Identifying the 10 best defenders in the 2022 NBA Draft


Jeremy Sochan
Mar 19, 2022; Fort Worth, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) and Baylor Bears forward Jeremy Sochan (1) chase a loose ball during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Dickies Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In a class stacked with elite stoppers, choosing the best defenders in the 2022 NBA Draft is a complicated task. For the first time in years, we’ve seen multiple players who take pride in getting stops and putting their bodies on the line on every single possession.

Best defenders in 2022 NBA Draft

We’ve already talked about the best shooters in the Draft and how shooting has become one of the most important traits in today’s game. But you can’t win an NBA championship if you don’t play sound defense. That’s been a fact since the Bill Russell era, and it’ll be a fact forever.

With that in mind, scouts will always try to find the best, most versatile stoppers in every class, and this year features several guys with legit DPOY upside. That’s why today, we’re going to let you know about the best defenders in 2022 NBA Draft.

Walker Kessler

One of the NBA Draft best defenders, Walker Kessler didn’t get much recognition as he shared the floor with Jabari Smith. But he’s a two-way force inside the restricted area who can play lockdown defense and dominate both sides of the glass any given night.

He’s not much of a shooter and that may hurt his draft stock, but his absurd 4.2 blocks per game will grant him a spot in the league.

Jeremy Sochan

An elite rebounder at his position, Jeremy Sochan has the potential to become a generational defender. He can guard one through five and can even bully stronger players when they challenge him in the post or below the rim.

Sochan is mobile, quick, a shot-blocker, and great at recovering the few times he’s caught off guard or out of position and is the ultimate hustler. NBA coaches will love him.

E.J. Liddell

Built like P.J. Tucker, E.J. Liddell showed that he could handle most pivots in the restricted area, and also get stops against wings beyond the perimeter.

Elite shot-blocker at just 6’7”, he’s great at reading opposing sets and helping when needed. He was often asked to shut down the rivals’ best scorer and put on a defensive clinic against projected top-3 pick Paolo Banchero.

Read more: Sleeper picks in 2022 NBA Draft

Malaki Branham

Effort will never be an issue for Malaki Branham. His hustle and unmatched work ethic made him go from undrafted to a potential one-and-done player, as well as one of the best defenders in 2022 NBA Draft.

He makes the most of his long arms to alter shots and guard the perimeter but needs to improve as a scorer to get a real shot with the pros.

Dyson Daniels

Dyson Daniels might be everything we hoped Dante Exum would be. He’s not a great shooter or scorer by any means but makes up for it with elite playmaking and lockdown backcourt defense.

Daniels controls the pace of the game and won’t hesitate to draw contact, dive on loose possessions, or go to war on the glass, and he can get stops even against bigger players on the wing.

Jalen Duren

As a heavy-footed, old-school, strong big man, Jalen Duren proved to be one of the NBA Draft best defenders game in and game out.

He’s an elite rim protector and a guy who could easily become one of the prime shot blockers in the league just a couple of years from now. Also, Duren has great instincts to recover and defend the perimeter even against smaller, quicker, craftier players.

Ochai Agbaji

Ochai Agbaji had to wait until his senior season to finally get some nationwide love. Agbaji made great strides on both ends of the floor by scoring nearly 20 points per game on 41% from beyond the arc but more than that, he also became one of the best defenders in 2022 NBA Draft.

He can guard one through five and can alter shots, get steals, or switch onto multiple positions with ease thanks to his big, strong frame.

Tari Eason

Tari Eason is still a work in progress but might well be one of the best two-way players in the league once he gets his legs under him. He’s pesky, strong, has great instincts in passing lanes, and didn’t bat an eye when asked to play center, despite being slightly undersized.

He needs to develop a more consistent shooting stroke to play at the four, where his body would be better suited, but he’s an NBA-ready defender already.

Johnny Davis

Johnny Davis is a big man trapped in a guard’s body. He gets most of his offense in the post and bullying his way to the rim, but he can also feed off his electric defense and get multiple swipes and steals inside the restricted area.

He’s got a long frame, quick hands, and is stronger than most guys his size. Just like Marcus Smart, he takes pride in his defense and loves to fight through screens to avoid switches.

Chet Holmgren

Chet Holmgren is by far one of the best defenders in 2022 NBA Draft, and perhaps the most intriguing prospect in NBA history. He’s an elite rim protector who clocked 3.6 blocks per game and sure knows how to make the most of his massive wingspan to alter shots and get stops.

He’s long enough to recover once quicker players blow by him as well. However, his skinny frame (195 pounds) raises big concerns about his ability to contain stronger bigs in the NBA.

Jabari Smith

A potential first-overall pick, Jabari Smith is an elite shooter who can excel at all three levels, and dominate the glass. But besides his elite offensive skill set, he’s also a dominant defender ready to make an impact in the NBA right away.

He’s a solid rim protector and plays sound defense on and off the ball, as well as a smart guy when it comes to helps and double-teams. Also, Smith never takes plays off and will bring in high energy on every possession.





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Mar 19, 2022; Fort Worth, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) and Baylor Bears forward Jeremy Sochan (1) chase a loose ball during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Dickies Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports In a class stacked with elite stoppers, choosing the best defenders…