Five Best Point of Attack Defenders Currently in the NBA
Point-of-attack defenders are more important than ever in today’s NBA. Especially with the offensive renaissance that has happened within the past decade. What exactly is a point of attack defender you ask? A point of attack defender is usually defined as a player who defends smaller ball handlers in pick-and-roll and isolation situations on the perimeter with limited off-ball responsibilities. With today’s elite featuring the likes of Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, and Trae Young, one can see why having one of these on your team is so important. With this in mind, here are the top five point of attack defenders currently in the NBA.
Five Best Current Point of Attack Defenders
5. Alex Caruso
Alex Caruso has made defense his calling card throughout his career. As a result, he has carved out a much better career than anyone thought he ever would have. It has helped the Los Angeles Lakers win a title in the 2020 season and even netted him a nice contract with the Chicago Bulls. He and Lonzo Ball form one of the better defensive backcourts in the league. However, if given the choice, many would consider Caruso the better point of attack defender.
In this clip, we see Caruso fight through many picks and recover extremely well. In many of those situations, he even forced a turnover or a missed shot. Not to mention, he does an extremely good job staying in front of his man with no help in isolation situations. Caruso’s numbers may not jump off the charts, but he did average a career-high 1.7 steals per game last year and his point of attack defense had a lot to do with this career-best.
4. Gary Payton II
Gary Payton II was vital to the Warriors’ championship run this season. Especially in the playoffs. You can tell he learned from the best in the ways of defending from his father, the great Gary Payton. Golden State was able to unlock his potential as he had his best year this season with career-highs in steals per game, total rebounds per game, and points per game. This past postseason was where he shined the brightest though.
In this clip, not only do we see Payton II handle his point of attack duties against smaller ball handlers well, we also see him get the best of some of the better stars in the NBA. He is able to disrupt the likes of Nikola Jokic, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum. This was the primary reason the Portland Trail Blazers were willing to sign Gary Payton II to a nice deal this free agency.
3. Matisse Thybulle
Matisse Thybulle has became one of the staples of the Philadelphia 76ers’ future. Though he sometimes defends wings, he is primarily in charge of handling the point of attack duties on the defensive end for Philadelphia. He will be able to focus more on that now that the 76ers signed PJ Tucker this offseason.
In this clip, we see Thybulle able to block or steal the ball away from players such as James Harden and Steph Curry with no help at all. An impressive feat considering who he primarily is guarding for the majority of the games. Not to mention, Thybulle may have the best ability to recover when he does get beat out of all the defenders on this list.
2. Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart won the Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. For years now, he has made his calling card by being a pest on the defensive end of the floor. The Celtics know that he is just as important as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to their success ALA Draymond Green to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. One look at his numbers shows why he did win the Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged 1.7 steals per game to go along with a defensive box plus/minus of 1.7. Not to mention, this past season, players such as Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Luka Doncic were held under 10 points when guarded by Smart. The clip below also proves how elite of a point of attack defender Marcus Smart is in today’s NBA.
1. Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday is still the best of the best in terms of today’s perimeter defenders. Not to mention, he is also the best point of attack defender we have today. One could make the argument he was the missing piece to Milwaukee’s team during their title run in the 2021-22 campaign. Holiday is normally tasked with guarding the best guard on the opposing team. What is more impressive is how he does it so well with little to no help at all.
He can do everything you need from a point of attack defender at a high level. He fights through picks, he recovers well when beaten off the dribble, and he disrupts smaller ball handlers with ease. On top of that, he held players such as Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Darius Garland, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander below 45.0 percent shooting when guarded by him last year. With all of this in mind, Jrue Holiday is still the best point of attack defender in today’s NBA.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images