Minister of Defense: Is Ron Artest the NBA’s Top Man-To-Man Defender?

When attempting to compare the top defensive players in the NBA, it's important to note the differences between help defense, and man-to-man defense.

Help defense is easier to gauge because most defensive statistics such as steals and blocks occur as a result of help defense, while great individual defense is more difficult to explain with numbers.

Recognizing great individual defense demands more of an a person's attention, because it involves observing the more fundamental aspects of defense.

Footwork, posture, instincts, and court awareness are a few traits of a superior defender, and in a league based on man-to-man defensive principles, there are few players who actually stand out in that category.

Last season's NBA All-Defensive first team consisted of Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, and Gerald Wallace.

All five players are competent individual defenders, but Bryant and Rondo are really the only ones that have a reputation as great man-to-man defenders.

Howard was the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year, and he earned the award due to his dominance in the paint, which mainly consisted of vicious blocks and strong defensive rebounding.

Howard's size, strength, and athleticism make him an ideal help defender in the paint, and he is one of the better players in the NBA when it comes to guarding the rim.

But as far as man-to-man defense goes, Howard is still learning the nuances of playing solid post defense, and he has a habit of crossing his feet instead of sliding when he is forced to guard a player on the perimeter.

One of the reasons Howard is whistled for so many fouls is because he consistently gets beaten off the dribble, and he often finds himself trying to block the opposition's shot from behind.

That's not to take anything away from Howard though, because his impact on the defensive end can be game-alt...

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