G. Tony Allen –Not only the best on-ball defender in the NBA, but also one of it’s most psychologically unstable, thereby posing a rare combination of skill, footwork, and certifiable crazy. Add this to fact that Allen finished 5th in steals, continued his “that guy came out of nowhere” ascension from bench player to starter, and served as the enforcer for the proverbial “playoff team that nobody wants to face” – you now have your premier defensive perimeter player in the NBA.
G. Chris Paul: League leader in steals at 2.5/game, and one of the best perimeter help defenders in the NBA, CP3 wreaked havoc on offenses in 2012 and helped marginalize gaps in an otherwise defensively undisciplined Clipper front line.
F. Lebron James – My runner-up candidate for DPOY, Lebon is the NBA’s most talented and versatile defender, oftentimes defending all five positions throughout the course of the game, and always assuming responsibilities for the opponents best perimeter player in crunchtime. Like a big cat in the wild, no one in the NBA covers more ground faster. As such, Lebron may in fact become Scottie Pippen 2.0 after all, if not on offense, then certainly on defense.
F. Serge Ibaka: Who said that the NBA shot blocker is gone? Ibaka not only lead the league in shot blocking (3.7/game), but was arguably the most electric defender in the NBA in 2012, providing a strong athletic/thug dynamic, along with front court partner Kendrick Perkins. However, to put Ibaka’s 3.7 blocks in perspective, he ties 2001 Theo Ratliff (3.7) with the highest blocks/game average since 1999 Alonzo Mourning (3.9 blocks). Quite remarkable considering the declining pace and fewer number of possessions in today’s NBA.
G. Rajon Rondo: Once again, one of the league leaders in steals, Rondo continued to be the best perimeter help defender in the NBA while offering an element of toughness and athleticism for an aging Celtics team.
G. Dwyane Wade: Almost missed the cut because he only played 49 games, but I had to include him in the end. Wade remains one of the elite defenders in the NBA, and the 2nd best Wing defender behind Lebron James, averaging 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Had Wade played a full season, I may have been persuaded to give him first team recognition. Instead, he will have to settle for Second team.
C. Dwight Howard: I know, I know – it feels dirty awarding Dwight with anything, but the fact remains that Howard is still the League’s best defensive player, even if he failed to perform at that level with consistency. Regardless of how annoyed we may be, an inconsistent Dwight still merits a 2nd team All-Defensive selection.
F. Kevin Garnett: Fountain Of Youth anyone? Make no mistake, Garnett was once again the defensive anchor of an aging Celtics team, remarkably adapting to the Center position by mid-season, and enabling the Celtics to become a Top-2 Defense. Kevin Garnett is going to earn his 12th NBA All-Defense Selection folks, and must now be included in the “Greatest defensive power forward of all time” discussion.
F. Andre Iguodala: You’ve gotta admire a guy who transformed his game in order to serve as the Defensive leader for his team. In 2012, Igoudala helped lead the NBA’s 3rd best Defense to an 8th seed, serving as the defensive glue-guy on an otherwise defensively challenged Sixers team.
Taj Gibson: My toughest omission. The NBA’s most underrated defender, and arguably it’s best low post/position defender, Gibson rarely allows big men to get to their sweet spot and played the bulk of the defensive crunchtime minutes for the best defense in the NBA. Expect him to receive a hefty raise once he becomes a free agent.
Mike Conley: Finished second in steals, and became one of the best defensive point guards in the NBA. Who knew that Conley would have a more productive career than his Ohio teammate, Greg Oden?
Arron Afflalo – Afflalo received a new contract during the off-season, and then went out and earned it by serving as one of the leagues perimeter defenders on a miserably defensive Denver Nuggets team. Can you imagine how bad that Denver defense would have been without Afflalo?
Kobe Bryant: He will still likely make the 2nd team off reputation alone, but this was not the same Kobe that we have seen in years past, oftentimes lackadaisical on screen/rolls, and failing to close on rotations. Understandable considering Kobe’s age and his penchant for conserving energy for offense. While he still remains one of the best crunchtime defenders in the game, he will have to settle for an All-NBA selection instead.
- 2012 Defensive Player of The Year: Chasing 23 Writers’ Picks
- Debunking The Myth: Did Scottie Pippen Always Guard the Other Team’s Best Player?
- 2011 NBA Defensive Player Of The Year: Dwight Howard – Chasing 23 Writers’ Picks
- Kobe Bryant vs Dwyane Wade: Who’s the Odd Man Out for 1st Team All-NBA?
- Download/Listen: NBA Realist on the Blitz Hardcore Podcast (4/12/2012)