OKC Thunder 30 for 30 round table: Getting defensive

Continuing the OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable series finds our writers diving into All-Defense teams and what warrants making the grade of top 10 players.

Next up in the 30 for 30 OKC Thunder roundtable series the Thunderous Intentions writing team tackles All-Defensive teams. Also on the docket is whether any Thunder players will make the cut or if they should be considered.

Not surprisingly, the first and second teams will feature players from the top 10 defensive teams:

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. LA Lakers
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Philadelphia 76ers
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. LA Clippers
  8. Brooklyn Nets
  9. OKC Thunder
  10. Orlando Magic

Another commonality is the Eastern Conference dominates the list which is in line with the personality of the two coasts historically. This season seven of the top 10 teams are from the East with only three from the West.

With that, I give you question 12 from the series…

Q12: Do any of the OKC Thunder deserve to make an All-Defense team? Name your first and second All-Defense teams.

Shontelle Matano:

I love the OKC Thunder but I have made the difficult choice to not place anyone on the squad in either the first or second All-Defensive NBA team. Those who I have selected are below.

First team: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Khris Middleton, Joel Embiid, LeBron James
Second team: Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Jrue Holiday, Kyle Lowry

Rylan Stiles:

I don’t think Lu Dort has done enough to get on the all defensive team, but will see his name on there in the future. For 2019-20, Chris Paul’s bulldog defense and leadership gets him on the list

First team: Kyle Lowry, Marcus Smart, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Anthony Davis
Second team: Chris Paul, OG Anunoby, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Joel Embiid

Dustin McGowen:

So I’m not the biggest stathead in the world, but I found a stat called ‘Defensive Win Shares’ from NBA.com. The highest thunder player is Dennis Schroder, who is sixteenth overall and eighth among guards. I don’t think that merits an All-defense nod even though the Thunder is 9th in team defensive rating.

I have a question though: Can the entire Bucks roster win this honor? Milwaukee has a three-point lead in defensive rating and five players in the top 12 of the list mentioned in the last paragraph.

In all seriousness, Giannis Antetokounmpo,  Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez are all first-teamers. Nods should also go to Jayson Tatum and Kyle Lowry.

Tamberlyn Richardson:

All-NBA by definition implies the 10 best defenders in the NBA. As Dustin points out there are several stats to examine when making selections.  He notes win shares which are a great place to start.

Diving a little deeper a team like the Bucks plays precisely that — TEAM defense which helps each of the individual’s stats. Kawhi Leonard (22) may be the best defender in the league for example but he doesn’t make the top 10 win shares list. Several Raptors also make the cut because like Milwaukee they play solid team defense.

The player not showing up in the top 10 or 15 though is arguably the Raptors best defender –  OG Anunoby (35). And the reason players like Leonard and Anunoby sometimes don’t show up in these stats is they are tasked with guarding the opponent’s best player. While they might limit the effectiveness of said player the stats won’t necessarily translate into win falls.

Similar to my All-NBA list there are specific caveats to consider when selecting those who make the cut.

  1. individual production on defense
  2. on/off court effect
  3. team seeding
  4. games played or missed due to injury

First team: Kyle LowryKawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Joel Embiid 
Second team: Marcus Smart, Jaylen BrownPascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Anthony Davis

Honorable mention: Chris Paul, Luguentz Dort, Malcolm Brogdon, Wesley Matthews, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Eric Bledsoe

Rudy Gobert notably misses making the list due to the Jazz drop off defensively which is partially tied to the center’s slight regression and teams putting floor-spacing big men on the court forcing him away from the paint.

Next: 30 x 30 roundtable Q10: Is SGA in mix for Most Improved?

Saturday the team returns to consider the Rookie of the Year and how Darius Bazley has progressed in his inaugural season with the OKC Thunder. Please let us know your selections for All-Defensive first and second teams in the comments section.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy day.