On Monday, the NBA released the All-Defensive teams for the 2020-2021 season. Unlike the All-NBA Teams, there are only two defensive teams. The All-Defensive NBA First Team consists of: Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia Sixers), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks). The All-Defensive NBA Second Team includes: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Matisse Thybulle and Joel Embiid (Philadelphia Sixers), and Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers). These ten players have each been impactful for their respective teams throughout the season, although each player may contribute differently.
*All stats are from the 2020-2021 NBA Regular season, not the playoffs or play-in*
Defensive Team Snubs
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of each of the winners, how about some of the players that could have been selected for the award? Marcus Smart, for the Boston Celtics, has helped the defensive end greatly. Smart averaged 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks in 33 minutes per game. Smart’s defensive rating is a 111.3. Anthony Davis has solidified the PF/C position for the Los Angeles Lakers over the past two seasons. Offensively and defensively, Davis has made an impact. Davis averaged 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks while playing 32 minutes per game. Davis has a 107.4 defensive rating, which is essentially how consistent and impactful a player is on the defensive end of the floor.
All-Defensive First Team
Starting off the First Team, Rudy Gobert. Gobert rightfully won Defensive Player of the Year which is a statement for how dominant he is while playing defense. He averaged 0.6 steals and 2.7 blocks in 30.8 minutes each game this season. Gobert’s defensive rating ended up being 100.9.
Ben Simmons, who was second in defensive player of the year voting, has been a rock solid defender on almost anyone in the league. Simmons is able to guard all five positions thanks to his height and skill. Simmons is especially quick and crafty which allowed him to obtain 1.6 steals and 0.6 blocks while playing close to 33 minutes a game. His rating is currently a 106.
Draymond Green, who finished third in defensive player of the year voting, has constantly been a house-hold name while talking about defense in the league. While he is vocal, he is also extremely strong on the defensive end of the court. Green’s defensive rating finishes at a 109.3, with 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks each game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won defensive player of the year in 2020, has been determined on both ends of the floor. Giannis is not shy about swatting a shot or two either. He averaged 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks. His defensive rating for the season is 107.3.
Jrue Holiday, who is Giannis’s teammate in Milwaukee, is known for his defense. Holiday can defend close to any guard in the league. He is averaging 1.6 steals and 0.6 blocks with a defensive rating of 108.8. Holiday plays around 32 minutes and has been commanding on defense this season.
All-Defensive Second Team
Jimmy Butler is known to be a hard-working and dedicated player. Fans can see this work displayed not only in his offensive game, but defensively as well. Butler averaged nearly 34 minutes and accumulated 2.1 steals and 0.3 blocks a game. His defensive rating sits at a 106.9.
Bam Adebayo, who was also in the running for defensive player of the year, is versatile defensively. He can guard the majority of players in the NBA and proved this with a 109.6 rating, which happens to be the best out of the ten players between the two teams. Adebayo usually had 1.2 steals and 1 block each game, making him pretty consistent in stopping the opposing team.
Matisse Thybulle, who won Pac-12 defensive player of the year twice while attending the University of Washington, has so an extreme amount of potential. He only plays about 20 minutes, but averages 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per contest. Thybulle’s defensive rating is 104.7 and while playing far less minutes than other selections, Thybulle could be mentioned quite often while talking about defense in the sport.
Joel Embiid is the third player from the Philadelphia Sixers to make either the First or Second All-Defensive Team this year. Embiid’s dominance of the offensive and defensive end led him to be chosen for the Second All-Defensive team, as well as being a Most Valuable Player candidate. Embiid’s towering presence in the paint may contribute to his 1.4 blocks and 1 steal per game. His defensive rating is a 105.8.
Kawhi Leonard has always been ruling on defense. Leonard’s 1.6 steals, 0.4 blocks each contest adds another solid season to his already impressive résumé. Leonard’s defensive rating happens to be 109.2 this season.