The Defense Rests

By: 01.12.10  •  41 Comments

Jamal Crawford

When they weren’t busy complaining about the refs and conveniently turning their heads whenever the Celtics committed a foul, Boston announcers Tommy Heinsohn and Mike Gorman were actually pretty funny during last night’s Hawks/Celtics game when they turned their attention to slaughtering Jamal Crawford for his, um, less than stellar defense.

In the first half, Heinsohn pointed out that whoever Crawford was guarding was attacking the basket at will. “Well, they should,” Gorman quipped. In the second half, Heinsohn said, “[Crawford] couldn’t guard anything if you gave him a rifle and put him outside Buckingham Palace.”

Having followed JC since high school, I know defense isn’t exactly his strong suit — he gets paid to get buckets — but I wouldn’t say he’s the worst defender out there. But who is? If I had to make a starting five of starting-caliber players who need to attend the Reggie Geary Basketball Camp, it would be:

PG — Jose Calderon, Raptors
A reader recently commented that the Raps would be better off playing a 4-on-5 zone rather than going 5-on-5 with Calderon on the court. Sadly, (1) I’m pretty sure they weren’t joking, and (2) I almost believed it when I read it. Last week I watched Jay Triano sub out for Calderon for defensive purposes with two seconds left and the Raptors ahead by four while shooting free throws. Coach doesn’t trust him at all.

SG — Allen Iverson, Sixers
I was going to give this spot to Crawford because I figured at least A.I. battles when he’s on the wrong end of a mismatch and he gets steals, but it turns out JC has actually been more prolific (albeit barely) in creating turnovers this season, swiping 0.84 balls next to Iverson’s 0.73 per game. Philly opponents typically look to take advantage of Iverson right away; the Cavs even tried to get Anthony Parker off against A.I. before reverting to the standard “Pass It To ‘Bron” game plan.

SF — Peja Stojakovic, Hornets
Peja also gets the Iverson treatment. Whoever the Hornets play, they’ll identify whoever Peja is guarding and see how badly they can exploit the mismatch. New Orleans hasn’t been trying to hand Julian Wright the starting SF job because Wright can do pretty dunks; it’s because he has a chance to be at least a decent defender.

PF — Antawn Jamison, Wizards
No one’s questioning his ability to get buckets and boards, but Jamison is proof that there’s more to the game than stats. On offense, he plays like he doesn’t know the time or score, running heat checks with 1:30 to go in the fourth quarter of a close game. On defense, he plays like it’s a morning shootaround.

C — Juwan Howard, Blazers
By all means, he shouldn’t even be playing as much as he is, but injuries to Portland’s front line have forced Howard into a starting role. He’s good for knocking down some mid-range jumpers if you leave him open and is smart enough to know what he should do defensively, he’s just not physically able to keep up.

Position-by-position, who would make up your All-No Defense Team?

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