The art of shot blocking can be seen in most Top 10 plays released by the NBA. Blocks are always featured as a mesmerizing event where a player defies gravity to stop another. It is a fundamental part of the NBA where a defender defeats the offensive player. Who can forget LeBron’s one-handed block on Tiago Splitter during the 2013 Finals or Tayshaun Prince’s chase down block of Reggie Miller in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004.
Blocks have characterized NBA defense, as perimeter players can let point guards and slashers go through the lane hoping that their center will get the block. Guys like Dikembe Mutombo, Manute Bol and Ben Wallace have made a living off of getting weak side blocks as help defenders. Who doesn’t love a nice Mutombo finger-wag after a block, or a Wallace scream to Fear the Fro.
A new line of shot blockers have come to the league, some with the athleticism of a young Mutombo, and others with the savvy positional defense of Mark Eaton. Here, we’ll be counting down a list of the top 10 shot blockers in the NBA this season. We have new emerging stars who can fly through the air like Anthony Davis, and others who rely on their position on the floor and the set up of their teammates for them to get blocks. Nonetheless, the art of shot blocking in the NBA is still heavily relied upon, and makes for a great Top 10 on SportsCenter.
10. Robin Lopez, 1.58 BPG, Salary: $5,904,261
Robin Lopez is commonly known for his hair that reminds us of Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons. After five years in the league, he has moved around to three different teams and seems to have found his niche in Portland. This season, he is earning a whopping $5.9 million with Portland. Lopez cracks the top 10 of NBA shot blockers this year at 1.58 blocks per game.
While averaging 10.7 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game, Lopez proves that he is not in the shadow of his all-star brother Brooke Lopez. Robin has evolved into a player that is far from a one-trick pony, but is valuable to a team that was in desperate need of a center who could clean up the glass and earn extra possessions for an offense that relies on three-point shooters.
9. Andre Drummond, 1.80 BPG, Salary: $2,462,400
As a second year player, Andre Drummond has not ceased to amaze anyone in the basketball world. Standing at 6’11, Drummond has shown that he is one of the most athletic, young big men in the league. Although he is only 20 years old, Drummond’s help defense is as strong as if he was a five year veteran. Averaging around 1.80 blocks, Drummond is proving himself as one of the best shot blockers in the game today.
He does it as a player who never has plays run for him on offense, so all he does is chase rebounds and get alley-oops. He battles with Josh Smith and Greg Monroe on his own team for playing time in the post, and brings the prowess of a defensive monster.
8. Dwight Howard, 1.87 BPG, Salary: $20,513,178
There’s no surprise here, as Dwight Howard was voted Defensive Player of the Year from 2009-2011. Besides that, he also led the Orlando Magic to the Finals in 2009. Averaging 1.87 blocks per game, Howard is nowhere near his career high of 2.9 blocks per game, but doesn’t have the same role with the Houston Rockets this year.
This is the second season he’s played after major back surgery and it seems that there’s a new Dwight in town. A year after essentially being chased out of Los Angeles by the Lakers, Dwight reminds us that he is still a defensive force to be reckoned with.
7. Andrew Bogut, 1.92 BPG, Salary: $14,000,000
Andrew Bogut was traded to the Golden State Warriors in March 2012 and hasn’t looked back to the Bucks once. Although he’s not averaging career highs in points, rebounds, or blocks, Bogut is averaging a career high in field goal percentage at 63.6%, while also getting 1.92 blocks per game.
Bogut doesn’t block like our previous entrants. He uses his position defense and long arms to deflect shots in the paint instead of relying on athleticism. He truly makes us understand what it is to be a great position defender.
3 Tim Duncan, 2.00 BPG, Salary: $10,361,446
Is there really anything else to say about Tim Duncan? As a 4-time World Champion, 8-Time All Defensive Team, 2-Time MVP, there’s very little that Tim Duncan hasn’t done in his career. On top of all that, he’s arguably the best power forward to step foot on the hardwood. This year, he’s averaging 2.00 blocks per game, more than enough to stay amongst the league leaders.
At 37 years old, he shows us the value of rest and persistence in his game. Using his position and longer than 7-foot-wingspan, there’s no question of why Duncan is always amongst league leaders in blocks. The real question is, will he ever slow down?
5. John Henson, 2.14 BPG, Salary: $1,905,360
In his second year in the league, John Henson is proving to us that he deserves to be in the NBA supplying a niche market. Averaging 2.14 blocks per game, the young Buck demonstrates the advantages of having a 7’6 wingspan, 7 inches longer than his height.
Although he’s missed a handful of games this season due to injury, Henson has been a rare bright spot on the Bucks radar this year. It helps that fellow shot blocker Larry Sanders has been injured all year, giving Henson more space and time on the floor.
4. DeAndre Jordan, 2.41 BPG, Salary: $10,986,550
As a second round pick for the Clippers, DeAndre Jordan is showing why the Clippers invested time into him. Averaging career highs in basically every category except for free throw and field goal percentage, DeAndre is showing that he’s had new life under new coach Doc Rivers.
Doc Rivers has been getting a lot of love for developing DJ over the summer and it’s easy to see why. Averaging 2.41 blocks per game, DJ has turned into a new player, looking more confident and comfortable on the floor alongside Blake Griffin. In his 6th season, DJ is making a strong push for Defensive Player of the Year.
2 Roy Hibbert, 2.47 BPG, Salary: $14,283,844
Roy Hibbert has been rallying for a DPOY vote this year and it’s easy to see why he could win it. Leading the league’s best defense, Hibbert has brought a new game to the floor this year with his communication, help defense, and play as a 1-on-1 defender. There are no doubts that he has been able to bring Indiana to the next level to get home court advantage in the playoffs.
Averaging 2.47 blocks per game, Hibbert is providing a strong combination of offense and defense this year. Getting a career high in minutes, Hibbert is almost at his career high 2.6 blocks, and isn’t showing signs of slowing down.
1 Serge Ibaka, 2.53 BPG, Salary: $12,250,000
With nicknames like Air Congo and Iblocka, it’s kind of obvious the kind of defender Serge Ibaka is. Although not the best position defender, he makes up for it with his stellar weak side help defense, and an ability to block consecutive shots in a possession.
Averaging 2.53 blocks per game, Serge is showing why he led the league in shots blocked last year. With the athleticism to do the foul-line dunk in the dunk contest, at 6’10, Ibaka shows us that athleticism and a grinding attitude can achieve one of the highest honors in the Association.
1. Anthony Davis, 3.06 BPG, Salary: $5,375,760
In his second year in the league, this young gun is already an All-Star, known for an aesthetic look (the BROW), and has made over $10.5 million. With an early resume like that, it’s easy to see Anthony Davis sticking around the NBA for a long time.
As a sophomore in the league, he’s averaging a whopping 3.06 blocks per game. He also averages 1.6 steals per game, and 20.4 points per game. He’s showing us why he was drafted #1 in the 2012 draft, and it doesn’t look like he’ll slow down anytime soon. I think it’s safe to say that the kid has arrived.