There is little doubt that defense in basketball is among the most ambiguous and least understood aspects of any sport in the world.
While any serious basketball fan can easily point out who the best scorers, rebounders, and play-makers are in the NBA, few fans can intelligently speak of the NBA players who exhibit the greatest defense.
In my last article, I identified 10 NBA players who I felt exhibited the greatest level of ability in each defensive aspect of the game. The response that I receIved in turn was strong, as while many agreed with some or all of my picks, others had a very different conception of what makes a good defender.
With that said, I will now identify my NBA All- Defensive Starting Five. For this team, I will select the player that I feel is the greatest overall defensively at each basketball position.
This was a tough one, but in the end I had to give it to the Kidd.
Through his career, Jason has averaged over two steals a game, almost seven rebounds a game, and he has been named to the All-NBA First Defensive Team quite a few times.
Even though he's getting up there in age, I still believe that he is the best defensive point guard in the NBA.
If I made this list last year, I likely would have selected either Kobe Bryant or Raja Bell as the best shooting guard in the NBA.
However, this year has been very, very different.
Thus far in the season, Dwayne Wade has had one of the better defensive seasons that I have ever seen from a superstar-caliber player, other than maybe a center.
As of this point in the season, Wade is averaging 2.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per game as well as 5.1 rebounds. Even more importantly, Wade's defense continually rises to the occasion at the end of games.
If it was up to me, I would strongly consider naming Dwayne Wade the Defensive Player of the Year.
While I could certainly list some statistics that would help make my case for this selection, Ron Artest's true value lies in his intangibles on defense.
Artest is arguably the toughest perimeter defender in the league, and he always is assigned to guard the best player on the opposing team. Furthermore, he has the ability to create turnovers, and frequently gets into the head of opposing star players.
He already has a Defensive Player of the Year award under his belt, and I wouldn't be too surprised if he finds himself with another.
Kevin Garnett is certainly very deserving of this selection. While the fact that Kevin averages over a steal and a block per game as well as 8.5 rebounds is impressive, it is Garnett's ability to transform a team's defense that makes him so valuable on this under-appreciated end of the court.
When Kevin came over to the Boston Celtics, for example, they were arguably the worst defensive team in the league. However, once Garnett arrived in New England, they immediately became the best defensive team in the league.
Coincidence? I think not.
Anyone who would like to argue with this pick would certainly have a tough time doing so. As of this time of this writing, Dwight Howard leads the league with three blocks per game and 13.9 rebounds per game.
Furthermore, Dwight is an absolute force at the center position, as his presence constantly changes the way that the opposition shoots and attacks the rim, which benefits the Magic defense in inexplicable ways.
This year, Dwight Howard is a solid candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, and I don't think there's any doubt that he is the league's best defensive center.