NBA Defense Team Rankings - 2022 Defensive Rankings (2022)

We have several defensive categories here, and these are the most crucial for team defensive success in the NBA. What is shown is the overall ranking each team sits at in comparison to the rest of the league. Most of these stats are going to be stats that are allowed, such as points, rebounds, and assists. You can also break down how good a team is at rebounding. If a team is allowing 115 points per game, then they are going to rank lower on the list. Teams will have green, yellow, and red tabs to show you if they are in the top third, middle third, or lower third of the league.

Defenses are also going to rank by stats like steals and blocks, which are going to be on themselves. Now, this isn’t a complete way to view defense as you can see some struggling defenses generate a lot of blocks or steals, while some defenses don’t, but limit points against. One of the crucial areas is limiting shooting percentage from the field and from three, which is shown in the table above. Defensive rating is an overall look at how good a defense is, and one of the better stats to evaluate how good or bad a defense is.

What Good Defenses Excel At

There are a lot of factors that go into being a strong defense, and there are still quite a few teams that pride themselves on playing defense. While it may not be every night, the top ten here are going to limit production against them most nights. One of the key areas we notice some consistency in is rebounding. Good defenses are strong rebounding teams on both sides of the ball. There might be an outlier here or there for any of these stats, but rebounding is one thing that ties into a good defense. You are not giving up second-chance points and it is also going to transition into more offensive chances.

Allowing a low three-point and field goal percentage is going to be big for defenses. This of course translates into a lot of other stats where you are not allowing a lot of points or assists because the shots of course aren’t going in. Having teams shoot for a low field goal percentage is going to make their offense inefficient, especially with the three-point craze there is nowadays. These are going to correlate with field goals and three points allowed. It also will go hand in hand with defensive rating. Now when a team plays at a higher pace they might allow more threes and field goals but can still make it tough on offenses percentages.

Now steals and blocks are not necessarily telling for a good defense as you will see some of the defenses in the top ten do not have great block or steals numbers. Some on the lower half will. While it certainly helps a defense forcing turnovers and blocking shots, but it isn’t a must for being a good defense. Overall defense is going to be more about making it tough on your opponent through their shooting, rather than turnover stats.

Looking at the table and seeing how these teams are built, there are a lot of similarities. For one, a majority of the top ten teams have a strong rim protector to lock down the middle and make it tough on teams to score at the rim. They also have a lot of length at their wing positions and have a few guys that specify more on the defensive side compared to being offensive players. They also play a great team style of basketball that moves the ball around offensively, but they also work well defensively and are not selfish. When looking at the bottom of the table here, you see a lot of inefficient teams on both sides of the ball and are also just missing defensive personnel from their roster.

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How Pace Affects Defensive Rankings

Not all teams play at the same pace, and that is going to affect their defensive rankings. For example, a team that plays at a slower pace will have a slight edge in field goals and three-point shots made against them. However, they may not have more steals or blocks because of fewer chances, and also not grab a ton of rebounds because the pace knocks them off a bit. Other teams that have a high pace will have more field goals and three points allowed, but also might have more turnover stats because their game style creates more chances. Pace can give more volume to certain stats, so it is important to factor that in when looking at some of these rankings.

Is There Correlation Between A Team’s Offense And Defense?

No matter the sport there is usually some correlation between offense and defensive numbers as they rely on each other to be productive. In basketball, having a great offense isn’t as meaningful for a defense, and vice versa. As we look at the current table above, there are a few teams that have high scoring offenses but have some of the worst defenses in the league. The same goes for top defenses where they have average to below-average offenses. Now, of course, the elite teams in the league are going to rank in the top half on both sides of the ball, but there isn’t a high correlation between offensive and defensive rankings.

This comes down how teams are built. For example, the Portland Trail Blazers are built with more offensive firepower and don’t have a lot of defensive presence to bail them out of games where the offense isn’t firing. The same goes for the Orlando Magic who have a lot of strong defensive players, but scoring has been a struggle for them over the last few seasons. Teams of course want players who play well on both sides of the ball, but that isn’t always the case. Then it is up to them to put together a strong roster of players who can mesh well.

Best Defenses In NBA History

The Boston Celtics have produced some of the best defensive seasons of all-time, and have done it in multiple eras. Going back to the 1963-64 season, the Boston Celtics dominated defensively, and Bill Russell was a major reason why. They had a defensive rating of 83.8 and won 59 total games. Most teams struggled to even get 80 points against this Boston squad. The year after the defensive rating was at 84.2, and they won 62 games. Once against Russell was one of the top names to mention here, but names like Sam Jones, and both Tom Heinsohn and Tom Sanders were strong frontcourt options. During this Boston run, they produced each season with some of the best defensive ratings in the history of basketball. Jumping to another era, the Celtics in 2007-08 were one of the best teams of all-time. They won 66 games and had a 98.9 defensive rating. This was the year the big three came together and Doc Rivers was sitting at the helm.

In the early 2000s we saw powerhouse dynasties in San Antonio and Los Angeles. However, the Spurs had one of the best defenses of all-time with a collective effort from names like Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen. The Spurs cleaned up the defensive categories compared to the rest of the league, allowing only five teams to score more than 100 points. The 1992 New York Knicks had names like Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and John Starks. They had a 99.7 defensive rating that season and were a team that relied on blocking shots and causing a lot of turnovers. They were also one of the best rebounding teams in the game. The year after they had another strong defensive season.

Detroit had a few eras where the defense was their top priority. During there run in the mid-2000s, they had one of the best defenses of all-time and ruined the NBA’s reign of the big market teams winning championships. The Pistons had a defensive rating of 95.4 that season and were led by names like Ben Wallace, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Chauncey Billups. Another San Antonio team that crushed was the 1998 team who had David Robinson and a young Tim Duncan, who had one of the best defensive seasons ever for a player below 25 years old. A hard-nosed team in the Eastern Conference is the Indiana Pacers and the 2013 season they had one of the best defensive ratings in NBA history.

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There have been a lot of Spurs and Celtics teams on this list, and that is because they have been powerhouses over several decades. There have been some one-off teams to produce strong defensive seasons too. The 1974 Washington Bullets had a 91.3 defensive rating and one 60 games, this was also during a time when we saw more defensive play and offenses were not as good as they are today. The Chicago Bulls in 2010 had a defensive rating of 100 and won 62 games. This team allowed over 100 points just 15 times and had a lot of strong defenders on this roster. The 2006 team a few years before also produced a strong season. The same goes for the Celtics and Spurs during that era.

FAQ

  • Who Has The Best Defense In The NBA 2021?

  • Who Has The Worst Defense In The NBA 2021?

  • What NBA Team Is Allowing The Most Points?

  • What NBA Team Is Allowing The Fewest Points?

  • What NBA Team Has The Most Blocks?

  • What NBA Team Has The Best And Worst Defensive Rating?

Who Has The Best Defense In The NBA 2021?

The Lakers are the best defense in the league, allowing just 105 points per game this season, and sit with the best defensive rating. With Anthony Davis in the middle of the defense and him being a reigning defensive player of the year it is no surprise.

Who Has The Worst Defense In The NBA 2021?

The Sacramento Kings are the worst defense in the league. They are allowing 123.6 points per game this season and allowing teams to shoot over 50% from the field. Teams are also having a field day from three and in the West that is a problem.

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What NBA Team Is Allowing The Most Points?

The Sacramento Kings are allowing 123.6 points per game this season, which is the most in the NBA. They are allowing teams to shoot over 40% from thre and allowing a lot of second-chance points.

What NBA Team Is Allowing The Fewest Points?

The New York Knicks are currently allowing the fewest points per game this season at 102.7. They play at a slow pace in comparison to the rest of the NBA and also have brought in some defensive minded players to play under Thibs.

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What NBA Team Has The Most Blocks?

The Philadelphia 76ers have the most blocks in the NBA and average 7.1 per game. Joel Embiid is a force at the rim and is one of the major reasons why the 76ers are one of the top defensive teams in the league.

What NBA Team Has The Best And Worst Defensive Rating?

The Los Angeles Lakers have the best defensive rating this season at 104.5. The Sacramento Kings are the worst defense based off defensive rating numbers, sitting over 120. Remember the lower the number the better for defensive rating.

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FAQs

Which team has the best defensive rating in the NBA 2022? ›

The Golden State Warriors had the best defensive rating by a team in 2021-22, with a 106.9 rating.

Which team is the best Defensive team in the NBA? ›

Who is the number one defensive team in 2022? ›

Since January 1, 2022, the Boston Celtics have the best defensive rating by a team, with a 106.7 rating.

Who has the best defensive rating in the NBA right now? ›

Defensive Rating
1.Dennis Smith Jr.CHA66.0
2.Nick RichardsCHA73.3
3.Kelly Oubre Jr.CHA74.0
4.Jevon CarterMIL78.3
5.Josh GreenDAL79.4
5 more rows

Is defensive rating accurate? ›

Thus, the data analysis seems to suggest that defensive rating is not a great measure of a player's defensive ability/impact alone, as it does not have a favorable correlation with an important defensive metric in Steals Per Game. Another significant defensive statistic of comparison is a player's Blocks Per Game.

Which NBA team has the best offense? ›

NBA Team Offensive Efficiency
RankTeam2022
1Boston1.210
2Dallas1.189
3New Orleans1.188
4Cleveland1.163
26 more rows

Who leads the NBA in defensive win shares? ›

NBA/ABA
RankPlayerDWS
1.Bill Russell*133.64
2.Tim Duncan*106.34
3.Kareem Abdul-Jabbar*94.49
4.Hakeem Olajuwon*94.47
143 more rows

Who is the greatest defensive player in NBA history? ›

In this picture, there are two of the greatest defensive leaders in the NBA History; those two are Kevin Garnett and Bill Russell.
...
Best Defensive Leader: Bill Russell
  • Bill Russell.
  • Kevin Garnett.
  • Ben Wallace.
  • Dikembe Mutombo.
  • Willis Reed.

Who has the lowest defensive rating NBA? ›

Elmore Smith has the lowest career defensive rating, with a 93.8 rating.

What is NBA team defensive efficiency? ›

DEF EFF: Defensive Efficiency - the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions.

Is a low defensive rating good? ›

Lower is better. Remember with defensive rating a lower number is desired. This is how many points a team gives up per 100 possessions. A good defense will give up less points than a bad defense.

Who has the best offense in the NBA 2022? ›

The Utah Jazz had the best offensive rating by a team in 2021-22, with a 116.7 rating.

Who has the best defensive rating? ›

NBA/ABA
RankPlayerDRtg
1.Gar Heard95.30
2.Dave Cowens*95.52
3.Tim Duncan*95.57
4.David Robinson*95.65
147 more rows

What is the average defensive rating in the NBA 2022? ›

NBA league average defensive rating 2022
LEAGUESEASONPPG
NBA2021-22111.8
NBA2021-22106.5
NBA2021-22111.0
NBA2021-22104.8
13 more rows

How is team defensive rating calculated? ›

Formula. The formula is: Defensive Player Rating = (Players Steals*Blocks) + Opponents Differential= 1/5 of possessions - Times blown by + Deflections * OAPDW( Official Adjusted Players Defensive Withstand).

How do NBA players measure defense? ›

Defensive rating simply shows how many points a player allows per 100 possessions. This statistic works differently than a simple plus/minus system, where all points scored while a player is on the court count against him. Only the buckets that are scored as a result of his defensive lapses are counted against him.

Which NBA team has the fastest pace? ›

The Minnesota Timberwolves had the highest pace per game played by a team in 2021-22, with 1.23.
TEAMSEASONPACE
Detroit Pistons2021-2298.38
Chicago Bulls2021-2298.31
Portland Trail Blazers2021-2298.25
Indiana Pacers2021-22
13 more rows

What NBA team makes the most 3s? ›

NBA Team Three Pointers Made per Game
RankTeam2021
1Minnesota14.7
2Golden State14.3
3Utah14.1
4Charlotte13.9
26 more rows

Which NBA team has the best 3 point percentage? ›

The Miami Heat had the highest three-point percentage by a team in 2021-22, at 37.9 percent.
TEAMSEASON3P%
Miami Heat2021-2237.9
Atlanta Hawks2021-2237.4
L.A. Clippers2021-2237.4
Chicago Bulls2021-2236.9
14 more rows

Who is statistically the best NBA player? ›

NBA/ABA
RankPlayerPER
1.Michael Jordan*27.91
2.LeBron James27.34
3.Nikola Jokić27.09
4.Anthony Davis26.87
147 more rows

Who is the defensive player of the year in the NBA right now? ›

Marcus Smart receives the 2021-2022 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award from Gary Payton. Smart received 257 points (37 first-place votes) from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges finished in second place with 202 points (22 first-place votes).

Is Jokic good at defense? ›

Calling Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic an elite defender might look like an overstatement, but sometimes stats don't lie. So far, Jokic has the best defensive rating in his team (103.6 per 100 possessions).
...
Nikola Jokic.
MIN:32.69
PTS:25.54 (61.42%)
REB:13.94
As:7
ST:1.29
3 more rows
14 Jan 2022

Who is the best defender of all time in basketball? ›

  • Hakeem Olajuwon. Known for his blocks and rebounds, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon is one of the greatest NBA defenders to ever step foot on the court. ...
  • Bill Russell. ...
  • Wilt Chamberlain. ...
  • Gary Payton. ...
  • Michael Jordan. ...
  • David Robinson.
15 Dec 2021

Who is the best defender in the world? ›

1Top 10 best defenders in the world
S.noPlayer nameCareer Appearances
1Virgil Van Dijk445
2Sergio Ramos896
3Gerard Pique727
4Thiago Silva656
6 more rows
19 Oct 2021

Who is the best post defender of all time? ›

1. Bill Russell. Greatest post defense asset: Master of fundamentals. A guy that revolutionized defense in the league, Bill Russell is the greatest defender in the history of the NBA!

What is Kyrie Irving defensive rating? ›

Kyrie Irving has a defensive rating of 109.4 in his career.

Who is the highest scoring team in the NBA? ›

Points Per Game
1.Utah Jazz127.5
2.New Orleans Pelicans127.0
3.Golden State Warriors123.0
4.Memphis Grizzlies122.0
5.New York Knicks121.0

What NBA team has the best free throw percentage? ›

The Phoenix Suns shot 1,740 free throws this season. The made 1,451 of them. This comes out to an uncanny 83.39 percent, good enough to make them the best free-throw shooting team in NBA history.

What is LeBron's career defensive rating? ›

LeBron James has a defensive rating of 103.8 in his career.

Which NBA team has the best offense 2022? ›

The Utah Jazz had the highest offensive rating by a team in 2021-22, with a 116.7 rating.

What is defensive rating in NBA? ›

Defensive Rating. Just as Oliver's Offensive Rating represents points produced by the player per 100 possessions consumed, his Defensive Rating estimates how many points the player allowed per 100 possessions he individually faced while on the court.

What is the average NBA defensive rating? ›

NBA league average defensive rating 2021
LEAGUESEASONPPG
NBA2020-21112.6
NBA2020-21107.0
NBA2020-21113.7
NBA2020-21106.6
13 more rows

What NBA team makes the most 3s? ›

NBA Team Three Pointers Made per Game
RankTeam2021
1Minnesota14.7
2Golden State14.3
3Utah14.1
4Charlotte13.9
26 more rows

What NBA team has the fastest pace? ›

The Minnesota Timberwolves had the highest pace per game played by a team in 2021-22, with 1.23.
TEAMSEASONPACE
Detroit Pistons2021-2298.38
Chicago Bulls2021-2298.31
Portland Trail Blazers2021-2298.25
Indiana Pacers2021-22
13 more rows

What NBA team has the best free throw percentage? ›

Free Throw Percentage
1.Cleveland Cavaliers86.4
2.Miami Heat85.6
3.Atlanta Hawks85.3
4.Boston Celtics84.3
5.Philadelphia 76ers83.5

Who is favored to win NBA Finals? ›

Celtics favored to win 2022-23 NBA Finals.

Who has the best basketball record? ›

The best single regular season record was recorded by the Golden State Warriors in the 2015–16 season. In that season, the Warriors recorded 73 wins and 9 losses with a winning percentage of . 890, eclipsing the 1995–96 Chicago Bulls, though the Bulls went on to win the Eastern Conference and the NBA championship.

Is it better to have higher or lower defensive rating? ›

Defensive rating also eliminates factors like pace of play and minutes played per game. It is also important to note that as opposed to most other basketball stats, lower numbers are better when it comes to defensive rating.

What is the average defensive rating in the NBA 2022? ›

NBA league average defensive rating 2022
LEAGUESEASONPPG
NBA2021-22111.8
NBA2021-22106.5
NBA2021-22111.0
NBA2021-22104.8
13 more rows

Who is the best defender in basketball? ›

1. Hakeem Olajuwon
Steals/GBLK/GDPOY
1.73.12
12 Jul 2021

Who is the greatest defensive player in NBA history? ›

In this picture, there are two of the greatest defensive leaders in the NBA History; those two are Kevin Garnett and Bill Russell.
...
Best Defensive Leader: Bill Russell
  • Bill Russell.
  • Kevin Garnett.
  • Ben Wallace.
  • Dikembe Mutombo.
  • Willis Reed.

Who has the lowest defensive rating NBA? ›

Elmore Smith has the lowest career defensive rating, with a 93.8 rating.

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