Joel Embiid is know to over-use his social media, from hitting on Kim Kardashian and Rihanna to making controversial claims about his talent.
His social media accounts are something to follow if you are looking for a daily dose of funny videos featuring himself and his 76ers teammates. But be prepared for some overstatements on various things, with his latest claim being that he is the best defensive player in the league right now.
Embiid has actually shown flashes of grandeur with his defensive skill-set, as he often posts some wild numbers in blocks.
He's coming for the DPOY Award. pic.twitter.com/HkW4zkICry
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 23, 2017
However, in order to back his claim for the best defender in the league, Embiid has to increase his steals per match, with a mere 0.8 through his career. We don’t entirely agree with Embiid in this claim, so here is a look on 5 players who are better defensively than Embiid.
* Giannis Antetokounmpo: Giannis is posting some insane numbers this season, and if he wasn’t focused on the offense so much, his defensive stats would be even greater than they actually are (1.7 spg, 1.7 bpg). However, Giannis is the main offensive solution for the Bucks this season, but that might change if they trade for DeAndre Jordan.
* Andre Drummond: Drummond has been a beast this season, as he has improved in every aspect possible. The big man is now involved in the Piston’s offense way more than he was involved in previous years. Besides giving out a ton of assists, he is tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo for the 2nd most steals per game in the PF or C position (1.7 spg, 1.3 bpg), second only to Larry Nance Jr.
5. Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley is coming off a phenomenal season with the Boston Celtics, where he not only posted career-highs in points (16.3), but also in rebounds (6.1), which is odd for a guard. He has been really improved on the offensive end, but his defense has been a really big part of his game so far. While he doesn’t always post impressive numbers, his impact in the matches is not always visible in the box-score. With career-averages of just 1.1 steals per game and a mere 0.2 blocks per game, one might think that he is not as good a defender as he actually is.
He is excellent in individual defense, and looking at how opposing guards play against him will convince you that he is the real deal. Who can forget the defense he played on Kyrie Irving last season in the Eastern Conference finals? He kept Kyrie to 11 points in the first match and forced him to commit 3 turnovers per contest through five matches. Numbers might not mean much, but if you happen to watch a Pistons match this season, you will see that he defends like a rabid dog. His really strong defense, combined with the fact that he only commits 2.4 fouls per match while doing so, has earned him a spot on our list.
4. Kevin Durant
KD might feature in a lot of lists regarding his scoring, but did you expect him to feature on the defensive list? Well I did, as he is having a really strong season with the Warriors, and he is not slacking at the defensive end at all. While he might be posting a career-low 0.8 steals, it’s still a pretty respectable number. However, his defense has been raised to a new level this season, mostly for his ability to block shots.
Kevin Durant is averaging a career-high 2.0 blocks per game, while his 2nd best average in this category was 1.6 blocks last season.
However, he has emerged as a really dominant force on the defensive end this season, and he is currently sitting at the 3rd spot of the NBA’s best blockers. He is actually committing the most fouls per match in his career (2.3), but it’s the toll he has to pay in his attempt to block shots. As the Warriors usually play without a clear big man, KD is often found playing in the PF spot. That moves him slightly closer to the basket, where he is not slacking at all. He has been phenomenal this season, but when a player of his caliber signs with the best team in the NBA, this is what happens. He gets better in all aspects of his game, without hurting the team.
3. Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert was nothing special in his rookie season with the Utah Jazz, but the French product has turned out to be one of the elite defenders in the NBA. He blocked just 0.9 shots per match in his 45 matches in his rookie season, but that number went up to 2.3 the next season and has been going up ever since. Moreover, his offensive game has also been improved, as he is not a constant double-double threat, while he also swats at least 2.4 shots per match this season. He is not the most technical or talented of players, but he has trained extensively in his career. He is now considered one of the best, if not the most dominant, shot-blocker in the NBA.
While he has been bothered by injuries, mostly to his legs, Rudy Gobert is a really terrifying opponent around the rim. It is no joke that a lot of elite bigs struggle against him, but he also has his way with guards who try to make drives. Now that Hayward has left for Boston, Gobert enjoys a slightly bigger role in the offense, along with all the other players. However, having to divide Hayward’s usage rate between the rest of the squad has brought more defensive responsibilities to Gobert, who is averaging 2.4 blocks per match, which is good enough to be the best performance in the NBA so far. He recently returned from yet another injury, and he is going to have a monster season going forward.
2. Kawhi Leonard
Just to be clear here, I think that Kawhi Leonard could easily be at the top of this list, but he has yet to play a single match this season. That shouldn’t hurt his overall status as an elite defender, but the top spot belongs to a tenacious defender, who has also been solid this season. Kawhi Leonard has yet to play a full season in the NBA so far, and he has been a really strong defender throughout his career. He has consistently posted at least 1.7 steals per match after his rookie season, while he also blocks almost one shot per match.
While the blocks might not seem enough, Kawhi Leonard is one of the best defenders in the league, mostly because of his ability to avoid committing fouls. His defensive stats are impressive on their own, but when you combine them with just 1.8 personal fouls per match throughout his career, we might be talking about the best defender in the NBA. He has had really tough luck this season, as he is still working his way back from an injured quad. However, he is nearing a return to action this week, and he should be able to reclaim his spot as the league’s best defender. The Spurs have some extra hands to help on the offense this season, so Kawhi should be able to focus more on his defensive duties.
1. Draymond Green
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, Draymond Green was by far the biggest steal in the 2012 NBA draft. So many players were picked before him, but the Warriors are still rubbing their hands following his selection. He was known for his defensive prowess, but his game has sky-rocketed in the past 4 seasons. Besides steadily increasing his ppg, he now posts 7.1 assists per match, besides his massive defensive stats. He might be notorious for his ejections and foul play, but he still remains one of the strongest defenders in the league.
Now let’s take a look at why we picked him at the top of the list. Last season, Draymond Green averaged a whopping 2.0 steals per match, to go along with 1.4 blocks per match. This season his numbers have dipped a little bit, mostly because of how good Kevin Durant has been on the defensive end. Even so, he is still posting 1.5 steals per game and 1.3 blocks per game so far in the season, to go along with 7.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists. While there are other players with slightly better defensive stats this season, it is Draymond’s ability to guard much bigger men than him that landed him in the top spot. Standing at 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m), Draymond is extensively used as a Center in the Warriors’ small ball line-up. He is called to defend opposing Centers, but he succeeds in doing so, so that’s got to be good enough for the top of this list.