Although defense is often overlooked by NBA fans, it is crucial to a team's success. Much of these players' success does not appear in the box score. The problem with the box score is that the only defensive stats in a typical box score are blocks and steals. However, there are many other traits that make a great defender.
The way I will evaluate the best defenders is by using the Player Efficiency Ratings (PER) of the players they guarded throughout the 2011-2012 NBA season. In other words, I'm looking at the PER of the players they played against. The average PER for the 2011-2012 season was 13.5.
All of these stats can be found at www.82games.com.
Average Player Efficiency Rating for Point Guards during the 2011-2012 season: 13.4
1. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtic - PER Against: 10.7
Rondo stuffs the stat sheet on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
2. Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics - PER Against: 11.5
The second-year man out of The University of Texas has been turning some heads with his end-to-end defensive abilities.
3. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers - PER Against: 13
Paul not only shut down his opposition, but he also lead the NBA in steals, with nearly 2.5 per game.
4. Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks - PER Against: 14.5
Along with Tyson Chandler, the talented rookie helped turn the Knicks into a formidable defensive team.
5. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls - PER Against: 11.9
Rose would most likely be higher on this list had he played more regular season games, but he still was a top-tier defender while he was on the court.
Average Player Efficiency Rating for shooting guards during the 2011-2012 NBA season: 12.59
1. Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat - PER Against: 10.2
The former finals MVP averaged 1.3 blocks per game, way above any other player at his position.
2. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics - PER Against: 10.3
Ray Allen was a main reason the Celtics were the second best defensive team in the regular season, even at the age of 36.
3. Ronnie Brewer, Chicago Bulls - PER Against: 11.1
Brewer was brought in to be a defensive stopper, and he was exactly that throughout the 2011-2012 season.
4. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers - PER Against: 12.2
Kobe is an all-time great on both ends of the floor, and although his defense has diminished in recent years, he is still one of the best defenders in the league.
5. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks - PER Against: 11.1
Joe Johnson had a surprisingly great defensive year for the Hawks.
Average Player Efficiency Rating of small forwards during the 2011-2012 season: 11.96
1. Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers - PER Against: 9.2
A first-time All-star in 2012, Iguodala proved to be a very good all-around player.
2. LeBron James, Miami Heat - PER Against: 10.6
The most valuable player in 2012 was spectacular in all facets of the game, and he is clearly the best all-around player in the league today.
3. Shane Battier, Miami Heat - PER Against: 11.1
Although Battier has struggled at times during the postseason, he was as good as they come during the regular season on defense.
4. Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls - PER Against: 11.6
Another first-time All-star in 2012, Deng helped carry the Bulls while Derrick Rose was out with injuries for most of the season.
5. Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers - PER Against: 12.2
The controversial Laker had an up and down season on the offensive end, but he always brought his A-game on the defensive side of the ball.
Average Player Efficiency Rating of power forwards during the 2011-2012 season: 14.47
1. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder - PER Against: 12.3
The runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year was outstanding all year on the defensive end, averaging a league best 3.65 blocks per game.
2. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks - PER Against: 14.1
Smith was fantastic again in 2011-2012 averaging nearly 1.8 blocks per game.
3. Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers - PER Against: 14.3
The fourth overall pick in last years draft proved that he was more than competent on the defensive end.
4. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers - PER Against: 14.6,
The seven-footer from Spain is often bigger than his counterpart, which gives him an advantage on the defensive end.
5. Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic - PER Against: 14.9
The fantastic three-point shooter is also a defensive stopper.
Average Player Efficiency Rating of centers during the 2011-2012 season: 12.7
1. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic - PER Against: 12.1
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year had another phenomenal year on defense, averaging just over two blocks per game.
2. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks - PER Against: 13.4
The Defensive Player of the Year in 2011-2012 was the catalyst in helping the Knicks become a formidable defensive team.
3. Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers - PER Against: 13.7
Bynum has turned into the second best center in the NBA by becoming great on both ends of the floor.
4. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs - PER Against: 13.2
Duncan is the greatest power forward of all-time, but in recent years he has turned into one of the best all-around centers in the game.
5. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics - PER Against: 14.5
Garnett is another guy who has excelled once he moved from power forward to center.