NBA: Best 3-and-D Players

In today’s NBA, guys who can specialize in defense and shooting threes are becoming more prevalent than ever. Here are the Association’s best at 3 and D.

Honorable Mention

Joe Ingles

Joe Ingles went undrafted in 2009 and has been in the league since 2014, but it took until the last couple years for the Australian to break out. For the past two seasons, Ingles has shot 44 percent from three-point land. In the first round against the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, Ingles averaged 14 points per game on 47 percent shooting from three. Playoff Joe gets it done on defense, too. In the regular season, Ingles finished 19th in the league in defensive win shares. In the playoffs, he got under Paul George’s skin and beat him on both ends of the floor.

5. Danny Green

Green might be best known for setting the three-point record in the 2013 NBA Finals, but the former Tar Heel still gets it done on both ends of the floor. Green ranks 20th in defensive rating and 18th in defensive box plus/minus. Last season, Green recorded a career-high in blocks with 1.1 per game, by far the most among shooting guards. The 2014 NBA champ shoots 40 percent from three for his career and helped the San Antonio Spurs make last season’s playoffs despite missing superstar Kawhi Leonard.

4. Trevor Ariza

He’s played for six teams in his career, but Ariza has found a home in his second stint with the Houston Rockets. Ariza gets overshadowed by the Rockets’ big three and Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon, but over time the forward has improved his three-point shot, the focal point of the Houston offense. Last season, the 2009 NBA champion shot 36.8 percent from beyond the arc and a career-best 85 percent from the free-throw line. And at 6’8, Ariza is big enough to defend most wing players and slash through vulnerable defenders like Steph Curry, as seen in the Western Conference Finals, and get to the rim or pass to an open man.

3. Otto Porter

Porter has flown under-the-radar on a mediocre Washington Wizards team, but the small forward has evolved into a versatile player after five seasons in the NBA. Porter has established himself as a three-point marksman with a 44 percent mark from beyond the arc last season, good enough for fourth-best in the league. Defense has also been an improvement for the former third overall pick as he matched a career high in steals with 1.5 per game, which was 19th in the NBA last season.

2. Robert Covington

With the star power of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, it can be easy to forget the other Philadelphia 76ers. Robert Covington became a non-factor for the Sixers during the playoffs. However, during the regular season, he was an elite defender and earned a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team. Covington finished third in the regular season in defensive win shares. The forward also made his contribution offensively by shooting a solid 37 percent from the three-point line.

1. Klay Thompson

When pertaining to 3-and-D, nobody in the league does it better than Thompson. Thompson will likely go down as one of the best three-point shooters of all-time. The three-time champ shot a career-high 44 percent from deep this past year and has never shot under 40 percent in his career.  But what gets overlooked at times is how the four-time All-Star plays defense.

Golden State’s best offensive weapon may be Kevin Durant or Steph Curry, but on defense Thompson typically guards the opposing team’s best guard while Curry is hidden on defense. In the 2018 NBA Playoffs, the former Wazzu star finished fourth among all players in defensive win shares. Maybe it’s the chocolate milk he drinks, but Thompson is the quintessential 3-and-D player in today’s NBA.

With the NBA moving toward a game heavily reliant on the three-point shot, 3-and-D guys are becoming increasingly important and can possibly elevate a team to a championship like Thompson has done twice with Golden State.

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