Shot blocking and protecting the rim are abilities most big men may crave and try to develop and improve, as their main job down low is to be the last obstacle between offensive players and a made basket.
Back in the day, most big men were deadly shot blockers that just weren’t going to allow you get anything for free in the paint, making you pay the price if you dare to try and go at them and make a bucket.
Nowadays, with the league going smaller, softer and more oriented towards the perimeter, the good old shot-blocking center is kind of a dying species, with most of them just trying to master the art of scoring and developing shooting range.
Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 best big men in the league that are just horrible rim protectors despite being terrific offensive players.
10. Robin Lopez – 0.8 blocks per game
Robin Lopez has clearly always been the less talented Lopez brother, and by a long shot, lacking the kind of offensive skill set his brother Brook has always had, but being a far better rebounder.
Still, RoLo isn’t your average hard-nosed defensive minded center, although he’s improved a bit over the last couple of campaigns. Nevertheless, his 1.2 blocks per game are nothing to brag about considering he spends most of the time playing below the rim.
9. Aaron Gordon – 0.7 blocks per game
Aaron Gordon has emerged as a very solid young big man and he’s a talented scorer and rebounder at the power forward spot, but he’s still quite slow and kind of heavy when it comes to defending quicker opposition.
Also, despite his great leaping ability and high jumping, he’s extremely slow to recover and doesn’t have much of a feel for shot blocking, averaging just 0.6 swats per game over his 4 season career.
8. Marcin Gortat – 0.7 blocks per game
Considering Marcin Gortat’s a guy people refer to as “The Polish Hammer”, he should be way more of a physical presence down low that he’s been throughout his whole career, especially being as much of a trash talker as he is.
Obviously, messing up with this guy isn’t a good idea, but he’s never been the dominant defender we all expected him to be when he first entered the league, recording just 1.2 blocks per game through his career.
7. Jonas Valanciunas – 0.7 blocks per game
Jonas Valanciunas is another prime example of a guy with the skillset and physical development that could be a deadly rim protector but rather to play kind of far from the basket unless the team runs and old school pick and roll play.
Valanciunas has only been able to average 1 block per game throughout his entire career, and many people blame him for some of the defensive woes that have hurt the Raptors prior to Serge Ibaka’s arrival.
6. Nikola Jokic – 0.7 blocks per game
Nikola Jokic is a nightly triple-double threat with his shooting stroke (he’s a 33% shooter from beyond the arc) and his crafty playmaking ability (recording 5.5 assists per game through this season), but he’s just a terrible defender.
He was one of the team’s scapegoats in the defensive end the past campaign, but truth to be told, the Nuggets defensive scheme was all over the place. Still, the Joker has only been able to block 0.7 shots per game through his career.
5. Julius Randle – 0.6 blocks per game
Julius Randle has a solid season with the Lakers, but when we talk about blocks, he is one of the worst blockers on the court.
With just 0.6 blocks per game, he should work in this field and improve the defensive skills if he wants to become one of the best power forward in the NBA.
4. Dirk Nowitzki – 0.5 blocks per game
There are few bad things you can say about the 20-year veteran, but one of them is that he’s always been quite a slow and bad defender, not to mention his clear inability to jump and block shots.
Still, he’s a lock to make the Hall of Fame after 20+ seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, over 30 thousand career points, and averages of 21.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 dimes per game, although his 0.9 blocked shots per contest are nothing to brag about.
3. Kevin Love – 0.5 blocks
Kevin Love has been a major asset for both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Cleveland Cavaliers throughout his entire career with his rebounding skills and ability to put the rock on the ground and even connect from beyond the arc.
Through his career, Love has put averages of 18.3 points, 11.3 points and 2.3 dimes per contest, but his lateral quickness and athleticism are pretty much nonexistent, recording just 0.5 blocks per game throughout 10 campaigns.
2. Blake Griffin – 0.3 blocks per game
The newest addition of the Detroit Pistons has always been cataloged as soft on the defensive end of the floor, and even though he’s kind of improved a bit in that aspect of his game, he’s still far behind from his offensive skill set.
Griffin is a very good rebounder (although his numbers have taken a slight dip over the last few campaigns) and has good hands to force turnovers, but he’s a horrible shot blocker with just 0.6 swats per game over his career.
1. Zach Randolph – 0.2 blocks per game
Zach Randolph is slow, heavy and unathletic, but his ability to gain and maintain position and bully his way into the paint have made him one of the most productive tweener big men we’ve seen in a very long while.
Still, being pretty much unable to jump, he’s never been much of a rim protector whatsoever, averaging just 0.3 blocks per game, with just 298 blocks over his career despite being around for 17 years.