Earlier this evening, the NBA released their All-Defense Teams, and to no surprise, Clippers’ players Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard made the Second Team. The First Team was composed of Marcus Smart and Ben Simmons at guard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis at forward, and Rudy Gobert at center. Joining Beverley and Leonard on the Second Team were Eric Bledsoe at guard, Bam Adebayo at forward, and Brook Lopez at center.
Beverley and Leonard were two key perimeter players for a Clippers’ team that ranked 5th in Defensive Rating in the regular season despite injuries and lack of cohesion. Beverley’s communication, fire, and hustle make him a constant irritant on the court, while Leonard can do things on defense that perhaps no other player (other than a fully locked in LeBron?) can (see yesterday’s one-finger block).
It’s tough to say either should have been 1st team – Beverley is smaller and less versatile than Smart or Simmons, and Leonard played much less and was generally less impactful than Giannis and Davis. Guys like Jrue Holiday and Kyle Lowry certainly had arguments over Beverley as well, but both Beverley and Kawhi were certainly worthy of their All Defense placements. Their contributions on defense in addition to their varying roles on offense have made them hugely valuable to the Clips as two-way players, and each will have big roles to play for the Clippers in the weeks to come.
Paul George also received three votes for the second team, but no other Clipper garnered any support. If George had played more games he probably would have had stronger consideration, but it would have been tough to place him this season.
Congratulations to Kawhi and Pat on the achievement! This is Pat’s 3rd All-Defense Team nomination (he made 2nd team in 2014 and 1st team in 2017) and Kawhi’s 6th (2nd team in 2014 and 2019, 1st from 2015-2017). They are two of the best perimeter defenders of the decade, and fully deserving of adding another accolade to their wall.