Who are the top 5 defenders in the NBA?

Who are the top 5 defenders in the NBA?

Scoring has captured the NBA spotlight in 2023, the teams that make it to the top still play defense

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In this current era of NBA basketball, it’s all about who can shoot and dominate on the offensive end of the court. The days of lockdown defenders have disappeared and been replaced by terms like, “it’s a make or miss league.” With all the scoring we’ve seen this season, that’s all it is. Boston recently gave up 150 points to the OKC Thunder, and the Celtics are one of the association’s best defensive teams. And that was 150 points yielded to OKC without their best player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who is averaging over 30 points per game. The night before that Thunderous outburst by OKC, Donovan Mitchell dropped a career-high 71 points on the Bulls.

With that said, there are still a few guys who make their living on the defensive end and even some who are considered two-way mavens. Although defense has become a lost art in some respects, these players exemplify what all NBA players should strive for on defense. But it’s not all based on stats. There’s also heart, hustle, leadership, and the eye test.

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5. Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

5. Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

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The reigning defending Defensive Player of the Year hasn’t had quite the same year but is still the best defender on the team with the best record in the association.

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Smart (cont’d)

Smart (cont’d)

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The Celtics are also top seven in defensive rating, and Smart is still one of the best at doing the dirty work. He fights, scraps, and dives on the floor for loose balls like he’s still fighting for a roster spot. Smart is constantly improving as an all-around point guard but knows where his bread is buttered. That’s on the defensive end of the floor.

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4. Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers

4. Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers

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Had the Nets known what they were giving up when they sent Allen packing, they might have reconsidered and found a way to keep him on the roster.

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Allen (cont’d)

Allen (cont’d)

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Allen’s size, strength, and defensive prowess have helped shape the Cleveland Cavaliers into the best defensive team in the league. Their 108.5 defensive rating leads the league, largely due to what Allen does on the interior.

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3. Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies

3. Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies

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Dillon Brooks flies under the radar due to playing with Ja Morant. Morant isn’t some defensive stopper, but he’s so spectacular at what he does with the ball in his hands that everything else in Memphis is overshadowed in many ways. The Grizzlies are an outstanding team on the defensive end, and Brooks leads that charge with his do anything to win attitude.

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Brooks (cont’d)

Brooks (cont’d)

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Dillon Brooks has the highest defensive win share of any wing player not named Kawhi Leonard but has played more than double the number of games as “the claw” this season.

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2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

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Embiid is so much more than a force on the offensive end, he’s the best two-way center in the NBA, and for some, he’s the best overall defender. While that is certainly up for debate, his presence inside cannot be ignored.

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Embiid (cont’d)

Embiid (cont’d)

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Joel the “troll” is currently third in the NBA in DWS, trailing only Leonard and Jaren Jackson Jr., who has missed significant time early in the season. Embiid is also one of the NBA’s top shot blockers averaging 1.7 per game.

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1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

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The race between one and two was close, but when factoring in head-to-head matchups and the fact that Giannis gets the best of Joel more often than not, this selection became a no-brainer. There’s a reason why Antetokounmpo is viewed as the best player in the league by many. He’s one of the better two-way players in the NBA regardless of position, and since he’s technically not a center, he makes this list at No. 1 ahead of Embiid. He ranks fifth in DWS, and that’s while playing in the same frontcourt with Brook Lopez, who leads the league in blocks with 2.6 per game.

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Antetokounmpo (cont’d)

Antetokounmpo (cont’d)

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Possessing the ability to defend all over the court sets the “Greek Freak” apart. He’s never shied away from defending any position and does it from the perimeter down to the low post. What makes this even more impressive is the offensive load he carries for his team while also being the premier defender in the league.

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