Ranking the 10 best lockdown defensive prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft

Jarace Walker, Houston Cougars - Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jarace Walker, Houston Cougars - Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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With just two weeks until the 2023 NBA draft, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. While scoring buckets is the most important part of basketball, the need to be a good defender in today’s NBA has taken on even more importance with the smart, cerebral offenses that every team can trot out.

At the top of the draft, Victor Wembanyama is a sensational center prospect who is both a major mismatch on offense and an eldritch horror on defense. Outside of Wembanyama, however, there are a number of centers and non-centers who also figure to make a notable impact on the defensive end even in their rookie year.

When considering defense, there’s an important idea to consider: even if a guard prospect is a great defender, they can only have so much of an impact compared to a rim protector. Being an intimidating interior presence grants a player more of an overall chance to change the complexion of a game than just being a lockdown perimeter defender.

That’s part of the reason that only Marcus Smart, Gary Payton, Kawhi Leonard, and Ron Artest have won defensive player of the year awards at positions other than power forward or center over the last thirty seasons. While there are a bunch of great perimeter defenders in the draft class, they won’t be as important as others at the NBA level.

They still deserve credit for their excellent talents, however, alongside the towering monoliths who guard the rim. Thus, without further ado, here are the best defenders in this draft class!