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NBA 2018-19: Top 5 lockdown defenders from last season

Nathan Paul
Top 5 / Top 10
08 Jul 2019, 02:58 IST

Giannis Antetokounmpo blocks Fred VanVleet
Giannis Antetokounmpo blocks Fred VanVleet

While scoring is the most glamorous in basketball, defense is what usually gives players and teams the edge to win games. If a team is able to score the basketball but not defend, they would keep trading buckets and fail to pull ahead. The NBA's best teams, more often than not, have elite defenders who bolster their team and put them in a better position to execute offensively.

Throughout the 2018/19 season, several players emerged as elite defenders for their respective sides - including Marcus Smart, Khris Middleton, Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons. However, there were those who stood out even among the aforementioned players. So without further ado, here's a look at the best lockdown defenders over the past season:

#5 Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard defends Giannis Antetokounmpo
Kawhi Leonard defends Giannis Antetokounmpo

The reigning Finals MVP had a great defensive year en route to his second championship with the Toronto Raptors. Through 60 games, Kawhi Leonard averaged 1.8 steals and 0.4 blocks per game - with a total of 106 steals and 24 blocks during the regular season.

It all starts with his basketball IQ: Kawhi has a great understanding of the game and is able to anticipate plays before they happen. With the ability to read the offense, he's able to guard all five positions on court which allows him to switch on everything.

With a 7'3 wingspan on a 6'6 frame, he's able to disrupt offensive players as they make a move or pick up their dribble. He also has an excellent vertical leap and massive hands which earned him The Klaw nickname. Kawhi puts all of these physical gifts to use through a classic defensive stance, which he uses almost every time down the floor.

In recent years, Leonard has developed a strong offensive game too which compliments his defense well, making him one of the league's best two-way players today. The fact he has more career steals (829) than personal fouls (723) reiterates just how good a defender he is.

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