Everybody wants to be recognized for their defense, but not everyone is willing to consistently do the dirty, sweaty, and exhausting work, except for a handful. It’s mainly why the All-Defensive team selections get interestingly strange from time to time, like this year.

The first team

In case you’re counting, yes, that’s four centers in the first team. Outside of natural forward Herb Jones (New Orleans Pelicans), the squad is consisted of fives: 2023-24 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert (Minnesota Timberwolves), 2023-24 Rookie of the Year and DPOY runner-up Victor Wembanyama (San Antonio Spurs), and power forward/centers Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers) and Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat).

Make no mistake about it, though, all are very much deserving of the recognition. Gobert just bagged his record-tying fourth DPOY win by anchoring the Timberwolves’ number one-ranked defense, so he’s pretty much automatic. Wemby, on the other hand, took the league by storm as a rookie, and led the NBA in blocks at 3.6 per game. He has also earned this kind of intimidation, even when outnumbered on a fastbreak:

Adebayo remains as a two-way machine, leading the Heat’s defensive presence that brought the team into ranking third in points allowed and defensive rating. As per usual, he’s still versatile enough to competitively guard all positions, especially frontcourt opponents.

Davis shed criticism of being hurt often and his “Day-to-Davis” tag by playing in a career-high 76 games this season. He also showcased well on defense with 1.2 steals (third among centers) and 2.3 blocks per game (fourth overall), as well as a third-best 4.7 defensive win shares. He was basically the heart and soul and lone consistent good defender of a Laker team that finished 23rd on points allowed and 16th in defensive rating.

Finally, Jones rounds out the list as an active, no-nonsense, long-armed forward that reliably guards the best player on the opposing team. He aids the Pelicans’ eight-ranked defense and allows top scorers Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram to lax on defense.

The second team

From a center-clogged five, the second team then filled its lineup with natural guards. Excluding forward Jaden McDaniels (T-Wolves), it’s one guard after another with veteran floor general Jrue Holiday (Boston Celtics) and two-guards Alex Caruso (Chicago Bulls), Derrick White (Celtics), and Jalen Suggs (Orlando Magic).

It’s a pretty good second team regardless. Holiday and White form the only two-way backcourt tandem in the NBA, arguably making them the league’s best starting guards; Caruso is a strong guard that can defend multiple positions and finished third in steals (1.7 SPG); Suggs is an energizer bunny and pest who tied for seventh in steals (1.4 SPG); and McDaniels, like his teammate Gobert, played a ton of role in Minnesota’s rise into a championship contender as a smart and aggressive defender.

As always, some will argue that a couple of players got snubbed, perhaps most notably Oklahoma City Thunder running mates Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished second in steals at 2.0 SPG, and Chet Holmgren, who, in turn, tied for fourth in blocks at 2.3 BPG, alongside Davis.

In the end, though, everyone who got a nod has a strong argument for getting their selections, so it’s really tough to say. Maybe it’s one reason that defense isn’t a lost art in today’s era?