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2024 NBA Draft: Best Defenders

Donovan Clingan, Stephon Castle, and Devin Carter are three of the best defenders in this draft class.

While offense still sells tickets, defense still wins championships. There will always be a market for plus defenders in every NBA draft class. Everyone is looking for prospects who can give their team an edge on the defensive side of the floor. In today’s game specifically, versatility has become a huge factor in what teams are looking for.

Let’s take a look at the best defenders in the 2024 NBA draft!

2024 NBA Draft: Best Defenders

Ryan Dunn: Virginia

This list has to start with Ryan Dunn. Dunn has virtually no meaningful offensive production and shot 20.0 percent from three on one attempt per game. All that being said, there’s still a great chance he’s selected in the first round. That’s how good of a defender he is as an NBA draft prospect.

At six-foot-eight, Dunn is a hyper-athletic wing that may be able to guard every position. He finished the season averaging 6.9 rebounds,  2.3 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He also played in the ‘pack-line’ defensive scheme and showed a mix of coverage ability. Notable Virginia alumni Trey Murphy III, De’Andre Hunter, and Malcolm Brogdon have all been considered plus defenders in the NBA. If NBA teams can put Dunn in lineups that cover his offensive limitations, he’ll prove extremely productive just about anywhere.

Alexandre Sarr: Perth Wildcats (NBL Australia)

One of the few in consideration at number one overall, Alexandre Sarr is seen as one of the safer prospects. This perceived safety comes from his easy defensive projection. Sarr is extremely mobile for his size, standing at a lanky seven-foot-one with a seven-foot-five wingspan. He’s already NBA-ready on the defensive end, blocking shots and using his length and mobility on the perimeter. He averaged 1.3 blocks and 0.5 steals in only 17 minutes per game having played in a professional league overseas. Similar to Dereck Lively’s impact in Dallas, this may be just the floor for Sarr’s potential at the next level.

This easily projected defensive skill set puts him in number one conversations in a draft class with many uncertainties.

Devin Carter: Providence

Devin Carter will hope to be a taller version of Pelican’s fiery, defensive point guard Jose Alvarado. Carter’s defensive ability is based on physicality and high energy. This projected defensive impact was also helped further after the NBA combine. Carter tied for the highest max vertical at 42 inches, posted the fastest sprint at 2.87, and had the second-fastest lane agility time at 10.63. It was an impressive showing, and it earned him an apparent promise from a team inside the lottery.

Carter stands at six-foot-three and tries to keep constant pressure as an on-ball defender. He’s also adept as a team defender and chasing through screens for steals. He’s been seen as streaky on offense up to this point, but he’s had big scoring outings that may give teams confidence.

Donovan Clingan: UConn

Donovan Clingan is a seven-foot-two big man who won his second championship as a sophomore with the Huskies. Clingan has a clear projected role as a frontcourt anchor, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He has great shot-blocking ability and is very solid at 280 pounds. Clingan isn’t the most agile prospect, but his massive size and IQ should help cover those deficiencies. He averaged 7.4 rebounds, 0.5 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game.

He’s drawn a lot of comparisons to three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner Rudy Gobert.

Stephon Castle: UConn

Stephon Castle boosted his draft stock just as Clingan did after having won the national championship. He consistently received tough assignments for UConn and showed he’s one of the better defenders in this NBA draft class. Castle is a tall, lead guard at six-foot-six. His physical tools should allow him to guard all over the perimeter in the NBA, specifically guards and lighter forwards.

Castle’s defensive impact may not wow you on the stat sheet at first. He averaged 4.7 rebounds, 0.5 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game. However, when the tape rolls, you will see him constantly bother the opposing team’s best guard or wing. He plays with strength and a competitiveness to his game that reminds some of Jimmy Butler.


Honorable Mentions: Kevin McCullar, Jamal Shead, Ron Holland, Cody Williams, Zaccharie Risacher, Yves Missi


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