Welcome to the NBA, Jordan Bell.
Fans that want to rip on the NBA — casual ones who clearly don’t watch the games — will say there is no defense in the Association. Which is flat-out wrong. First off, NBA defenses are far superior to the college game these same fans often laud. NBA defenses also are better than they were 20 years ago, the allowing of zones has led to defenders having to make split-second switching and rotation decisions that were not on the table for guys in the 1990s, they just had to stick with their man.
The real lesson even the best NBA defenders learn quickly is, often it doesn’t matter. NBA players are so offensively gifted they just score anyway. Good offense beats good defense.
“We had an open gym in LA, at UCLA, and I was guarding him the whole time,” Bell recalled of a session last month. “It’s different than what you see on TV. It’s waaaay different….
“It’s crazy how big he is, how quick he is for his size and how smart he is,” Bell recalled. “He was standing straight up, and I’m thinking he can’t go by me if he’s standing straight up. I’m in a good defensive stance. He’s not crouching.
“But there he goes. I’m not going to say he got by me, but I didn’t realize he was so quick. For him to be standing straight up, there’s no way he should be able to move that fast. I’d understand that quickness if he got lower, but I’ve never seen anybody so quick while standing straight up….
“I thought I did a pretty good job on him, but he obviously hit some shots,” Bell said. “But he would get on the block, and I’m containing him, not letting him back me down, and he would fade away from the block to the 3-point line — and make it. And I just played the best defense of my life. It didn’t matter.”
Again, welcome to the NBA Jordan Bell.
LeBron is the best player walking the face of the earth right now, but there are a whole lot of guys in the NBA that you may think you have stopped only to find they score anyway. How many 6-foot plus guards thought they had Isaiah Thomas contained? Or big men who thought they were about to block a Tony Parker shot into the third row only to watch a floater go over their outstretched arms and straight through the net? The list of guys like that is so long.
But Jordan Bell has the skills to make it difficult for a few of them, if he puts in the work.