10 Best Defensive Players in the NBA
Slam dunks and long-range three-pointers may get all of the attention from casual sports fans, but strong defense is vitally important in the game of basketball. Contributions on defense can be hard to quantify and often go unnoticed by fans, but it is fairly easy to find the great defenders by closely watching each game. These are the 10 best defensive players in the NBA right now.
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks
Antetokounmpo's height and athleticism allow him to guard anyone on the court despite primarily playing the guard position. His long arms also help him deflect passes and block shots that other players could never touch.
9. LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James is not able to consistently play excellent defense like he could earlier in his career, but he still has the ability to shut down almost anyone when fully rested. His refusal to lose makes LeBron one of the top lockdown defenders late in the 4th quarter.
8. Patrick Beverley - Houston Rockets
Despite being shorter than almost everyone he guards, Patrick Beverley is a master at disrupting the rhythm of a shooter. His constant pressure and relentlessness helped Beverley be named to the NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team last year.
7. Andre Roberson - Oklahoma City Thunder
Andre Roberson is a key player on the Oklahoma City Thunder in spite of being one of the worst shooters in the league. Roberson never stops moving on defense, which helps him contest almost every shot. The Thunder allow over five points less per every 100 possessions just by having Andre Roberson on the court.
6. Chris Paul - Houston Rockets
Chris Paul's quick hands have helped him average over two steals a game throughout his 12-year career. Paul's excellent positioning on the court helps him slow down younger opponents and rack up five rebounds a game from the point guard position.
5. Robert Covington - Philadelphia 76ers
Robert Covington gets tasked with covering the opponent's best shooter every time he is on the court, but he was still able to hold them to 49 percent shooting at the basket last year. His 4.32 defensive real plus-minus also ranked third in the league.
4. Anthony Davis - New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis has the rare versatility to guard at the perimeter and deny shots at the rim, which is incredibly impressive for a center. Anthony Davis has already led the league in blocks twice in his young career, which has helped him accumulate 793 blocks in five years.
3. Rudy Gobert - Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert does not have the athleticism of Anthony Davis, but he has quickly become the premier shot blocker in the league. In addition to his 2.6 blocks per game, Gobert was also able to secure nearly 13 rebounds a game last season.
2. Draymond Green - Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green can shut down the league's top scorers with his excellent one-on-one defense, but he also excels at help defense. If Steph Curry or Klay Thompson are struggling to guard their man, then Green makes sure to backup his teammates to prevent an easy basket.
1. Kawhi Leonard - San Antonio Spurs
It is virtually impossible to get past Kawhi Leonard when he is guarding the perimeter. This forces teams to find new scoring options while Leonard is shutting down the best player on the court. Leonard's excellent one-on-one defense helped him win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2015 and 2016.