In the NBA, determining the league's top defenders is often an incredibly difficult task. This is because superior defensive skills are still not completely understood by NBA executives much less fans.
Are blocks and steals what makes a player a good defender? Is it the ability to draw a charge? Or, is it merely putting pressure on the opposing player? Also, how much should defensive rebounds factor into the equation.
As of this time, it's hard to say what exactly is required of a great defensive basketball player. That said, I will now select the players whom I feel exhibit the best defensive characteristics in each of the relevant categories.
Without a doubt, there is no better perimeter defender in the NBA than Ron Artest. He's quick, strong, and extremely aggressive, and he has an extended history of containing the greatest offensive players in the game.
In fact, the great Michael Jordan has even gone on record raving about Ron's defensive ability, saying that he wishes he had the opportunity to face him because of his competitiveness. To me, there is no higher level of praise.
In the history of the NBA, there have been very few players who have dominated the paint like Tim Duncan. On the defensive end, Tim is close to perfect, and his perfect fundamentals and technique allow him to make a defensive impact even when he does not make the block.
As the statistics will show you, no one in the NBA steals the ball more than Chris Paul. His compact size and quickness allow him to get to the ball unlike any other, and his competitiveness allows him to maximize these attributes when going for the steal.
Simply stated, Chris Paul steals the ball more than anyone else in the game, and he does it big moments.
This season, Dwight has stepped up his game on the defensive end of the court. He currently leads the league in blocked shots per game, and he has become an absolutely dominant force inside the paint.
How many other players in the NBA do you know who could defend a star point guard or a star center in the same game? Jared Jeffries is a one-of-a-kind defender, who can truly do it all.
At 6'10", Jared Jeffries has been an incredibly tough matchup for some of the game's top point guards in the NBA this year. In addition, Jeffries size and quickness has generally allowed him to guard the best player on any opposing team, making him a valuable weapon for the Knicks.
However, because his offense has yet to catch up to his defense, few NBA fans know about Jeffries.
Mr. Double-double is the best defensive rebounder in the game today. In fact, in many games throughout the year, David Lee has eclipsed the 10-rebound mark before halftime!
Simply stated, David Lee is the best, only Dwight Howard comes close.
This was a tough one, but in the end, I had to give it to Anderson. As of this time, the Cavaliers are among the best teams in the league, and Anderson Varejao has been invaluable to them.
He may not put up big numbers, but Varejao draws the charge as well as anyone in the game, and as a result, the Cavs defense is among the league's best. Nate Robinson and Danny Granger deserve credit for their efforts in this category as well.
I may receive some criticism for this one, but I believe Lebron is currently the best off-ball defender in the game.
While his effort may not always be 100% when on his man, he has developed a habit of accumulating blocks and steals by jumping the passing lanes and crashing the boards just as the offensive player is going in for a layup.
While he may be known primarily for his offense, Lebron's off-the-ball defense has caused some experts to talk about him as the Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
Like most other star offensive players, Dwayne Wade does not give max-effort on defense throughout the course of a basketball game. However, in the final two minutes with the game on the line, there are few better defenders than Dwayne Wade.
Time and time again, Wade manages to make the key steal or stop in the final minute of a ball game.
There may be no better defensive leader in the history of basketball than Kevin Garnett. Prior to coming to Boston, the Celtics were among the worst defensive teams in the league.
However, once KG arrived, the team immediately became the best defensive team in the league, and a championship was won. While KG's personal defensive is great in itself, it is his leadership and communication skills that improves his team's defense.