2020 PBT Awards: All-Defense

76ers guard Ben Simmons and Celtics guard Marcus Smart
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The NBA regular season might be finished. Heck, the entire NBA season might be finished. Even if play resumes with regular-season games, there’d likely be an abridged finish before the playoffs (which will also likely be shortened).

So, we’re making our 2019-20 award picks now. If the regular season somehow lasts long enough to reconsider our choices, we’ll do that. But here are our selections on the assumption the regular season is over.

Kurt Helin

First team

G: Marcus Smart, Celtics

G: Ben Simmons, 76ers

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

F: Anthony Davis, Lakers

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Second team

G: Eric Bledsoe, Bucks

G: Patrick Beverley, Clippers

F: Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

F: Jayson Tatum, Celtics

C: Brook Lopez, Bucks

Picking the first team was fairly straightforward, but it gets difficult on the second team because of the number of good defenders in the mix. Especially bigs. Joel Embiid deserves consideration, as did Bam Adebayo. In the end, Jayson Tatum made a defensive leap this season that helped Boston, and Lopez has become one of the best drop big men in the game, and their success sparking their team success got them the nod.

Dan Feldman

First team

G: Marcus Smart, Celtics

G: Ben Simmons, 76ers

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

F: Anthony Davis, Lakers

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Second team

G: Patrick Beverley, Clippers

G: Chris Paul, Thunder

F: Bam Adebayo, Heat

F: Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

C: Brook Lopez, Bucks

The first team frontcourt is comprised of my Defensive Player of the Year top three. Clippers Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard defended at a first-team level, but they missed too many games, though still played enough to make the second team.

Bam Adebayo showed enough versatility in Miami’s position-less scheme that he could’ve slotted at center or power forward. I rated Brook Lopez as having the fourth-most impactful defensive season, which kicked Adebayo to forward – a spot that otherwise could have gone to someone like Jayson Tatum or LeBron James.

The toughest call was Chris Paul as second-team guard over a deep field of competitors, including three Bucks (Eric Bledsoe, Wesley Matthews and Donte DiVincenzo).

A note on the Raptors, who had the NBA’s second-best defense but no players mentioned here: Their success came from having several solid defenders and a good defensive coach.

Keith Smith

First team

G: Marcus Smart, Celtics

G: Ben Simmons, 76ers

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

F: Anthony Davis, Lakers

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Second team

G: Patrick Beverley, Clippers

G: Danny Green, Lakers

F: Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

F: Pascal Siakam, Raptors

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

The three frontcourt slots on my All-Defense first-team were easy: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid were my 1-2-3 for Defensive Player of the Year. The backcourt slots weren’t much harder. Marcus Smart deserves this spot simply based on the fact that he’s defended everyone from Chris Paul to Kristaps Porzingis this year and he’s defended them well. Ben Simmons is a bit more of a challenge, since he’s only so much of a “guard” on defense. But he has defended more perimeter players this year than usual and done an excellent job on them.

Does it seem weird to see Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gobert on the second team? It does to me! But that tells you how much I value what the top three frontcourt players have done this year. Pascal Siakam joins them, because in addition to his breakout offensive season, he’s been the driving force behind the Raptors very good defense as well. And two Los Angeles guards, Patrick Beverley of the Clippers and Danny Green of the Lakers, round out the squad. Both have been key members of two of NBA’s best defenses and have earned this recognition.