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Top 10 defenders in the draft

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Defense wins championships. Who among these players can put a team over the top?

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Malone and the Denver Nuggets value defense at a high clip and they missed a high-profile defender in this year’s playoffs. There are a bunch of very high quality defenders in the draft and the Nuggets might have their eyes on a couple of these prospects.

Most like the high-flying, three-point scoring, dime-dropping players in most drafts but this is my favorite part. Players that like the dirty work and aren’t afraid to sacrifice for what’s best for the team on the defensive end. With that being said, here are my top ten defenders in this year’s draft.


Evan Mobley

If not the number one overall pick he will be number two most likely. The USC product has a high motor and all the physical tools to be an elite defender at the next level. He’s 7 feet tall with a 7’4” wingspan that causes serious disruption for the opponent. His length is impressive but his mobility might be even more impressive. He can hedge out on screens and when needed he can switch onto any player on the floor.

REB: 8.7

BLK: 2.9

STL: 0.8

Davion Mitchell

Davion Mitchell is one of the most impressive perimeter defenders in the draft if not the most. He won this year’s Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year and is a two-time Big-12 All-Defense selection. At 6’2” he is a bulky 205 lbs. and has the quickness to disturb anybody on the perimeter. He makes every movement difficult for offensive players and is one of those defenders that will get in your grill. He is a high-motor type of player which makes him very productive in guarding the pick and roll. Defensively, he is a coach's dream at the guard spot.

REB: 2.7

BLK: 0.4

STL: 1.9

Scottie Barnes

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton produces effective wings at the next level and this is one of his more impressive products. He is built at 6’9” 220 lbs. with athleticism and strength that profiles at the next level. He has Ben Simmons type of ability at the defensive end because of his quick feet and strong frame. He is an intense player with great defensive IQ who took on the task to guard the opponent's best offensive player each time down the court.

REB: 4

BLK: 0.5

STL: 1.5

Jonathan Kuminga

Although he is young, he is an absolute specimen at 6’8” 220 lbs. He is a powerful, athletic athlete with quick feet and hands to guard most positions on the court. His versatility makes him intriguing to NBA teams, but his ability to switch onto guards, for as big as he is, can produce a great impact at the next level.

REB: 7.2

BLK: 0.8

STL: 1

Usman Garuba

The Real Madrid product is a young one at 19 but he defends like he’s 26. He is 6’8” 220 lbs. with a 7’2” wingspan that can disrupt anyone on the floor. He played with very smart competition overseas, so his defensive IQ is one of his highest qualities. The NBA is full of pick and roll and complex actions and Garuba excels at recognizing and interrupting those possessions. He uses great angles to get in front of his defenders which makes him arguably the most polished defender in the draft.

REB: 4.6

BLK: 0.7

STL: 0.6

Yves Pons

Pons is one of the most athletic defenders in the draft. Although he’s 6’6” he is an excellent shot-blocker for his size. He is a great help defender and knows where he is needed in defensive rotations. He is one of those players that absolutely comes out of nowhere to make an incredible defensive play and his great timing facilitates that.

REB: 5.3

BLK: 1.8

STL: 0.7

Marcus Garrett

Marcus Garrett is an incredible perimeter defender. At 6’5” 195 lbs. he’s one of the best defensive guards in the country. He takes on the opponent's best offensive player and locks him up with ease due to his long arms and quick feet. His defensive value is high because of his drive on the defensive end but his athletic ability makes it difficult for opponents to drive past him. He is a three-time winner of the Big-12 All-Defense award and was the 2019-2020 Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

REB: 4.6

BLK: 0.3

STL: 1.6

Herbert Jones

Herbert Jones is a 6’8” 210 lbs. nightmare for opposing wings. Jones makes every dribble difficult because of his length and quickness. He’s strong enough to guard larger players but he excels picking up smaller players on the perimeter in switching situations. Jones was named this year’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year and is a two-time SEC ALL-Defense winner.

REB: 6.6

BLK: 1.1

STL: 1.7

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is not someone you would want to scuffle with at the bar. He’s 6’9” 230 lbs. and an athletic big who can guard multiple positions. Jay Wright’s system at Villanova helped him develop great defensive instincts as he excels in switching situations for a big. He displays fluid hips and quick feet for his size and profiles to be a smart, effective NBA defender.

REB: 8.5

BLK: 0.6

STL: 1

Terrence Shannon Jr.

The Texas Tech product has an adult frame at 6’6” 210 lbs. with swift feet that make him an NBA-ready defender. He profiles to be more of a wing defender, but his lateral quickness and physicality make it difficult for opponents to catch a step on him. His college scheme put a premium on defending with anticipation and technique, so his defensive instincts will be important at the next level.

REB: 4

BLK: 0.1

STL: 1.1