Defense wins championships. The best offense is a good defense. Every basketball player and fan has heard those words at one point or another. Those phrases have stood the test of time because they remain true. No matter how talented or prolific an offense can be, if there is no effort to play defense, a team’s chances of success at the highest level will ultimately plummet.
There are individual players who display better defensive skills and abilities than others and have a deep impact to their team because of their defensive prowess, some just more than others. So who are the top 10 candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year award so far in the 2013-14 season? Let’s take a look.
*** *** ***
10. MILES PLUMLEE
The Phoenix Suns are arguably the biggest surprise this season so far. Additionally, Miles Plumlee is also the biggest surprise to appear on this list. However, his defensive stats speak for themselves. According to Synergy Sports, Plumlee’s defense only gives up .81 ppp (points per possession) and allows just 39 percent of opponent’s shots to score.
Plumlee is an excellent pick-and-roll, spot-up, and isolation defender and is a solid rim defender, allowing just 47.6 percent of opponent’s shots to score at the rim. The NBA sophomore is averaging two blocks per game and 8.6 boards per game in 28.4 minutes. Finally, Plumlee has a 103 defensive efficiency rating and a 0.9 defensive win shares rating.
9. SERGE IBAKA
With the decreased defense in the low post from Kendrick Perkins this season, Serge Ibaka has picked up the slack quite well. Ibaka has made improvements to his offensive game recently, but defense remains his calling card. Ibaka grabs 9.2 boards per game out of 15.4 rebounding chances and is an effect rim defender, allowing 53.9 percent of opponent’s attempts to score at the rim.
Meanwhile, Ibaka remains one of the best shotblockers in the league, posting 2.9 BPG in 25 games. Air Congo has a defensive efficiency rating of 99 and a defensive win shares rating of 1.4. He excels in defending the pick-and-roll and spot-up plays and gives up .88 points per possession in his overall defensive game, according to Synergy Sports.
8. DeANDRE JORDAN
When Doc Rivers came to Los Angeles in the offseason, the emphasis on defense immediately rose. Doc has publically stated that he aims to develop DeAndre Jordan into the Clippers’ defensive anchor. While the team’s overall defense has not been pretty at times, Jordan has quickly strengthened his game under the influence of his new coach.
Jordan is a solid pick-and-roll and spot-up defender, while his overall defense gives up .85 points per possession. DJ has a defensive efficiency rating of 97 (best in his career) and a defensive win shares rating of 1.9. He averages 2.2 blocks, 1.0 steals and 13.0 rebounds per game out of 18.1 chances. Additionally, Jordan gives up buckets on 54.4 percent of opponent’s attempts at the rim. It will be intriguing to watch to what extent Doc Rivers’ influence will have on Jordan’s defense by the end of the season.
7. ANDREW BOGUT
Golden State’s exceptional offensive makes them arguably the most entertaining team to watch in the NBA today. The Warriors’ unique ability to go on runs prevent them from ever being out of the game no matter how big their deficit is. However, it will be their defense that will determine how far they can go this season. That is why the Warriors need Andrew Bogut and his inside defense to remain healthy throughout the season.
Bogut defends the rim very well, allowing just 44.7 percent of opponent’s shots to score at the rim. He is a solid rim protector as well, grabbing 10.2 boards out of 15.0 rebounding opportunities per game. The 29-year-old Aussie has a defensive efficiency rating of 97 and a defensive win shares rating of 1.5. According to Synergy Sports, Bogut’s defense only gives up .75 ppp (points per possession) overall, and he excels at defending post-up sets, which accounts for nearly half of his defensive plays.