I was recently defending T.J. Ford's defense in the comments to a FanPost and someone raised a question about Ford's defensive numbers when paired with other players. The specific question was whether his defensive numbers were looking great because he was spending a lot of minutes in the backcourt with Brandon Rush. I promised to take a look into it; a week or so later, here's the answer: Ford's defense does depend on who's on the court with him.
I compared the Pacers' Offensive and Defensive Ratings when Ford was paired with Rush and when Ford was paired with James Posey. The table below shows the results.
|Ford with Rush||217.9||111.34||95.99||+15.35|
|Ford without Rush||197.9||95.67||100.54||-4.86|
|Ford with Posey||185.2||96.15||93.18||+2.97|
|Ford without Posey||224.6||113.99||106.71||+7.27|
At first glance it seems like the pivot point is James Posey not Brandon Rush. Although the team's defense is about 4 points worse when Ford is on the floor without Rush it's still a very solid Defensive Rating and way better than average. The only combination of these four where the Pacers' defense is worse than average is when Ford is on the floor without James Posey. Unfortunately, this is the scenario where the Pacers have the highest Offensive Rating.
From my perspective this breakdown doesn't tell us anything new, as much as it reinforces what we already knew. The Pacers' defense has been much improved this season. Ford's defense is a large part of that, but he benefits from playing with other strong defensive players. T.J. Ford and James Posey aren't contributing much on offense. I know this is a pretty quick and rudimentary break down but I wanted to fulfill my promise and provide the numbers. Feel free to continue this discussion in the comments!