No one finds high-scoring D-Leaguers quite like the Golden State Warriors.
Don Nelson summoned undrafted rookie Anthony Morrow and then watched him drop 37 points on the L.A. Clippers in his NBA debut.
Clippers call-up Mike Taylor also went bananas from the field in his first NBA regular season showing.
Wannabe scoring champs are a dime a dozen, and you can find an anxious shot jacker at any college, or on any D-League squad.
Players who excel at frustrating these ball-chucking dynamos are as difficult to unearth as any athlete in any sport.
Since most college standouts learn and play zone defense with frequency, they come to the NBA unprepared for the stronger, more athletic, and faster ballers they will face.
In the pros, man-to-man coverage often becomes as vital to success as team defense.
What flies in college stays on the tarmac in the NBA. You can get away with defenselessness here...if you play with the Warriors.
With that in mind, who are some of the league's most bothersome defenders?
Which players merit a toast for their preparation and skill on the uphill end of the court?
I put the following list in alphabetical, not numerical order. Consider this piece a sampler of stupendous stoppers at all five positions.
Here's the list.
His defensive game includes more tricks than a rodeo clown at a magic show.
Many fans loathe the Brazilian forward's propensity to flop, and he does fall on his butt at least twice a game.
His frenetic banging has also been a major part of the Cleveland Cavaliers' surge up the defensive standings in recent years. He rebounds well in crowds, isn't afraid to issue a stern warning to his opponent via a shove, and will gladly do the dirty work LeBron James can't.
His ability to help has improved greatly since Cleveland's last and first trip to the NBA Finals in 2007.
He looks like a certain diabolical character on The Simpsons. He plays like that guy would on the defensive end, too.
This defensive minded young man from UCLA has been a sight for sore eyes in Denver.
Even as the rudderless Nuggets continue a freefall from the second spot, Afflalo continues to expend energy on the defensive end.
Denver needs Kenyon Martin and George Karl to be special, but at least this kid has not surrendered on the uphill end.
Afflalo was brought in to replace departed free agent Dahntay Jones, and his value becomes obvious anytime he takes a turn against an All-Star talent.
In his first years as a pro, Howard was content to sell out on his man if he could not swat away a dunk or a layup attempt from the weak side.
He allowed mediocre players to lull him out of proper defensive position. He also committed silly fouls instead using his disruptive length to force them into lower-percentage shots.
Now? Howard looks more like the complete interior defender he needs to be for Orlando to taste success in the championship round.
His reputation as a hacker sometimes precedes him, which leads referees to stick him with ticky-tac fouls that limit his minutes and effectiveness.
Whereas Stan Van Gundy's sideline comments a few years ago would have focused on what Howard could do better as a defender, he now manages to pause for some congratulations.
During a recent TNT telecast in which he was mic'd up, Van Gundy could be heard saying this on consecutive possessions: "nice job Dwight. No, great job Dwight."
He still delivers some of the most spectacular sendbacks in the business, but he now realizes that adequate low-post defense requires more than leaping ability and long arms.
Nice work indeed.
Wallace ranks as one of the game's finest and most underappreciated two-way performers.
When the versatile forward is at his defensive best so are the vexatious Charlotte Bobcats.
He remains only the third player behind David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon to average two blocks and two steals per game in a single season.
His "Crash" nickname seems apt, considering that he has battled another nagging injury in recent weeks.
This frequent state of hurt comes from his careless practice of throwing his body around the court.
He does it because he cares about his team finishing on the right side of the final score.
If the L.A. Lakers' stars could make a list of players they would want to avoid in the playoffs, Wallace might top it.
Thankfully for Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the pesky Bobcats have no chance of making the NBA Finals.
A talented defender with terrible habits, Bryant often allows fringe rotation players like Quentin Richardson to toast him.
What he will not do is give ground to players he considers his equal. Sic him on Joe Johnson or LeBron James, and he focuses on the assignment like a family death.
Like his other star peers, he gets caught ballwatching and loses track of his man. That creates havoc in the Laker defense and forces teammates to make on-the-fly adjustments.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, and Brandon Roy would also make an expanded list. I included all of the star players on one slide, since they are guilty of many of the same defensive sins.
Few players make better clutch plays on the defensive end than a healthy Ginobili.
The Argentine does whatever necessary in the endgame, from swiping errant passes, to using his magnificent anticipation, to blocking breakaway dunks.
No wonder, then, that any numerical examination of players' defensive values ranks Ginobili in the top five.
Rondo's thievery in the lane has been a rare bright spot for the slumping Boston Celtics.
If the defense from the celebrated "Big Three" of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett has looked prehistoric, Rondo's never does.
His adhesive single coverage keeps most point guards from dominating in the paint and often leads to easy buckets.
He recently broke the Celtics single season steals record and continues to drag Boston's fading hopes with him every trip down the court.
Where would the aging Celts be without youngsters Rondo and Kendrick Perkins' excellent defensive play?
He still cracks the list, but his defensive legend reads more like a tall tale than a work of nonfiction.
His wack-job mentality allows him to bully diaper soft players into submission. With a few bumps and some trash talk, Artest takes the softies out of the game.
His standing has slipped a bit, along with his ability to suffocate power players. The Lakers brought him into harrass James and Carmelo Anthony, and he has struggled to fulfill that duty.
He still plays the passing lanes, anticipates opponent miscues, and uses his brutish strength to overpower skinny pipsqueaks as well as any defender.
If you feel compelled to place Yao Ming on a worst defenders list, perhaps you should take note of how far the Houston Rockets have fallen without him manning the middle.
Only seven other teams allow foes to shoot a higher percentage. The Rockets rank in the bottom half in points allowed.
The one constant that gives them a chance to return as an elite defensive unit: the consummate professional Battier.
He scours scouting reports, watches hours of tape, and then executes his defensive game plan. He'll do anything from taking a charge, to blocking a layup, to forcing a turnover, to drawing an offensive foul.
That he leads the undersized Rockets in blocked shots highlights how much the team needs Yao and another defensive-minded seven footer.
I needed to make sure you were still paying attention.
The trade that sent Sefolosha from Chicago to Oklahoma City was met with a shrug by most observers. They had not seen his value as a Bull.
Since GM Sam Presti acquired the Swiss guard just before the 2009 trade deadline, the Thunder has shot up the defensive rankings, going from 27th in opponent field goal percentage to sixth!
While no one can place all of the blame for that dramatic improvement on Sefolosha alone, his ability to cover elite players at three positions has certainly helped.
The caliber of OKC's recent victims are also impressive. The Thunder embarrassed the defending champion Lakers at the Ford Center, beat the Celtics in Boston, and halted the Mavericks in Dallas.
While folks tend to overrate his man-to-man defense, no one should underestimate the value of his help on pick-and-rolls.
In the last month and few days, the Spurs have toppled the Thunder, Cavaliers, Celtics, Magic, and Lakers.
That impressive resume would not have been possible with Duncan's late heroics.
He can still change shots with his active hands, and he does not need hops to erase a few of them each game.
Duncan may be in decline, but he remains one of the best endgame defenders at his position.
That makes the Spurs a dangerous first round opponent for anyone.
The following players also merit mention as standout defenders.
NOTE: Players I namedropped on other slides do not appear here (Perkins, James, Roy)
Did I leave anyone out?