Every NBA Team's Best Defensive Player In The 2015-16 Season

By Chipper Murphy

Every NBA Team's Best Defensive Player In The 2015-16 NBA Season

Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The focus of the NBA game has shifted heavily towards offense. Teams want to play up-tempo small-ball and take more threes. With all the attention on offense, it is more important now than ever to have a strong defensive stopper on your squad. In choosing each team's best defensive player, I took into account defensive rating, RPM (real plus/minus) and BPM (box plus/minus). It wasn't easy, but here's every team's best defensive player.

Atlanta Hawks: Paul Millsap

Paul Millsap Atlanta Hawks
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Hawks: Paul Millsap

Paul Millsap Atlanta Hawks
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks' recent success has been built on a foundation of strong team defense. A big part of that success has been their All-Star forward, Paul Millsap. In new coach Mike Budenholzer's system, Millsap has become one of the most improved defensive players in the league over the past two seasons. He already has the odds stacked against him as an undersized power forward, so his hard work and aggressive play are what sets him apart.

Boston Celtics: Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder Boston Celtics
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics: Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder Boston Celtics
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Jae Crowder was just a throw-in for the Boston Celtics in their long overdue Rajon Rondo trade, but when head coach Brad Stevens made Crowder a part of the rotation, he morphed into one of the league's best defenders. He has kept up that surprising defensive performance this season amid the new expectations of his million contract.

Brooklyn Nets: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Brooklyn Nets
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Brooklyn Nets
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is by far the best defensive player on the lowly Brooklyn Nets. Before his injury, he was on track to becoming one of the elite defenders in the league. Through the 19 games that Hollis-Jefferson played, he was first in the league in DRPM for shooting guards. Jefferson likely won't be back till February, but when he does return the rookie will make a case for the All-Defensive team.

Charlotte Hornets: Marvin Williams

Marvin Williams Charlotte Hornets
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets: Marvin Williams

Marvin Williams Charlotte Hornets
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Williams hasn't lived up to the expectations of the No. 2 overall pick, and the Atlanta Hawks will always regret passing on Chris Paul in favor of Williams. His fortunes have changed in the last two seasons, however, as Williams has become a versatile and valuable defender for the Charlotte Hornets. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out for the entire season, Williams has taken his game to another level.

Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler Chicago Bulls
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler Chicago Bulls
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The argument can be made here for either Joakim Noah or Pau Gasol because their statistics are absurd, but the real answer is Jimmy Butler based on the amount of work he puts in. Not only does he guard the other team's best perimeter player every night, he is also second in the league in minutes per game.

Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James

LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James

LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James can guard any position on the floor, and despite playing 36 minutes per game, LeBron James has an incredible defensive rating of 99. The best player in the game still doesn't get enough credit for his greatness on defense.

Dallas Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia

Zaza Pachulia Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia

Zaza Pachulia Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Zaza Pachulia is certainly not a shot blocker — averaging less than one per game for his career — but he doesn't give up any easy shots at the rim, contesting 38.8 percent of shots he faces according to Nylon Calculus.

Denver Nuggets: Darrell Arthur

Darrell Arthur Denver Nuggets
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets: Darrell Arthur

Darrell Arthur Denver Nuggets
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets don't have a single player on their team with a defensive rating of lower than 105, but that can happen when you are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Darrell Arthu, however, has a DRPM of 1.61 and holds opponents to 43.6 percent on contested shots at the rim. Despite playing less than 20 minutes per game, Arthur is Denver's best defensive player.

Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond Detroit Pistons
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond Detroit Pistons
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Drummond is having an incredible breakout season on the offensive end and has taken his defense to the next level. In his contract year, Drummond has earned himself a max-deal over the summer.

Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green

Draymond Green Golden State Warriors
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green

Draymond Green Golden State Warriors
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As important as Steph Curry is to the success of the Golden State Warriors, they wouldn't be a championship team without Draymond Green. His unique abilities as a defender have helped separate the Warriors from every other team in the league.

Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard Houston Rockets
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard Houston Rockets
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard's offensive numbers may be down, but his impact on the defensive end hasn't changed. He's still one of the league's best shot blockers and his reputation is still good enough to alter shots.

Indiana Pacers: Paul George

Paul George Indiana Pacers
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers: Paul George

Paul George Indiana Pacers
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers missed their best defensive player last season when Paul George was out for all but six games. Now he is back and playing at an elite level. His performance has been even more impressive now, as George has been guarding bigger players due to his spending time at the power forward position.

Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan Los Angeles Clippers
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan Los Angeles Clippers
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

DeAndre Jordan has been his typical dominant defensive self this season. He's second in the league among centers, behind just Tim Duncan, in DRPM and fourth in blocks per game. Like Dwight Howard, his reputation forces offensive players to alter their shots in the paint.

Los Angeles Lakers: Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert Los Angeles Lakers
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers: Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert Los Angeles Lakers
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are the worst defensive team in the NBA, meaning they're worse than the Philadelphia 76ers. They are giving up an average of 111.1 points per 100 possessions. It's not easy to find a good defensive player on this team, but Roy Hibbert must win the spot by default. Not because he is anything special, but because he is the best of the bad.

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies have been one of the league's biggest disappointments this season, contributing to the surprisingly average Western Conference. Marc Gasol's performance on defense, however, has not been the reason why.

Miami Heat: Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside Miami Heat
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat: Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside Miami Heat
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Hassan Whiteside burst onto the scene last season as the league's most dominant shot blocker, and that play has continued this season. He has kept up that play, leading the league in total blocks and blocks per game.

Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson

John Henson Milwaukee Bucks
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson

John Henson Milwaukee Bucks
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

John Henson is the Milwaukee Bucks' best defensive player by far. He contests 49.8 percent of opponent's shots at the rim and has saved 3.24 points per 36 minutes of play.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns Minnesota Timberwolves
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns Minnesota Timberwolves
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Karl-Anthony Towns has lived up to all of the expectations, including his versatile defensive skill set. The rookie is top 10 in the league in blocks and is already showing how excellent of a rim protector he is capable of being.

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis New Orleans Pelicans
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis New Orleans Pelicans
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are a terrible defensive team, allowing 110.2 points per 100 possessions, good for 29th in the NBA. As bad as they have been, their superstar has not disappointed. Anthony Davis is third in DRPM among centers and remains one of the league's premier shot blockers.

New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis New York Knicks
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis New York Knicks
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

So much for being too skinny to be able to guard anybody; Kristaps Porzingis continues to prove all of his critics wrong as his game develops. The rookie is 12th among all power forwards in DRPM and has stepped up due to the disappointing performance of Robin Lopez.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Despite playing over 1,000 minutes this season, Russell Westbrook has a defensive rating of 100, is third among point guards in DRPM and leads the Oklahoma City Thunder in DBPM by a wide margin. Westbrook's strength and athleticism allows him guard multiple positions.

Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo Orlando Magic
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo Orlando Magic
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Under new head coach Scott Skiles, the Orlando Magic have greatly improved their defense. They're now seventh in the league in defensive rating after finishing last season 24th in the same category. Part of that has been the improved play of Victor Oladipo, who after moving to the bench has become an even better defender than he already was.

Philadelphia 76ers: Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel Philadelphia 76ers
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers: Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel Philadelphia 76ers
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers don't have a lot to be excited about. In fact, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel may be the only two bright spots, and they can't possibly be excited about Okafor's defense. Noel is a very good defender and will eventually be great.

Phoenix Suns: Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns: Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Bledsoe just went down for the season, adding to the nightmare that the Phoenix Suns were recently going through. Before that, however, Bledsoe was having a career year and was fit to make the All-Star team.

Portland Trail Blazers: Al-Farouq Aminu

Al-Farouq Aminu Portland Trail Blazers
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers: Al-Farouq Aminu

Al-Farouq Aminu Portland Trail Blazers
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

As good as Mason Plumlee has looked on defense this season, Al-Farouq Aminu has had a greater impact on the game for the Portland Trail Blazers. They signed him to a big contract in the offseason with many questions, but he has lived up to it.

Sacramento Kings: Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo Sacramento Kings
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings: Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo Sacramento Kings
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Before Rajon Rondo went into a tailspin he was looking like his old self again, with highlight passes and trademark aggressive perimeter defense. Rondo is slumping since the unfortunate incident with referee Billy Kennedy, but he has the talent to turn it around.

San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard is the best defensive player in the league. He's fourth in DRPM, first in DRTG, second in DBPM and sixth in steals. Leonard is a beast.

Toronto Raptors: DeMarre Carroll

DeMarre Carroll
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors: DeMarre Carroll

DeMarre Carroll Toronto Raptors
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarre Carroll has battled injuries since the beginning of his first season with the Toronto Raptors, but he remains one of the league's premier perimeter defensive players.

Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert Utah Jazz
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert Utah Jazz
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gobert is the most valuable defensive player in the NBA. Since his injury, the Utah Jazz have gone from a dominant top-five defense to having their defense become a weakness. Gobert is the league's best rim protector and an excellent shot blocker. He has been a huge reason why the Jazz are taking the next step towards the playoffs.

Washington Wizards: John Wall

John Wall
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards: John Wall

John Wall Washington Wizards
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

John Wall doesn't get enough credit for the level of franchise player that he is. Wall is the Washington Wizards' best offensive and defensive player, capable of taking over a game on either side. His ability to steal the ball away and go the length of the court to score makes him special.

Chipper Murphy is a Beat Writer for the New York Knicks on RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy or Google. “Like” him on Facebook.

You May Also Like