Ask a random NBA fan who the best defensive player in NBA history was and you could get a variety of answers. Bill Russell. Michael Jordan. Hakeem Olajuwon. Dikembe Mutombo. Former Laker Don Ford.
OK, probably not that last one.
Ask Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors who the best defensive player of all time is and you will get a quick answer. Draymond Green.
“The best ever defender?” Green told the Athletic. “Me. That’s what I believe. Wholeheartedly.”
That makes one of you.
There is a defensive stat that has become in vogue in the NBA recently, a stat called Defensive Rating. It basically takes everything a player does on defense and coverts it into a formula that say how many points that player would allow in 100 possessions.
Here’s the top 10 all-time in the NBA, according to basketball-reference.com:
1. Gar Heard, 95.30
2. Dave Cowens, 95.52
3. Tim Duncan, 95.57
4. David Robinson, 95.65
5. Ben Wallace, 95.76
6. Clifford Ray, 96.26
7. Wes Unseld, 96.31
8. Sam Lacey, 96.45
9. George Johnson, 96.67
10. Paul Silas, 96.77
Green’s rating is 101.2, which puts him in 55th place all-time, between Robert Horry and Dan Roundfield. Among active players he is fourth, behind Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond and Joakim Noah.
Pretty good, but far from the best ever. Then again, who’s picking Gar Heard as the best defensive player in history?
Slowing the game down
New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano is having the worst season of his career, and it didn’t get any better over the weekend against the Miami Marlins.
Cano came to the plate Friday with runners on first and second and one out in the seventh in Miami and hit a bouncer back to Marlins pitcher Adam Conley, who threw to second to record the first out. At which point Cano stopped running, allowing the Marlins to easily turn an inning-ending double play.
Even the Mets broadcasters noticed, saying, “Cano didn’t even bother trying to run, just jogged slowly down to first.”
Addressing the assembled media after the game, Mets manager Mickey Callaway said, “He came up proactively on his own and came up to me, the board said two outs, he thought there were two outs at the time, and he understands no matter what the board said, he needs to understand how many outs there are.”
Then on Sunday, with a runner on first and one out in the top of the fourth, Cano hit a nubber in front of the plate. He appeared to contest the play while Marlins catcher Chad Wallach grabbed the ball, threw to second for one out and then Cano was thrown out at first while still standing at home plate, arguing that the ball should not be in play.
Replays showed the ball did not hit Cano, and it was clearly a fair ball. Again, Mets broadcasters criticized him.
“I can’t defend Robinson on that one,” Keith Hernandez said. Callaway came out to talk with the umpires about the play, but Mets announcer Gary Cohen said “There’s nothing to argue. It’s a fair ball. Run!”
LaMelo Ball, 17, is one year away from being able to make himself eligible for the NBA draft. So what will he do with himself while waiting to be the first overall pick (His dad probably believes he’ll be No. 1 and he wouldn’t exaggerate about stuff like that)?
According to Slam magazine, Ball could very well play in China next season.
Hey, LaMelo, if that is true, and you do end up playing for a team in China next season, you should go ask your brother LiAngelo where to shop while you’re there. I understand he knows some places where the prices are a real steal.