As we await the final results of the ECF to come in, the first of the NBA Awards were announced earlier this week, as the ten best defensive players were announced, with the first and second team.
Eric Bledsoe, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Rudy Gobert, and Marcus Smart
Whereas a lot of the all-NBA teams on offense have stopped following position protocol, we see a different trend here. There is a center and a point guard, with a two-guard and pair of forwards. It is very rare for one team to place two of the top five players, but here we stand. Though he logged just 41 games, many fans believe Lonzo to be a better defender than Bledsoe, but clearly the voters did not agree with that. The coolest part of this was seeing Marcus Smart finally get the recognition he deserves.
He has long been tearing it up in Boston, but the common fan can overrate his impact. He is always among the best in loose balls, charges taken, and is always in the right place in the right time. He can put the clamps down on just about any player in the league. Rudy Gobert deserved his spot, as he has been one of the best defensive bigs for three years. Paul George was getting buckets at will, but it was his stopping ability on the other side of the ball that guided OKC to their solid year. And Eric Bledsoe is phenomenal despite his short frame, using every inch of his impressive vertical to help.
Lastly we have Giannis, who can block or steal any pass or shot that is taken in his vicinity. He is nearly unstoppable on the defensive end, constantly creating opportunities for fast-breaks.
Jrue Holiday, Klay Thompson, Joel Embiid, Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard
The biggest surprise on this list has got to be Kawhi Leonard. We know he can score as well as anybody in the league, but it is also clearly true that defense is the biggest part of his game. He lost too many votes thanks to Eric Bledsoe, which is why he is right here. His postseason effort on that end has the Raptors just two wins away from the NBA Finals for the first time in their franchise history, and that is worthy of more consideration.
Jrue Holiday has been one of the best two-way players since his early-20’s seasons with the Sixers, so his spot here is very much deserved. Joel Embiid probably thinks he should place higher than Rudy Gobert, but a spot in this list is still impressive considering that he is just starting to adjust to playing some huge minutes.
Golden State brings two players to this list, with Klay Thompson finally getting the respect that he has always merited. He can stick with a player as well as anybody, and no shots against him can ever truly come easy. He has been killing it for years now, and this is the season he gets the recognition. And then we have Draymond Green, arguably the most versatile defensive player in the NBA. He has claimed himself to be the nest ever with regard to that, and you have to respect the confidence. He is 6’7 and protects the rim like a center. He can take a charge against anyone in the league, and boy does he have clamps. He could win the DPOY award in any given season, so a second-team nod gives him credit, but perhaps not enough.