When you think of what skills you would ideally want in a point guard, ball handling, assists and scoring ability probably come to mind.
Defense is not exactly at the top of the list.
If a point guard exhibits truly outstanding defensive skills in today’s NBA, people rave about the ability but treat it almost as a bonus feature.
After all, Steve Nash won two MVP awards in his career and he has never been a defensive force.
Their defensive skills are far above average and make them a staple of the league’s first and second All-Defensive Teams.
So who is willing to take their game to another level? Which point guards make you think that the other team’s ball handler is going to have a night to forget?
Here are the six best point guards the NBA has to offer as far as defense is concerned.
Collison's defense was big for the Pacers against the Orlando Magic in the playoffs
Darren Collison was one of the biggest X-factors for the Indiana Pacers last season.
His commitment to play defense by pressuring opposing point guards was a big reason why the Pacers beat the Orlando Magic in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
His numbers don’t jump off the page; he was only 19th among point guards in steals per game last season.
But there is far more to Collison’s defense than just statistics. That's why I think Indiana made a mistake in trading him to the Mavericks for backup center Ian Mahinmi.
I agree with the notion that Collison will be a major upgrade for the Mavs this year now that Jason Kidd has left for the allure of Manhattan.
The Mavericks made a smart acquisition by adding Collison and could become one of the NBA’s Top 10 defensive teams with the fourth-year veteran on the roster.
Sometimes a player’s value to the team is felt even more in his absence, and that is certainly the case with Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.
Rose’s defense improved a lot last season as Chicago allowed the least amount of points in the league during the lockout-shortened campaign.
None the less, the Bulls collapsed last season without Rose on the court and fell to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs after their point guard tore his ACL in Game 1.
The Bulls are saying all the right things for now, but they will have a steep mountain to climb as they face the challenge of playing without their best playmaker for a good portion of the 2012-13 season.
Deron Williams was one of the most sought after free agents this past offseason, and the Brooklyn Nets let out a huge sigh of relief when they got him to stay.
Williams is an elite point guard that will have to answer a lot of questions this year as he attempts to lead the Nets to the playoffs.
With that in mind, his defense should certainly be an asset for Avery Johnson’s team.
The 28-year-old veteran is very adept at fighting through screens, contesting shots and guarding the other team’s best guard.
Williams has been compared to Chris Paul throughout his career, but so far it seems like CP3 has been able to instill more of an impact on the defensive end.
Lifting his defense to the next level might be the best weapon in Deron’s arsenal to establish himself as not only one of the best, but the best point guard in the NBA.
His hustle and ability to get in his opponent’s face will always be of value for any team he plays for.
This is especially true for the Toronto Raptors, the team he was traded to from Houston during the offseason.
His ability to wreak havoc and create turnovers (he averaged 1.6 steals per game last season) will bolster a defense that was 28th in the league at forcing turnovers during the 2011-12 season.
Lowry doesn’t shrink in the moment and plays his best defense when the situation calls for it the most.
Jose Calderon was the Raptors’ starting PG last season, playing in 53 games, but his backups Anthony Carter and Jerryd Bayless were hardly a challenge for the Spaniard.
That will all change this season as Lowry looks to leave his mark north of the border and will compete with Calderon for a starting spot in Toronto’s backcourt.
CP3 and Blake Griffin anchor the Clippers defense
Paul became the first Clipper in franchise history to be named to the NBA’s first team All-Defensive team last season.
This was the second time that CP3 had earned that honor, having done so before in the 2008-09 season, when he was still with the New Orleans Hornets.
Paul was also second team All-Defense in the 2007-08 and 2010-11 seasons, highlighting his consistency as an elite defender throughout his career.
The main reason for that distinction is that Paul led the league in steals last year with 2.53 per game, something made possible by his outstanding awareness and footwork on the defensive end.
While Chris Paul might have been named to the All-Defensive first team in the 2011-12 season, and Rajon Rondo settled for second team honors, there is no point guard I would trust more than Rondo with the game on the line.
Rondo’s intensity and fearlessness are unmatched by any other point guard in the NBA.
But what sets him apart is his willingness to defend anybody, anytime.
Rondo goes all-out, is willing to sacrifice his body for every loose ball. He averaged 1.8 steals per game last season (tied for sixth best in the NBA) and always seems to be one step ahead of his opponent.
Boston’s GM Danny Ainge recently praised the 26-year-old point guard’s leadership.
It seems like after years of turbulent trade rumors, the Celtics are finally ready to become Rondo’s team for years to come.