As the powerful adage states,"Defense wins championships," every championship team needs to have several solid defensive players if they want to contend.
Just ask those Phoenix Suns teams of the 2000s. Very good talent. No defense. No championships.
This article lists the top defensive player, two honorable mention picks and one underrated defender at each position.
Rajon Rondo is a tenacious defender who is ruthless on the perimeter. He averaged 2.3 steals per game, which was second in the league behind Chris Paul.
He is a great isolation defender and can guard any 1 in the league one-on-one. In addition, players struggle to score against him and he forces many turnovers in the process.
Although some might say that he is the product of a great defense in Boston, Rondo gets the slight edge over Derrick Rose and Chris Paul defensively.
Underrated Defender: Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Tony Allen is a dominant on-ball defender, usually being matched up with the opposing team's best player. His assignment?
To shut him down.
Allen was especially prolific against Oklahoma City, when he slowed down Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook quite effectively in the playoffs.
Like Rondo, opposing players struggle to score against him and he averaged 1.8 steals per game in his first season in Memphis.
Underrated Defender: Eric Gordon (New Orleans Hornets)
LeBron James is an elite defender, no doubt about it. He has made the All-Defensive first team for the past three years and he proves his prowess on the perimeter.
James did an especially masterful job on Derrick Rose during the Eastern Conference Finals, slowing him down throughout the five games series.
I know LeBron did not play good defense in the Finals when Jason Terry burned him on multiple occasions, but his rare athleticism and intangibles put him over the top.
Honorable Mentions: Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers) and Shane Battier (Miami Heat)
Underrated Defender: Trevor Ariza (New Orleans Hornets)
Serge Ibaka has emerged as one of the top defenders in the league, even garnering a defensive nickname ("Iblocka") in the process.
He uses his superior athleticism and long arms to his advantage and can guard players on the block as well as on the perimeter.
Ibaka's defense will be much appreciated during the Thunder's probable playoff run this year, when they could face Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki and Blake Griffin, all premier power forwards who Ibaka will be tasked with defending.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks) and Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics)
Underrated Defender: Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat)
Dwight Howard is hands down the best defender in the league and an enforcer in the paint.
He is yet another player who uses his athleticism and defensive tools to his advantage, taking up the post and blocking any shots in his way.
Howard averaged 2.38 blocks per game, while pulling down countless rebounds and stopping top centers like Al Horford and Joakim Noah.
Look for Howard to be this dominant for years to come and put himself in NBA history as one of the top defenders ever.
Honorable Mentions: Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls) and Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks)
Underrated Defender: Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks)