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According to Synergy Sports, Fesenko allowed a mere .716 points per play last season, ranking him in the 96th percentile among all NBA players. Of all the hoopsters that had at least 100 defensive plays last season, Fesenko ranked fourth overall in points per play (Boston's Jermaine O'Neal was second at .675 points per play). Opponents shot a mere 34.2 percent against Fesenko and, while he's still susceptible to post-up situations, he excelled against the pick-and-roll and especially in spot-up situations where players must shoot over his long frame (Fesenko has a 9-foot-4 standing reach).
The best-kept secret in the NBA right now is Fesenko's monstrous defensive stats. It's not that one or two metrics point out his defensive value; it's that all of them do, without any pointing to the contrary. Last season the Jazz were an eye-popping 11.91 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Fesenko on the floor, and this is not a new trend. The season before it was 8.67; in limited minutes his first two seasons he also had a strong differential. Synergy Stats, meanwhile, rated Fesenko as the second-best defender in the entire league among players who faced at least 150 opponent plays; the season before he was first. And according to 82games.com, opposing centers had a PER of just 10.4 against him; the season before it was 12.9. Despite his size, Fesenko doesn't block a ton of shots or dominate the boards. He just uglies up the game for opponents with his sheer hugeness, especially since he moves his feet fairly well for his size. And he can still get better -- he wasn't always fully engaged in Utah and needs to step up his commitment.