Defense is a lost art in the NBA game today, most of today’s players play little to no defense at all. Gone are the days where you can play tough physical defense, some of that is due to the rule changes and some due to player’s mindset. I am doing a four-part series of some the best defenders in each decade starting in the 1980s going into the 2010s.
Sidney Moncrief was probably the first lockdown perimeter defender; he had speed and swift hands. Moncrief was very disruptive on the defensive end of the floor. He did not have very high steal numbers, but was tough on the perimeter defense. The former Milwaukee Buck was a four-time All-NBA Defensive Team and two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Alvin Robertson was outstanding at stealing the ball away from the opposing player; he led the NBA in steals three times in the 1980s. Robertson was quick and strong, with swift hands. Robertson made one First-Team All-NBA Defensive and four Second-Team All-NBA-Defensive Teams in the 1980s.
Michael Cooper was known for his showdowns against Larry Bird. Cooper was known for being one the best lockdown defenders in the NBA, who had good size and length. He was also athletic and quick, that is good traits for a lockdown defender. Cooper won Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 for the Lakers. The former Laker made it to five First-Team and three Second-Team All-NBA Defensive Teams.
Bobby Jones was a hard-nosed old school defensive player. At 6’10, Jones always hustled and played with toughness. He could play defense on the inside and even step out to the perimeter and hold his own. In the 1980s, Jones made five All-NBA Defensive Teams.
Dennis Johnson brought strong ball denial skills to the table. Johnson was 6’4, was strong, and played with toughness. In the 1984 NBA Finals, Johnson did a great defensive job matched up against Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson. His strong stature and athletic ability made it hard for opposing point guards to score on him. Johnson earned three First-Team and two Second-Team All-NBA Defensive teams.
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