NBA: Top 10 interior defenders so far this season
The lion's share of the defensive responsibility inevitably falls to the frontcourt players in the game of basketball. They play a pivotal role in stopping drives, either as a help defender collapsing into the paint or by contesting or blocking finishes by a player on a drive.
A team with good perimeter defenders and mediocre interior defense gets killed in the paint, while with good interior defense and mediocre perimeter defense the team can still take its chances over opponents' shooting form.
Frontcourt players are also in a better position to dictate the rest of the defense on who to cover on the perimeter, when to switch and when to close out on a jumpshot.
Today, we rank the very best interior defenders in the NBA. These players are necessarily either power forwards or centers in the defensive scheme. To be ranked here, a player needs to have played a minimum of 16 minutes per game in at least 30 regular season games this season.
Without further ado, here goes our list of the top 10 interior defenders in the league:
#10 Aron Baynes - Boston Celtics
The former San Antonio Spurs' player has become a staple in the Boston Celtics' league-leading defense. Aron Baynes, despite being stockily built, has the athleticism, foot speed and defensive awareness to adjust quickly on switches, and he is a sturdy contester of shots at the rim.
His defensive stats bear this out. He is second in the league in defensive rating at 96.8 points per 100 possessions. He has an opponent field goal percentage of 42.9%, good enough for 4th in the NBA and snags 22.4% of all available defensive rebounds despite competing with a number of good defenders on the Celtics' roster.
His limited offensive capability is keeping his per-game minutes average down at 17.7 minutes, but with the possibility of facing big teams like Milwaukee and Philadelphia in the playoffs, expect his playing time to go up.