The plaudits in any sport usually go to the players who do the scoring before anybody else. Here, we look to honour those who do the less glamorous jobs with a look at the best defensive players in the NBA this season.
Number 5. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
When you talk about the Golden State Warriors everyone defaults to talking about the best three-point shooter the NBA has seen in Steph Curry; that’s harsh on Draymond Green. Green’s biggest asset in the campaign was his ability on the defensive rebound; he collected near on 400 over the course of the campaign for a game average of 6.3.
On top of that the Warriors man recorded 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per match. At 31, he’s not the same physical specimen he once was but his reading of the court is up there with the best of them.
Number 4. Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
Next up on our list of the best defensive players in the NBA this season is the first of two Bucks, Jrue Holiday. Holiday, who has recently been announced as part of the defensive first team, has made public claims his rear guard performances are often overlooked and whilst we don’t entirely agree (he’s getting credit here after all) you also have to acknowledge that he might have a point.
He has tremendous ability going in both directions but you simply cannot underestimate the importance of 96 steals. Very few players can compete with that number.
Number 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
We’ve just looked at one Buck and now we come to another in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak – along with his team – saw their defensive displays worsen on last season throughout this campaign but it just goes to show how exceptional Antetokounmpo has been as he’s scooped the last two MVP awards.
Even with his ‘dip’ the former Filathlitikos player made the All-Defensive first team. That’s the third year running by the way. It should hardly come as a surprise; 9.4 defensive rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks is impressive and, whilst it’s not a particularly relevant stat for defense, 28.1 points per game can’t be ignored.
Number 2. Clint Capela, Atlanta Hawks
If Antetokounmpo’s rebounds deserve a pat on the back then we better get on our knees to worship the form Clint Capella has shown this year. He led the league with 14.3 rebounds per game with 9.6 of them classified as defensive contributions. It’s not just rebounds where the Hawks man has excelled though because his 2.0 blocks is good enough for a top three rank.
The biggest compliment we can throw Capela’s way is the fact that he’s transformed the Hawks defense since joining them in a trade from the Rockets; last season they had the worst record in the Eastern Conference but that hasn’t been the case in 2021 as they’ve shipped more than eight points fewer per match.
Number 1. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Our look at the best defensive players in the NBA this season is at an end it’s Jazz man Rudy Gobert that is deservedly sitting in first place. His team recorded the biggest points differential throughout the regular season and key to that was their defense that allowed just 107.2 against them per game; that’s second to only the Lakers in the ultra competitive Western Conference.
On a personal level, Gobert posted some decent numbers during the season with his career high of 2.7 blocks per game the standout – nobody else in the league came close. That said, 10.1 defensive rebounds is pretty staggering too. There is no surprise that he’s been named defensive player of the year.
There you have it, the best defensive players in the NBA this season. Learn more interesting facts about the NBA from TwinSpires, including the youngest players in the history of the competition.