In the era of great scorers like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant, defense has become a lost art in the NBA. Defense is the anchor to a team’s success, and the best way to win a championship. In the last 5 seasons there have been great defenders in the league, so lets take a look at my top 5 defenders by position.
Center – Dwight Howard
The most dominant center in the league, most definitely makes it as the best defensive center in the last 5 seasons. His size along with his ability to block shots and grab rebounds makes him the most difficult center to score on. The amazing thing about Howard is that he doesn’t need to have decent pieces around him to play exceptional defense. He literally plays team defense by himself.
Power Forward – Kevin Garnett
Undoubtably one of the most passionate players who plays defense like its the last possession of every game, has to be one of the greatest defenders in the last 5 years. Garnett has the determination to keep himself at that level the entire game, and never once have I seen him give up on a play. He can play both perimeter and interior defense, but defending the paint is his specialty. Garnett is one of those players you watch the entire game, and don’t focus on much else. Watching him operate the defense the way he does is incredible.
Small Forward – LeBron James
No question LeBron is on of the best defenders of this era. His speed and size allows him to keep up with quicker players, and chase down players on the fast break to get a chance at blocking the layup. At times it almost seems effortless for him. When he decides to turn the switch on, its game over for his opponent.
LeBron is the only small forward that I know of that can defend point guards to power forwards. If there is one thing that sets him apart from Kobe and Durant, its that he can defend multiple positions. There are always knocks about how he doesn’t try, but it was clear throughout that playoff run, he wanted it more than anything, and his defense showed it.
Shooting Guard – Kobe Bryant
Known primarily for his offensive game, Kobe is actually a good defender as well. Like everyone who plays great defense, his speed and will makes him a great defender. He can lock down his man, and keep him from scoring at times. Kobe’s defense also creates his offense and the offense of his teammates. During this year, when his offensive game somewhat wavered, his defense didn’t. If he can continue to do that, his career can be extended if he doesn’t mind being more defensively oriented.
Point Guard – Chris Paul
Chris Paul is another player whose defense gets forgotten because of his offensive game. He led the league in steals this season with 152. Paul can shut down the most elite point guards in the game, and with his versatility he can keep up with the quicker guards. He’s also a very decent defensive rebounder, and for a player of his height to average nearly 260 defensive rebounds a season, that’s very impressive.
The players named above are known mostly for their offensive games, and their defense never gets the recognition it deserves. In the era where scoring gets you the most popularity, it’s defense that makes you the most valuable player on your team. A coach is always looking for a great defender. It just so happens that these 5 players above have also been some of the best offensive players in the last 5 seasons.