Giannis, Rudy Gobert, Paul George Headline 2019 NBA All-Defensive Teams

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2019

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, shoots past Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Aaron Gash/Associated Press

The NBA unveiled its All-Defensive teams for the 2018-19 season Wednesday.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe made the first team, per The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears:

"Always an honor," Gobert said of making his third All-Defensive Team, per Eric Woodyard of Deseret News. "I don't take it for granted, and I see it as reward of what we do as a team. None of that is possible without the work of my teammates and the coaching staff."

Having both Bledsoe and Antetokounmpo on the All-Defensive First Team adds to a memorable season for the Bucks. Fox Sports Wisconsin's Craig Coshun noted Milwaukee hadn't had an All-Defensive First Team selection since 1991, and this is only the third time ever the Bucks have had two representatives.

For Smart, Wednesday's achievement is further validation after what was the best year of his NBA career. He held opponents to 33.8 shooting on three-pointers and 35.9 percent on shots beyond 15 feet, per NBA.com. Smart was the perfect backcourt partner for the more defensively limited Kyrie Irving.

Based on how well they've played during the postseason, some fans might be surprised to see Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green getting so little love from the voting panel. They collected seven combined first-team votes.

Leonard missed 22 games and may not have even been the Toronto Raptors' best defender during the regular season. His 107.2 defensive rating was a career worst, per NBA.com.

Likewise, Green seemed to hold something back, perhaps to leave himself as fresh as possible for the playoffs. According to NBA.com, the Golden State Warriors star had a 104.3 defensive rating.

While Leonard and Green's reputations as stifling defenders is well-earned, their places on the second team accurately reflected their performance over the entirety of 2018-19. 

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