5 Future Members of the NBA All-Defensive Team
If you look back at the history of the NBA's All-Defensive Team, one thing is clear. Very rarely do you find a player included that is a one-trick-pony. Players that are only great defenders rarely make the list.
Dikembe Mutombo, Bruce Bowen and Ben Wallace made the list multiple times. They made their money shutting the opposition down without offering much offensively.
While that is true, the overwhelming majority of players selected are the opposite. They are all-around great players whose defensive skills are usually their most overlooked asset.
So, when looking for future defensive studs, it makes sense to target players that are talented scorers, as well as defenders.
Here are predictions for five players that will one day be members of the NBA's All-Defensive Team.
5. Iman Shumpert
As a rookie, Iman Shumpert emerged as the New York Knicks' best on-ball defender and was routinely assigned to guard the opposition's best player.
That's quite an accomplishment for a first-year player, but Shumpert deserved it. He was able to disrupt the games of stars like Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade with his tenacity, and he had a knack for playing the passing lanes perfectly.
He totalled 101 steals in 59 games played and a 1.7 SPG average. That was good enough for seventh in the NBA.
Unfortunately, his season was cut short on April 29, when he tore his left ACL and lateral meniscus. The Knicks were never the same defensively.
It's still too early to know how Shumpert will come back from this injury. He was known as an explosive leaper, and it could certainly limit that. However, it's reasonable to assume that his defensive ability will not be affected.
He was already considered the best defender in his rookie class, and he'll only get better on the defensive end in years to come.
If he can come back from the injury and return to form, he could be a frequent member of the All-Defensive Team.
4. Ricky Rubio
Like Shumpert, Ricky Rubio's rookie year was cut short by a knee injury. He was in the midst of a season worthy of Rookie of the Year consideration too.
In fact, basketball insiders like Marc Stein of ESPN.com called him the heir apparent to Steve Nash and Jason Kidd.
Those comparisons are fair. Rubio certainly displayed a special ability to distribute the basketball and surprised many with his scoring prowess as well. Teamed with Kevin Love, he was influential in making the Minnesota Timberwolves one of the most exciting young teams too watch.
It's not hard to understand why he got so much attention. His ability on defense however did not get a lot of attention—but it should have. Rubio turned out to be a great perimeter defender last season.
According to the folks at NBAdraft.net, here's why:
Defensively, he plays with a lot of energy and puts in a great effort to put pressure on the opposing ball handlers … Quick hands and terrific anticipation allow him to get his hands on a lot of balls … His game is mature beyond his years due to the fact that he has played on the top senior level for a long time
Paul has made the All-Defensive Team twice in seven years. Rubio has the potential to do even better.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
ESPN's draft guru Chad Ford compared Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to players like Gerald Wallace and Metta World Peace. Both are great NBA defenders.
However, Ford also said that his ceiling was Scottie Pippen, one of the best defenders in NBA history.
He certainly has the traits of a great NBA defender. He rebounds and blocks shots well for his size and averaged a steal per game at Kentucky. He's also versatile enough to guard multiple positions.
More importantly, he displays a characteristic that all great defenders possess: tenacity. He prides himself at being the hardest worker on the court. Even if he lacked the skills, that attribute would put him ahead of many players who take time off on the defensive end.
He doesn't lack the skills, though. When you combine that with his work ethic, the potential is there for a truly special defensive player.
2. Andre Drummond
The Detroit Pistons were overjoyed when Andre Drummond fell into their laps with the ninth overall pick. He was the highest rated center in the draft. Visions of the next Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum were probably dancing in GM Joe Dumars' head.
Unfortunately, the possibility exists that Drummond might be the next Kwame Brown too. His measurables are off the chart, but questions linger about his motor.
The Pistons certainly think they have the real deal.
They are prepared to wait on his offensive game. It's a project, much like the 19-year old Drummond himself. However, his defensive game might not need that much work. Here's why.
He is seven feet tall, 280 lbs. and has a 7'6" wingspan. His body was constructed for two things: rebounding the basketball and blocking every shot that enters his general vicinity.
His sheer mass will also make players think twice about driving the lane.
His success in these areas depends on his maturation and work ethic, though. If the Pistons are able to foster both of those things, expect to see Drummond on the All-Defensive Team sooner than later.
1. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason. His athleticism and offensive versatility was extremely unique for a big man. He can shoot from the perimeter, run the floor and take the ball off the dribble like a guard.
Unlike a guard, he's 6'11" and has a 7'6" wingspan and is an elite rebounder and shot blocker.
He's also athletic enough to be able to guard multiple positions, and, like his former teammate, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he's got a great motor.
Davis is a bit of a project, though, so no one should be surprised if he doesn't set the world on fire his rookie year. After a rare eight-inch growth spurt his junior year in high school, he hasn't quite filled out his nearly seven-foot frame.
He needs to bulk up—as many rookies do—before he can reach his potential in the NBA. Because of that, he might struggle to defend bigger and stronger centers. For that reason, he'll likely play more minutes as a forward his rookie year.
Regardless of what position he plays, defense is Davis' strong suit right now. His offensive game will come around, but he has All-Defensive First Team in his near future. In fact, he has the best of chance of anyone to make the team his rookie year.
Davis has already said it's one of his goals this season—but it won't be easy. No rookie has ever done it in the history of the league. A few have made the second team, though: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Manute Bol, David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
Making the second team would certainly put him in hallowed company. He has the potential do that and more.