All Defensive Team

2012 NBA All-Defensive Team – The NBA Realist’s Selections

First Team

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.

C. Tyson Chandler:  Not only performed as the best Defensive Center in the NBA in 2012, but also the best Defensive player. See more in the Chasing 23 DPOY selections post.

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.

2nd Team:

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.


Honorable Mention:

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.


16 Responses to “2012 NBA All-Defensive Team – The NBA Realist’s Selections”

  1. Realist, nice job with the picks; I agree with most of them. The one change I would make is Bynum over Howard for second-team; yes, Bynum had a high knucklehead quotient at times, but he certainly took a step forward this year, and the idea of Howard getting any sort of mention after what he put his team through is too much for me to digest.

    Two other thoughts:

    1. Not even an Honorable Mention for Joakim?
    2. You’re right that Kobe will get at least a second-team nod on reputation; in fact, he might even get a first-team nod, which would give him 10, a new record. He’s certainly not THAT good, and I think that overall, he’s become over-rated as a defender, at least over the past 2-3 seasons-and yes, I’m bracing for the Brown Mamba Earthquake to strike in response to this. :-)

    Posted by E-Dog | May 7, 2012, 4:29 pm
    • E-Dog : I almost included Noah in my honorable mentions. However, he had a horrible start, and was really more of a second half player in general and did not play with the same defensive consistency as the others on the list. In addition, Noah is flanked with a team of outstanding defenders including Deng, Brewer, and Gibson making his mention a bit more indistinguishable.

      Not sure if I agree with Bynum over Howard. Don’t get me wrong, Bynum made a tremendous impact this year. However, Howard to me was simply a bit better.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | May 9, 2012, 6:53 pm
  2. Agree 100% on Kobe, because he is certainly an over-rated defender and has been for the last 5-years at least. He is so over-rated, then I don’t even know why he’s mentioned in the Honorable Mention section. He has survived as being named a great defender (and a great closer) purely on reputation. Any statistical analysis (or even actually WATCHING THE GAMES) would reveal this basic fact.

    Avery Bradley is arguably the best on-ball defender, even better than Tony Allen…I wonder how he got left out completely.

    I also agree on Noah. He’s a better defensive center than Tyson Chandler, but somehow Chandler has gotten a reputation for being a “force” on the defensive side. Again, any analysis of the stats or watching opposing teams routinely score in the paint on the Knicks would reveal this.

    Posted by Frank White | May 8, 2012, 7:25 am
    • Frank – Avery Bradley has turned out to be a very good defender, but my issue is that he only began receiving minutes during the second half of the season. It is one thing to play in spurts, but another to demonstrate consistency throughout the season. I expect Bradley to make this list next year.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | May 9, 2012, 6:58 pm
  3. Where is Shumphert in this equation? Would he qualify as a 2nd-team or even 3rd-team? He has garnered a reputation for great on-ball shut-down defender.

    Posted by Ganesh Kumar | May 8, 2012, 1:26 pm
    • Ganesh: Unlike the All-NBA selection, there is no 3rd team All-Defensive, only 1st and 2nd.

      With that said Shumphert is one of my favorites, and probably deserved at least an honorable mention in hindsight, even if he would have failed to make one of the All-Defensive teams.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | May 9, 2012, 7:01 pm
  4. good list!

    Posted by Lorrance | May 23, 2012, 12:16 pm
  5. I like how the DPOTY is NOT on the 1st team All Defense.


    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | May 23, 2012, 12:30 pm
  6. NBA Realist, At some point they need to change the voting system in which votes are no longer submitted by the media and instead by Players/Coaches. Would you agree?

    Posted by RIGO ACEVEDO | May 23, 2012, 4:11 pm
    • Rigo – Unfortunately, there is no perfect science. Coaches are biased as well and I believe that the NBA’s intent in opening up the voting to the media is that unlike coaches, there are more than 30 media members to help offset bias with sheer numbers. The interesting thing is that awards such as the MVP actually used to be voted on by fellow players.

      Personally, if it were up to me, I would make the solution very simple – Just let me choose the MVP every year :)

      Posted by The NBA Realist | May 24, 2012, 8:11 pm
  7. Is this a joke? How did neither Paul George, possibly the best wing/perimeter defender in the league and Roy Hibbert, statistically the best post defender in the NBA, for the best defensive team in the NBA BY FAR, not even make honorable mentions. What a joke.

    Posted by Poster | April 25, 2013, 9:31 am
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