They can bring the home crowd to their feet, stimy a defense and be an intimidating presence on the court. Yes, I am talking about the top shot blockers that the NBA has to offer. Obviously Dwight Howard checks in as Orlando's representative, but which players make up the top "swat artists" for the other 31 teams in the league. I'll take out all the mess and list the best shot blocker on every team and let you know just why they are so good. Of course let me know your comments if you like what I have to say or if you think I'm way off base.
Josh Smith has great size and athleticism which allows him to throw down thunderous dunks and also be a gatekeeper, so to speak, at the rim. Smith leads Atlanta in blocks with 1.5 per game and is by far the most dominating defensive presence on the team. This 6’9" power forward from nearby College Park, Georgia is clearly an imposing last line of defense for Atlanta in the paint.
While Jermaine O’ Neal actually does lead the Celtics in blocks at 1.2 per game, I’m going to go with “The Big Ticket” Kevin Garnett. At age 34, Garnett isn’t the same explosive presence he used to be in Minnesota, but he is still Boston’s best shot blocker. KG has been hobbled by injuries and has missed 10 games this season due to being banged up, but when he is in the lineup, he is still one to watch on defense. Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Kendrick Perkins are young and talented, but right now Garnett still serves as the Celtics’ top shot blocker.
Tyrus was a force in college as he and Glen Davis helped LSU reach the Final Four in 2006. Thomas’ intimidating play has definitely translated over to the pros where he has blocked 440 shots throughout his first four NFL seasons. Luckily for Charlotte, Thomas is continuing to serve as a defensive enforcer for the Bobcats and is swatting away 1.6 blocks per game. Charlotte is 21-27 and if they have any hopes of making the playoffs then they will need Tyrus Thomas to continue playing at a high level on defense.
Derrick Rose receives a lot of the attention in the “Windy City," but Chicago wouldn’t be nearly as well off as they are without Noah sending back shots in the paint. Joakim has blocked 39 shots so far this year and plays big for the Bulls at 6’11". Joakim Noah’s excellent athleticism as well as his nonstop motor makes him such an intimidating presence and a player that head coach Tom Thibodeau loves to see on the court.
Anderson has missed the last 14 games so this may look like an odd choice, but in my defense my other options were Ryan Hollins and rookie Samardo Samuels. When healthy the 6’11", 260-lb Varejao is a disruptive force inside and has shown great shot-blocking ability. At 8-41, Cleveland could certainly use Anderson back in the lineup because right now opposing teams are not feeling a lot of pushback as they try to run their offense. Varejao’s 300-plus career blocks and 1.2 blocks per game gets the banged-up big man the nod on a dreadful Cleveland team.
After enduring some early growing pains in Chicago, Tyson finally hit his stride while playing for the New Orleans Hornets. Now Chandler is in his ninth year in the league and is looking like a seasoned vet on this surging Dallas Mavericks team. Tyson obviously has great size at 7’1", but he also has tremendous athleticism that allows him to climb the ladder for balls. Tyson already has 53 blocks to his name through the first 45 games of the NBA season and is an easy choice as the Mavs top shot blocker.
Known as the “Grim Leaper” during his time in college at Cincinnati, Kenyon Martin still is a shot-blocking force at age 33. Yes you can argue that Kenyon has lost too much of his step and that Chris “Birdman” Anderson should take up this mantle, but Martin’s numbers are evidence of his dominance. Both Martin and “Birdman” have been hobbled by injuries this season and together they account for 31 blocks thus far this season. Despite that, you know that when the playoffs roll around, Kenyon will be the guy that Denver calls on to guard the paint.
Ben Wallace enjoyed some of the best years of his career early on as a shot-blocking expert in Detroit. Now at age 36 after spending time in Chicago and Cleveland, Ben is back in the “Motor City” and is as dominating as ever around the basket defensively. Ben is averaging 1.1 blocks per game this season and has blocked 43 shots this year. While players such as Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva are younger, experience definitely serves in this case and Wallace gets the nod as top shot blocker in Detroit.
I was tempted to go with 7’0" Andris Biedrins, but I’m giving Wright the nod here. Dorell showed shot blocking prowess in Miami before taking his defensive skill set to the West Coast. Dorell is now a member of the Warriors and he is swatting away as many balls as ever this season. Wright already has 38 blocks on the year and is well on his way to having a career high season in swats this year. His presence has helped keep Golden State competitive in a tough Pacific conference.
Yao Ming would be the obvious choice, but Yao has been sidelined by injuries so Battier slides in here. While no one will mistake Battier for Yao Ming, Shane has shown to be a great shot blocker on defense. Shane has blocked 62 shots so far this year which is surprising considering that he is only 6’8". Still the ex-Blue Devil is a shot blocking presence for the Rockets, rejecting 1.2 shots per game, and is the choice as Houston’s top shot blocker.
When Hibbert was drafted in the first round by Indiana in 2009, some wondered if the big man would ever consistently contribute in the NBA. Looking back it’s safe to say that Roy has found his niche as a shot blocker in this league. After blocking 131 shots last year, Roy Hibbert is on pace to break that mark this year as he has already rejected 79 shots. Obviously, Roy’s 7’2" height aides him down low, but the big man also shows great patience and has a knack for rearranging shots. Roy Hibbert is one of the good young pieces on a Pacers team that just fired Jim O’ Brien and Roy is without a doubt the top shot blocker Indy has.
This may be surprising considering that Blake Griffin is by far the best player and athlete that the Clippers have. When it comes to blocking shots, though, DeAndre is tops on the team. The former Texas A&M Aggie has already blocked 84 shots this season and is on pace to swat away over 150 balls before the year is out. What makes this so impressive is that Jordan only blocked 121 shots during his first two seasons in the league. DeAndre is doing his best work as a shot blocker right now and is an intimidating presence for a Clippers team that is trying to scrap out some respect.
Pau Gasol gets the nod as top shot blocker over the often injured Andrew Bynum. Gasol averages 1.9 blocks per game and is clearly an enforcer in the paint for Phil and the Lakers. Pau appears to be as dominating as ever around the basket for L.A. in his ninth season and is a player that is always a threat to reject a shot. Gasol always draws the other teams’ top big man and he still is blocking shots at a high clip. All that information is why he is the top shot blocker on this L.A. Lakers team.
We go from one Gasol to another on the list. Marc Gasol is the younger brother of the aforementioned Pau Gasol and Marc serves as the top shot blocker for the Grizzlies, much like Pau does for the Lakers. Marc was originally drafted by the Lakers in 2007, but since being acquired by the Grizzlies he has become a force to be reckoned with in Memphis. Marc is averaging just less than two blocks per game and is helping give Memphis some punch on defense near the basket. Marc Gasol already has 87 blocks this season and is well on his way to hitting his career high.
As shocking as it is, I’m not going to go with a member of the “Big Three” and instead I’m choosing Joel Anthony. Anthony is in his third NBA season out of UNLV and the 6’9", 245-lb big man serves as the muscle for this explosive Miami team. Anthony has already blocked 72 shots on the season and is averaging 1.6 blocks per game. The little known Anthony is having the best season of his career by far in the blocks department. The 28-year-old Anthony could be a name to remember come playoff time when the Heat need a presence around the basket. I know that Joel Anthony isn’t the sexiest choice when talking about the Heat, but the body of work doesn’t lie and Joel beats out LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh in this regard.
Bogut was a shot blocking machine during his college years at Utah and that defensive prowess helped him become the top pick. While no one will confuse Bogut for David Robinson or Charles Barkley, the Australian big man has lived up to his shot-blocking reputation. Andrew has over 100 blocks to his name so far this season and the 7'0" Bogut is the most dominant force the Bucks have down low. Andrew is blocking an astounding 2.8 shots per game and makes opposing teams’ game plan for him. Yes, Bogut is the easy choice as top shot blocker for Milwaukee.
Darko is famously remembered as the guy from the 2003 NBA Draft that was picked before Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony. Darko hasn’t enjoyed anywhere near the career that Melo and Flash have carved out, but Milicic is still a very serviceable shot blocker. The 7’0 Milicic plays about 25 minutes for the T-Wolves and during his time on the court this season, he has swatted away 106 shots. Darko certainly isn’t playing on a championship contending team in Minnesota, but his shot-blocking dominance is impressive. Darko’s numbers along with the fact that I want him to finally get some recognition after serving as a punch line earns him a spot as the woeful T-Wolves top shot blocker.
Okafor hasn’t turned out to be the shot blocker that Dwight Howard is but the former UCONN great is still top dog in New Orleans when it comes to swatting shots. The 6’10" Okafor is in his sixth NBA season and is still blocking shots at an impressive clip. This season the big man has blocked 87 balls and is averaging 1.8 blocks per game. Emeka’s sheer number of blocks plus the fact that he doesn’t have a lot of competition in New Orleans puts him on this list.
Brook has always been a great shot blocker dating back to his college days at Stanford. The seven-foot big man is sending shots flying back once again this season at a high rate. Lopez’s shot blocking instincts and sheer size make him a load for opposing offenses to handle. Brook probably won’t match the 151 blocks that he had during his rookie season, but his 72 blocks thus far this season are impressive. As far as shot blockers go, Brook Lopez is definitely the best that the New Jersey Nets have to offer.
Stoudemire has led the Knicks resurgence this season and has been a dominating force in all aspects of the game. You may have already assumed it, but blocking shots isn’t a chink in Amare’s armor. The 6’10" forward averages over two blocks per game and has already blocked over 100 shots this season. It’s not just Amare’s size that makes him so dangerous, though, he also has superb athleticism and great timing on his blocks. All of these aspects combined together make Amare Stoudemire the clear representative of the New York Knicks in this slideshow.
Ibaka is only is his second season in the NBA, but he is a welcome addition for Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Ibaka doesn’t have near the scoring prowess that Durant or Russell Westbrook has, but Serge does know how to block shots. Ibaka’s 2.1 blocks per game and 101 blocks overall this season are tops on the Thunder’s roster. Serge’s dominant shot blocking and defensive intensity is going to be critical if Oklahoma City intends to take the next step once the playoffs come in April.
Dwight Howard is probably the top shot blocker in the NBA and is definitely the top shot blocker in Orlando. The man known as “Superman” has awe-inspiring athleticism, great wingspan and shot blocking instincts to boot. Howard has blocked 1,147 shots through his first six years in the league and has already swatted over 100-plus shots this year. To bring up any other name at this spot would be crazy and kill any credibility this article has. Dwight Howard is the choice here for Orlando as best shot blocker without a doubt.
Elton is now in his 30s, but he is still a force to be reckoned with around the basket. Brand mixes great leaping ability with the instincts of a wily veteran to swat back whatever comes his way in the post. Elton’s 52 blocks this season don’t matchup with Dwight Howard’s numbers, but he is the best that the 76ers have to offer in terms of a low post presence. Elton may not be the flashiest guy on the list, but he is a shot blocking presence around the rim, which is what Doug Collins and the 76ers need.
Channing scores over 11 points per game and gives Phoenix good minutes, but Frye’s true value lies in his shot-blocking ability. Channing averages 1.1 blocks per game and at 6’11", 245 lbs, he has no problem swatting away any ball that crosses his field of vision. Channing started his career playing for the Knicks in the garden and now is a force down low in the desert for Steve Nash and the Suns. Phoenix is trying to compensate for the loss of Amar'e Stoudemire and Channing is one of the ways that they are dealing with life after Amare.
Camby is in his 14th NBA season and Marcus no longer scores or fills up the stat sheet in general at a high clip. One aspect of the game that Camby still dominates, though, is blocking shots and being effective defensively around the rim. While many Portland fans are still wishing that Greg Oden was the enforcer inside, they will have to make do with Camby. Marcus averages 1.8 blocks per game and has blocked 72 shots so far this season. It’s unclear how many good seasons Camby has left in his, but for now I’m just enjoying his shot blocking expertise.
In the near future, DeMarcus Cousins will probably lay claim to this spot, but for now Dalembert gets the nod as best shot blocker for Sacramento. The eight-year veteran has blocked 75 shots so far this year and while he probably won’t catch his 2004 record of 189 blocks, his dominance this season is impressive. The 6’11" Dalembert figures to be in the Kings plans as they try to climb the ladder in the West. At age 29, Samuel still has more good years left in him and we probably haven’t heard the last of his shot blocking greatness.
This may sound like the cliché choice, but Duncan is still a dominant presence for San Antonio in the paint. Tim averages two blocks per game and has 94 blocks on the season so far. His 2,329 career blocks are impressive in itself, but at 34 Duncan still dominates around the basket and is one of the most intimidating players for a scorer to have to maneuver around. There is no doubt that Tim Duncan is the top shot blocker in San Antonio.
A case could also be made for rookie Ed Davis here, but I chose to go with the more polished Bargnani. This fourth year NBA veteran from Rome is a low post presence that the Raptors need. Andrea blocks 0.9 shots per game and at 7’0" he is able to make any deflection or block that is within reach of him. What is most impressive is that Bargnani also averages 20.9 points per game, which is evidence of his dominance on offense and on defense for Toronto. The young Bargnani should continue to be a big-time shot blocker for the foreseeable future even with the addition of young Ed Davis.
Jefferson was previously a shot-blocking mainstay in Minnesota before joining the Jazz and beefing up their front line after the departure of Carlos Boozer. Al has 95 blocks on the season and has swatted away over 600 shots throughout his first six years in the NBA. Al’s athleticism and timing make him such a nightmare for opposing slashers and big men. Jerry Sloan and Utah definitely needed a lift after Carlos Boozer left and they got one with the arrival of Al Jefferson. This big man is clearly the top shot blocker in Utah.
JaVale is only 23 years old, but it looks like he has a great shot blocking future ahead of him. McGee already has 289 blocks to his name throughout his first three seasons in the league. This is McGee’s best season yet so far as he has already blocked 113 shots, which is a career high with 37 games remaining in the season. JaVale McGee is the top shot blocker on this young Washington Wizards team that seems equipped for the future.