There’s absolutely no way to win an NBA Championship without a strong defense that’s willing to hustle, work together and put their bodies on the line on every single possession, and it doesn’t matter how much firepower you’ve got, you just aren’t going to win without defense in the most competitive league in the world.
And that’s one of the main reasons why the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are always at the top of basketball, as they feature outstanding team defense, as well as a well rounded up offense, something not much teams, z can brag about.
Over the first couple of NBA regular season weeks, we’ve seen good and bad things happen so far, with teams making impressive statements and upsetting their rivals, but with other teams getting completely smacked in the defensive end as well.
Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 5 defensive starting lineups in the Association right now, hoping they can figure things out and turn their seasons around if they intend to compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the campaign.
5. Detroit Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond
The Detroit Pistons recently acquired one of the best and most versatile defenders in the league in Avery Bradley, but they haven’t been able to click altogether defensively so far, even though Stanley Johnson’s work on the team is pretty much focused on that.
Andre Drummond has never been much of a rim protector nor a good pick and roll player, and we all know Reggie Jackson isn’t even trying. Harris, on the other hand, is very good and active in passing lanes, but the team still has 123 defensive rating and a net rating of -18.8 points, meaning they get outscored by almost 19 points when all five are on the court.
4. Brooklyn Nets: Caris LeVert, D’Angelo Russell, Demarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Timofey Mozgov
The Brooklyn Nets are a clear example of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as they league the league in points per game at 121.2, but also trail pretty much everybody when it comes to defensive rating, allowing 140, 121, 104, 125 and 107 points so far.
Caris LeVert is only in the rotation due to Jeremy Lin’s injury, while neither D’Angelo Russell or Timofey Mozgov have been known to be talented or committed defenders. Surprisingly, neither Demarre Carroll or Rondae-Hollis Jefferson haven’t been able to make a defensive impact when paired.
3. New York Knicks: Ramon Sessions, Tim Hardaway Jr, Courtney Lee, Enes Kanter, Kristaps Porzingis
The New York Knicks have been a complete disaster so far this season and a huge part of it has been the constant no-shows from their starters, an experimental squad that just doesn’t fit properly altogether and it’s even kind of painful to watch.
Lee’s no longer the defensive standout he used to be, Kanter has always been unable to stop anybody and neither Sessions or Hardaway are gifted defenders. This lineup has one of the worst offensive ratings at 78.2 points scored while allowing 97.9, a -19.7 point differential.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns
The fact that this lineup is featured on this list is one of the biggest surprises in the NBA season so far, as the Timberwolves acquired standout defenders in Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, a couple of guys used to thrive in the defensive end under Tom Thibodeau’s system, but that haven’t been able to turn around the Timberwolves defensive woes.
Despite featuring 3 very good defenders and a couple of decent ones, this lineup has been not just a spacing nightmare, but also a very bad defensive team, allowing over 100 points in every one of their matchups so far including back to back defeats allowing 130 and 122 respectively.
1. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr, Brook Lopez
This lineup hasn’t been particularly bad at anything, but that hasn't been very good either, with the young Los Angeles Lakers still trying to figure out what they need to do in order to stay competitive while letting their prospects develop.
Lonzo Ball is never going to be much of a good defender, and besides Ingram’s length and Nance’s blocks, there’s not much to say about the purple and gold in the defensive end this season, owning a -5.5 points differential so far, although they’ve been improving a lot since the prior campaign.