The NBA has seen dozens and dozens of outstanding defenders, either able to lock down the paint or protect the rim, or just suffocate the hell out of the best offensive backcourt players to force turnovers and make them be uncomfortable from the jump ball.
Of course, most fans tend to prefer to watch all the firepower they can handle, enjoying killing crossovers, poster dunks and shots from beyond the arc, but there’s absolutely no doubt that what can lead you to the ultimate stage of the Association is team effort and defense.
Even though offensive beasts like James Harden take most of the headlines nowadays, there are some top-notch defenders in the NBA that need to be praised as much as the best scorers, leaving it all on the hardwood on a nightly basis to try and prevent opponents from scoring. Tonight, we’ll let you know about some of them.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Paul, John Wall
Danny Green has made a name for himself as an unidimensional scorer, spending 99% of the time beyond the three point line, where he’s been as inconsistent as it can be, but has managed to stay on the court due to his outstanding defense.
Green’s lateral speed is off the charts and he’s perhaps the best defender in the entire league when it comes to fast breaks, constantly making players struggle and miss despite being alone on their way to the rim. Taking charges, hand checking and you name it, Green has earned his spot in the best franchise in the league.
Andre Iguodala was one of the most versatile and athletic scorers in the Association not so long ago, but he’s given up most of his shots in the run and gun fast paced Golden State Warriors offense to work more as a ball handler and of course, play defense.
Iguodala is one of the league’s most underrated and pesky defenders, and his defense against LeBron James is the main reason why he won the NBA Finals MVP distinction a couple of seasons ago, being a proven team player that would easily sacrifice personal glory in favor of the team.
Trevor Ariza is the ultimate 3&D player and he’s been doing so since entering the league, even being one of the most underrated -yet helpful- pieces in the Los Angeles Lakers during their 2009 Championship run.
Just like Danny Green, Ariza’s lateral speed and ability to stop fast breaks make him an elite defender and he constantly takes James Harden’s guy to free the Beard from his defensive duties, where he’s been horrid since day one.
Not so long ago, DeAndre Jordan was just another clumsy center that wasn’t too skilled and made a living out of his athleticism and physique, but it’s pretty safe to say that he’s developed his game to become one of the best big men in the league nowadays.
Besides being a terrific rebounder and even an underrated passer, Jordan has blossomed to be an elite rim protector, locking down the paint for Doc Rivers squad and being a very interesting trade asset for a team looking for a huge presence below the rim.
Since entering the league, the lone reason why Tony Allen’s been setting his feet on an NBA hardwood is because he’s one of the best defenders in the history of the game, despite being perhaps one of the worst offensive players you’ll ever see.
Tony Allen is a guy that may miss a wide open layup and brick a couple of freebies, but he’s also can drive the best scorers in the league nuts, being as annoying as he can and having the quickest pair of hands in the Association.
Avery Bradley was the biggest snub in this year’s All-Defense squad, and even several NBA players had their say about it, as he’s emerged as one of the league’s best defenders and one of the main reasons why Brad Stevens’ system was so successful.
Now, as a member of the Detroit Pistons, Avery will thrive guarding three different positions, trying to earn a lot of dough at the end of the year when he’ll be eligible to sign a huge paycheck as one of the league’s most skilled two-way players.
Besides DeAndre Jordan, the Los Angeles Clippers put their hands in another elite defender when they landed Patrick Beverley in that Chris Paul sign and trade deal, as Beverley’s known to be one of the peskiest and suffocating defenders in the Association.
Being able to play off the ball and not sucking from beyond the arc, Beverley is actually a vastly underrated player, and he’s set to be the worst nightmare of James Harden in any upcoming Clippers - Rockets matchup from now on.
It seems like Draymond Green has been around for ages now, because of the leadership he has on and off the court and all the veteran moves and crafty ways of doing things he’s developed since taking the starting PF spot in the Golden State Warriors.
Green is a walking triple double, and outstanding passer and very smart player, but his greatest feature has to be the fact that he’s a team-first kind of player that won’t hesitate to give up a shot to make a better play and the fact that he’s actually skilled enough to guard all 5 positions with great ease.
Rudy Gobert went from being an unknown tall player to being considered one of the best centers in the NBA, improving his offensive skill set while also being the best rim protector in the entire Association with his ability to swat shots as if he was playing against toddlers.
With Gordon Hayward’s departure, the Utah Jazz is now Gobert’s team, so we must expect him to get a lot of touches on the offensive end this year and keep developing as a perennial All-Star for the future.
And last but not least, we have to name the best two way player in the game right now: Kawhi Leonard, as he went from being an uni-dimensional player to become one of the most versatile, skilled and prolific scorers in the Association.
There are definitely some MVPs coming Kawhi’s way, as he’s managed to become as dominant on offense as he is on defense, and there’s absolutely no player in the world that can get past him at this point, being something like the modern era’s Scottie Pippen.