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10 Worst Defenses In The NBA Right Now: The Boston Celtics Should Focus More On Defense Than On "Passing The Ball"

10 Worst Defenses In The NBA Right Now: The Boston Celtics Should Focus More On Defense Than On "Passing The Ball"

The NBA has made significant rule changes to favor defensive players a little bit more by reducing flopping foul calls and encouraging offensive players to be more honest. We have seen how these rules have affected players such as James Harden and Trae Young, and quite frankly, the game is much better to watch this way. With greater value placed on defense, how are teams playing defense?

So far, the Denver Nuggets have done a tremendous job at limiting opposing teams’ scoring and have placed extra attention on slowing down superstar players. That is why the Nuggets have the #1 ranked offense in the league, allowing only 96.8 PPG. But what about teams that have struggled to get stops? There are a ton of teams in the NBA right now that are sieves on defense, leading to multiple possessions where open shots and easy layups are being given up on a nightly basis.

We have collected the 10 worst-ranked defenses, based on OPPG, to discover which teams need to place more value on stopping players. While some of these teams are expected to be on this list, there might be some surprises based on the type of talent on their rosters. Defense is played with motivation and dedication, and these teams have done an awful job of showing either so far.


10. San Antonio Spurs - 110.4 PPG

Long gone are the days where teams fear the San Antonio Spurs, as they have nothing more than an average team in a competitive Western Conference. That is not to say they are complete pushovers, as they are capable of keeping games close by way of their incredible coaching. But a 2-5 record to start the season is mainly due to their inconsistent defense, as they are giving up 37.1% shooting from the arc. In basic terms, they cannot defend the three that well and have a tendency to get scorched by hot shooting.

The Spurs do not have any recognizable defenders outside of Dejounte Murray, but the guard is rather slender and cannot impact a game physically like a forward or big can. San Antonio gave up 131 points to the Indiana Pacers in their last game, and cannot seem to find any consistency in their perimeter or interior defense. The Spurs should not be making the playoffs this year although Gregg Popovich on the sidelines could somehow change that.


9. New Orleans Pelicans - 111.0 PPG

New Orleans has been an absolute disaster, and things could get worse for them as the season continues. Zion Williamson has not played a single game this season and has seemingly ballooned to over 300 lbs. The superstar was supposed to be the face of the NBA, but he has not been able to stay healthy enough to reach his potential. As things stand, the Pelicans look in trouble. Giving up 39.0% shooting from three is not a good number, and basic things such as rotating to the shooter have been a struggle. It leads one to wonder if Stan Van Gundy was really the problem.

Especially on defense, New Orleans have shown zero consistency in the early season. Zion’s presence would be a massive lift, but giving up over 117 points 3 times this season is unacceptable. Even in the modern league catering to explosive offenses, the Pelicans look shell-shocked at times when dealing with offensive players. The Pelicans are praying for Zion’s health because they need a savior at this point.


8. Orlando Magic - 111.5 PPG

The Orlando Magic are tanking and they are making it clear to their fans from now, especially after trading their entire starting lineup last season. Wendell Carter Jr, Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, and Mo Bamba have all shown promise but are not ready to win games for the Magic just yet. One of their main problems during a 2-6 start has been their atrocious defense, giving up 111.5 PPG to teams such as the Pistons and Raptors. The Magic are not a great team, but they should at least be able to lock in on other average teams as they try to remain slightly competitive.

Orlando’s defense will see huge improvements after Jonathan Isaac returns to full health. The 6’11” forward is long and lanky, meaning he could be a versatile defender and one of the core pieces for the Magic moving forward. Without Isaac and a bunch of young players navigating their way in the league, Orlando will be in the lottery as they look for more promising draft picks.


7. Sacramento Kings - 111.8 PPG

We are not sure what to expect from the Kings this season, especially since a few of their players are on the trading block. Buddy Hield has been dangled in trade offers for at least two seasons, Marvin Bagley III is available, and the franchise are solely focused on building around De’Aaron Fox. Tyrese Haliburton is also a promising young player who brings a lot on offense.

Unfortunately for the Kings, none of those names have been terrific on defense. The Kings are nearly giving up 112 PPG through 7 games this season, and have suffered their losses against teams with offensive superstars. Sacramento has not been able to find answers for dominant scorers such as Donovan Mitchell or Luka Doncic this season, and without a true superstar of their own, that trend could continue. The Kings could be due for a big roster shakeup at some point, whether this season or the next because mediocrity is one of the worst places to be for an NBA franchise.


6. Milwaukee Bucks - 111.9 PPG

Milwaukee appearing with the 6th worst defense is mainly due to the fact that they seem hungover from their championship run last year. No one is worried about the Bucks starting the season 4-4, because the defending champions have shown they can turn it on at both ends of the floor when needed. Especially since we are still at the beginning of November, the Bucks should finish the season as one of the best teams in the league. The Bucks had the 4th best defense last year and were dominant on that end in the playoffs when it truly mattered thanks to their collective talent.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate every year, and he has a ton of help at that end as well. Jrue Holiday is an All-Defensive Team performer, Khris Middleton is a star at that end, and Brook Lopez is a great shot-blocker. Losing PJ Tucker hurts, but the Bucks can shut teams down when they are in the zone and it just has not happened yet.


5. Los Angeles Lakers - 112.0 PPG

The Lakers are surprisingly on this list because they are still having chemistry issues. Russell Westbrook is not known for being a disciplined defender, LeBron is 36, and offensive role player Carmelo Anthony has never been known as a stopper. The Lakers could have trouble defending superstar players throughout the season, but they have a ton of potential in their interior. As they showed last year (2nd in defense), the Lakers have a great defensive-minded coach and a ton of size.

Anthony Davis is one of the best defensive bigs, and he is joined by the likes of Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. Their raw size across the court makes their defense intimidating, but they need time to gel on both ends of the floor. The Lakers are 4-3 so far so growing pains until All-Star break will be expected. After that, there are no more excuses. LeBron James is the best leader in the game and he will have confidence in himself and the coaching staff to make the right adjustments to get them back into the top-10 rankings in defense.


4. Indiana Pacers - 113.3 PPG

Indiana is having an awful start to the season, and a 2-6 record places them behind Detroit as the worst team in the East. The Pacers have been in the running for Ben Simmons for a while, and they should seriously make a big offer for him because their defense needs it. Other than the shot-blocking presence of Myles Turner, the Pacers have not been able to find guys who deliver on that end. Of course, Turner has been involved in trade talks across the league as well.

Indiana has given up 135 points to the Wizards, 110 points to the Cavaliers, and 123 to the Charlotte Hornets. Clearly, their perimeter defense is poor as they are too concerned with scoring the ball. The Pacers have some nice talent on the roster, but their pieces do not look like they fit together. If Indiana cannot stop the bleeding on defense, they could be in the lottery at the end of the year.


3. Memphis Grizzlies - 114.1 PPG

The Memphis Grizzlies have a winning record at 4-3 so far, mainly thanks to their budding superstar Ja Morant. Morant is making a ton of noise in the West, averaging 28.3 PPG and 7.7 APG in his third NBA season. The young man is extremely explosive and has already shown he can take over games with his incredible offense. The Grizzlies have a very bright future because of that.

But there is one issue: their defense. Memphis is giving up 114.1 PPG, although they have played some very good teams including the Nuggets and Clippers. The Grizzlies have not had many easy games to start the season, and Jaren Jackson Jr is still playing his way back into shape. Memphis should see an improvement in their defensive numbers but right now, it looks pretty ugly 1 month into the season.


2. Charlotte Hornets - 115.0 PPG

Charlotte have done very well through 8 games, going 5-3 on the back of their budding superstar LaMelo Ball. Ball is averaging 20.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 6.1 APG in his second season and looks primed to make his first All-Star Team selection. Alongside Ball, the likes of Miles Bridges (23.1 PPG) and Gordon Hayward (16.6 PPG) are holding their own of offense. But despite their decent record so far, the defense has not been that impressive.

Giving up over 110 points to the Cleveland Cavaliers twice so far this season will not cut it, even though Ball keeps making headlines with his play or outfits off the court. Charlotte do not have any reputable defenders, and they will likely make the playoffs through their offense rather than their defense. So far, poor defense has not affected them too much but it could catch up to them at some point.


1. Boston Celtics - 119.7 PPG

Marcus Smart has come out and blasted the two stars of the team, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown because they are not passing the ball enough. Blowing a 19-point lead against the Chicago Bulls and losing by double-digits was unacceptable and is due to their awful defense, not their offense. The Celtics cannot defend their own shadows, and the stronger teams of the NBA and taking full advantage. Through 7 games, Boston are 2-5 so far this year.

The Celtics have made quite a few changes to start the season, such as hiring Ime Udoka as their new head coach and moving forward without Kemba Walker at the starting point guard spot. The team clearly needs time to gel, but the Celtics are not convincing anyone as title contenders now or in the near future. Smart’s comments are eye-opening, but the main focus should be their defense and not “passing the ball”.

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