside from those two areas, the Charge trail the pack. An example of that is evident from how opponents are putting up the third most amount of second-chance points against the team despite them having the best defensive rebounding percentage (DRB%) during their winning streak. In addition to that, opponents are averaging 18 turnovers per game against our subject, which stands as the 11th best average in the G League.
Despite some of those lower numbers, the Canton Charge is still one of the best defenses in the G League. Headlined by Sir’Dominic Pointer with a handful of talented players on his side that know their role within the team’s defensive system. That cohesiveness has pushed opposing teams to struggle from both the three-point line and restricted area when they’re going against Canton.
Can we be 100% positive that their defense can continue at this pace in the playoffs when they’re going against the best teams in the league? Nope. However, their cohesiveness and knack of protecting both the paint and three-point line should make you confident that the Canton Charge’s defense will be able to remain solid.