At the end of each and every NBA season, the league announces its first and second All-Defensive teams to the general public.
These teams consist of the players who are being recognized as the best defenders in the league at their respective positions. On a perennial basis, the same names seem to appear; Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and Jason Kidd are just a few of the players who never seem to fail to make this list.
However, there is one dangerous trend here that only the most serious and analytical basketball fans would tend to pick up; all of the alleged best defenders in the NBA are among the top offensive superstars in the game. While all of the aforementioned players are rather good defenders, this trend does allude to the issue that those who vote for the best defenders in the NBA rely quite heavily on name recognition and reputation as opposed to actual defensive success on the court.
For that reason, many of the league’s better defenders, such as Danny Granger, Anderson Varejao, Gerald Wallace, and Josh Smith do not get the recognition they deserve for their defensive prowess. With this in mind, I will now set forth an argument for the case that Jared Jeffries of the New York Knicks is the best defender currently in the NBA.
Unfortunately, the large majority of casual NBA fans judge defensive success through the statistics of blocks and steals. However, these two statistical categories, while undoubtedly important, only account for a very small percentage of defensive effort. Rather, the majority of individual defense takes place when a defender is matches with an offensive player one- on- one in an attempt to prevent them from scoring.
From that point forth, the defender must do anything from keeping the offender away from the basket to putting a hand in their face as they shoot in order to prevent them from making their shot. If the defender is successful in this endeavor, they thereby deserve credit for that defensive effort. Jared Jeffries does just that on a nightly basis, but to an extraordinary degree. While most players simply match up against the opposing player at their own position, Jared Jeffries is assigned to guard the opposing team’s absolute best player, regardless of position.
For example, although his official position in the Knicks’ starting lineup is center, Jeffries was recently assigned to guard Steve Nash when his team played the Suns. The end was result was that Nash had much more difficulty than usual making plays, and as a result the Knicks won a game that they were expected to lose. Furthermore, a few weeks back, the Knicks played against the New Orleans Hornets, and the 6’11” Jeffries was asked was asked to guard the diminutive and lightning quick Chris Paul. While speed guys such as Paul would normally destroy someone as tall as Jeffries, Jared had the quickness and awareness to keep up with Paul throughout the game. Once again, Jeffries’ effort resulted in a very unexpected Knicks’ win.
While there are other players in the NBA, such as Bruce Bowen, who have a similar responsibility to guard the opposing team’s best scorers, I firmly believe that it doesn’t compare to the responsibility the Jared carries for the Knicks. On the Spurs, Bruce Bowen is asked to guard either the shooting guard or small forward on the opposing team, depending on which is a more dangerous scorer. Jared, however, is asked to guard the best scorer, period, whether they are a point guard or a center.
At 6’11, Jared Jeffries has the height to effectively defend even the tallest of centers, while at the same time he has the quickness to stay in front of even the fastest point guards, as he has proven against Steve Nash and Chris Paul. Having a defender who can literally defend any position is a rarity in the NBA, and at this point I cannot recall another player who has ever been asked to defend the opposing team’s best player completely regardless of position. With this in mind, I believe that what Jared Jeffries does on the defensive end of the court is truly special.
However, Jared’s defensive prowess does not end with his success in one on one match-ups. Since being made a starter for the New York Knicks, Jared Jeffries has been one of the leagues best help defenders, and he routinely accumulates blocks and steals as a result of his help defense. Furthermore, and possibly most importantly of all, Jared Jeffries is arguably the best player in the NBA at drawing a charge.
When a defender draws the charge, the play stops immediately, and the defending team obtains the ball. For this reason, drawing the charge is much more important to a team’s success than a block or a steal, as even the best of blocked shots often allow the offensive team to get the ball back and try their shot again. Throughout the course of this season, I have seen Jared Jeffries draw as many as four or five charges in a single game, and he is always looking for the opportunity to do so every time the opposing team drives to the basket.
I believe that this ability should put Jared Jeffries among the defensive elite. However, because drawing a charge is not currently recognized by a defensive statistic, few fans and analysts around the country realize just how successful Jeffries is in this area.
With all of the aforementioned information in mind, I believe that Jared Jeffries deserves consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year Award at the end of this NBA season.