The last couple seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers have established themselves as one of the best defensive teams in the NBA on their way to winning back-to-back championships. Considering their defensive success the last couple of seasons, the Lakers have many talented defensive players.
Players such as Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant, and Matt Barnes are considered to be some of the best individual defenders in the game. So who is the best defensive player on the Lakers? Who is the worst? Let's go to the slideshow for the results.
It is too early to tell if Ebanks or Caracter have any true defensive potential. Both players are expected to spend some time in the Developmental League this season. Hopefully the youngsters can hone their defensive fundamentals before getting extended minutes in the NBA.
With that being said, it appears as though Devin Ebanks has the physique and athleticism to potentially be a good perimeter defender.
While Vujacic's defense may not be considered good, it can certainly be considered pesky. When Vujacic is on the court, which is rare, his pesky style of play often drives opposing players crazy. That has resulted in the opposition receiving technical fouls.
Luke Walton's lack of pure physical talent and athleticism keep him from being a great defender. However, Walton is a smart, hard-working player.
Walton's understanding of fundamentals and Phil Jackson's system make up for his lack of physical talent. This is why Walton is not completely-and-totally vulnerable on the defensive end.
So far this season, it appears Shannon Brown is more confident than ever. Brown has a better understanding of his role this season, in addition to having a better understanding of the triangle offense. These breakthroughs on the offensive end are leading to early season improvements in Brown's defense, which has been hit or miss the last couple of seasons.
Although he is low in the defensive rankings now, if he continues his improvement this season, Brown could be much higher on the totem pole by the season's end.
One of the biggest vulnerabilities of the Lakers the last few seasons has been point guard defense. Derek Fisher has been criticized for his trouble guarding quicker players. Some of the criticism Fisher receives is warranted. Some is not.
Fisher is not the first point guard in the NBA to have trouble guarding Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook. However, Fisher is a year older and his trouble guarding certain players is a concern for the Lakers. However, Fisher's veteran caginess often leads him to tipping balls and getting in the passing lanes for steals at opportune times.
Considering Theo Ratliff is playing alongside Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, he is not going to get many minutes this season. However, Ratliff has been an exceptional defender throughout the course of his 15-year career. Ratliff made the All-NBA Defensive Second Team in 1998-99.
It is nice to know the Lakers have a reliable defender if Ratliff is forced into action.
Overall, Steve Blake is a sound defensive point guard. Blake brings more toughness to the table for the Lakers this season. Blake takes pride in his defense and will not back down from many matchups.
If Fisher's aging body becomes too much of a vulnerability on the defensive end, Blake is well-suited to fill the void.
Lamar Odom will not be winning Defensive Player of the Year any time soon. However, Odom is not a terrible defender. It's just that his offensive abilities overshadow his above average defense. In addition, Odom is the Lakers' best overall rebounder.
Odom got a lot of experience this past summer playing in the FIBA World Championships as the team's center. This gave him a lot of experience guarding bigger, stronger players. This international experience should improve Odom's overall defense.
Much Like Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol's defensive work is often overshadowed by his superior offensive ability. One of the biggest knocks against Gasol since coming to the Lakers has been his lack of physical defense.
However, the last two NBA Finals, against the Magic and Celtics, Gasol has used his length to do a stellar job defending Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett.
Andrew Bynum is far and away the Lakers best, most-physical post defender. What Odom and Gasol lack in physicality, Bynum makes up for. As well as Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol play together, they are sometimes vulnerable against physical teams and players.
That is why when Bynum is healthy, the Lakers are nearly unbeatable.
Matt Barnes is a great perimeter defender. The Lakers became a better all-around defensive team when they signed him during the off season.The Lakers now have Barnes to go along with Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant, three of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA.
If the Lakers face teams in the playoffs with strong perimeter games (Miami, Oklahoma City, Boston), another defender like Barnes could be the difference in the Lakers winning three straight championships.
As spectacular as Kobe Bryant is on the offensive side of the ball, he is just as impressive on the defensive end. This is what makes him one of the greatest players of all-time. Last season Bryant made the All-NBA Defensive First Team for the seventh time in his career.
Even more impressive, Kobe defends players on other teams that play outside of his position. Just look at the way he has guarded Rajon Rondo in the Finals in 2008 and 2010. The Lakers are a great defensive basketball team. It all starts with the Black Mamba leading the way.
Ron Artest is the Lakers best overall defender. Artest has immense strength to go along with great speed. Whenever the Lakers need someone to completely shutdown an opposing team's best player, Artest is their man. In last year's playoffs, Artest did a tremendous job limiting Kevin Durant and Paul Pierce in the Lakers' two toughest playoff series. If not for Artest, those series may have turned out differently, considering Paul Pierce torched the Lakers in the 2008 Finals.
If I had to choose one player—not only from the Lakers roster, but the whole NBA—to shut down an opposing player, I would choose Artest every time. It was one of the biggest snubs last season that Artest did not make the All-NBA Defensive First Team. And he should have received more votes for Defensive Player of the Year.