NBA Free Agents 2011: The 10 Best Defensive Players Available
Defense wins championships, always and forever. So to help your favorite NBA team get to the promised land, I've compiled a list of the best defensive free agents available to sign this offseason.
(Let's assume that our professional sport leagues were more cooperative and that there was no lockout.)
While there are some solid defenders in the 2011 free agent pool, no one will get the list of players confused with the infamous 2010 class (remember?) or the 2012 class that features Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
Still, defenders are vital to winning in the long run in the NBA, and you don't want to be left behind with no defensive stars. Ask Golden State.
10: Josh Howard
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Josh Howard's 2010 defensive statistics with the Washington Wizards were 3.1 defensive rebounds, 0.3 blocks, and 0.7 steals per game.
While not known specifically for his defense in the NBA, Howard was highly regarded as a defender during his college days at Wake Forest. He was named to the ACC All-Defensive Team his senior year, among many other awards.
While that was definitely a long time ago, the pedigree is there as a defender.
Howard falls into the category of the "been there done that" players who are polished on the defensive end simply because of their natural ability and experience in the pros.
9: Grant Hill
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Grant Hill's 2010 defensive statistics with the Phoenix Suns were 3.3 defensive rebounds, 0.4 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game.
Hill's appearance on his list is due to two things: 1) His tremendous talent and experience and 2) his recent knack for staying healthy.
Indeed, Hill's career has been riddled with untimely injuries that kept him out during the prime of his career, but during the past three seasons, he has played in 82, 81, and 80 games out of the 82 game season.
A top contender that feels they are just one veteran away from making a deep run should sign Hill to a one-year deal.
8: Samuel Dalembert
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Samuel Dalembert's 2010 defensive statistics with the Sacramento Kings were 5.6 defensive rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 0.5 steals per game.
Dalembert has been one of the game's most accomplished shot blockers during his nine-year career, but he's far from a household name.
In fact, he was ranked in the top 20 in blocks last season among such stars as Brook Lopez, Josh Smith, and Paul Gasol.
He is an excellent source of rebounds, both offensive and defensive, and with a 50.4 field goal percentage over the past three years, Dalembert isn't a liability on offense.
7: Reggie Evans
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Reggie Evans' 2010 defensive statistics with the Toronto Raptors were 7.5 defensive rebounds, 0.2 blocks, and 1.0 steals per game.
Evans will never be confused to be an offensive force with his career average of 4.3 points per game.
But his 7.5 defensive rebounds per game would've been good for seventh in the NBA. An an injury before the halfway point of the season prevented that.
There is always room for a great rebounder on a roster, and I wouldn't mind seeing Evans come to the Memphis Grizzlies.
6: Chuck Hayes
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Chuck Hayes' 2010 defensive statistics with the Houston Rockets were 5.1 defensive rebounds, 0.7 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game.
Hayes saw a large bump in his minutes this past season due to Yao Ming's injured foot. Now that we know that Ming is hanging up his size 85 shoes for good, Hayes' value to the Rockets is greater than ever.
He dealt with the increase in minutes wonderfully and saw increases in single one of his defensive statistics without suffering on the offensive end.
I think Houston needs to sign him back, but the organization could just as easily build for the future and let him walk.
5: Andrei Kirilenko
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Andrei Kirilenko's 2010 defensive statistics with the Utah Jazz were 3.6 defensive rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game.
Kirilenko's numbers speak for themselves. While he's never been considered a rebounding machine, "AK-47" has always found a way to use his 6'9" height to block and alter shots as well as scrap for steals.
He has spent his entire career in Utah, but with the selection of Enes Kanter in the 2011 NBA Draft, Paul Millsap might be the Jazz's best option at small forward in the future.
Kirilenko will find a good home somewhere else and could immediately be a force on a contender.
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Nene's 2010 defensive statistics with the Denver Nuggets were 5.7 defensive rebounds, 1.0 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game.
Nene knows his job on the offensive side, which is to shoot high percentage shots. He did just that and managed an NBA-best 61.5 field percentage.
But what makes the Brazilian center standout more than anything is his relentless effort on the defensive end. He has averaged more than five defensive rebounds per game for the past three seasons, made possible by his great fundamentals and effort.
If Denver isn't able to sign him back, Nene could end up in the East.
3: Shane Battier
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Shane Battier's 2010 defensive statistics with the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies were 3.5 defensive rebounds, 1.0 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game.
Battier experienced a slight drop in most of his statistics across the board mostly due to a drop in minutes after being traded to the Grizzlies midseason.
He has been as one of the game's most disciplined, intelligent defenders his entire career, earning a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team two times.
Battier is somewhat of a specialist against Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. A team in the West, specifically in the Pacific Division, would be wise to sign the small forward.
2: Tayshaun Prince
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Tayshaun Prince's 2010 defensive statistics with the Detroit Pistons were 3.2 defensive rebounds, 0.5 blocks, and 0.4 steals per game.
Very similar to Shane Battier, Prince is considered one of the game's best veteran defenders. A four-time selection the NBA All-Defensive Second Team, he has proven his skills in the regular season.
But Prince has made a career out of clutch defensive plays as well, including one of the best postseason plays in NBA history. The block won the game, and the Pistons went on the win the NBA Finals.
Prince is 31 years old with still several good years left in him. His defensive prowess will remain effective for three to five years out.
1: Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler's 2010 defensive statistics with the Dallas Mavericks were 6.6 defensive rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and 0.5 steals per game.
But do I really need to tell your about how good the newly crowned NBA Champion is on defense?
Chandler has shown a lot promise throughout his 10-year career, but it finally came together this past season where he used his 7'1" frame to take command of the paint and was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
At 28-years old, Chandler is still well within the prime of his career and is the best defensive player in the 2011 free agent class.