The NBA league in the past decade or so has been focused more and more on scoring than anything else. The rules were changed in a way that enables players and teams to score more points, which resulted in numerous high-scoring games throughout the season. Some fans enjoy the ‘Run-N-Gun’ style of basketball with a lot of points, but a large percentage of fans think the league is soft, and defense is seen on rare occasions.
In a recent interview for ‘The Players Tribune’, Metta World Peace discussed the absence of defense in the current NBA. Metta was known throughout his long NBA career as a defensive stopper who made games a living hell for any player he was assigned guarding. His finesse when it comes to playing great defense was not just pure talent but on the other, hard work and dedication.
Metta believes players nowadays are exclusively working on improving their game on offense, and when it comes to defense, they are selective and don’t want to put the needed effort. That kind of habit is implemented ever since an early age, and as players get older, they rarely change their habits and don’t see the bigger picture on what it means to be a great player on both ends of the floor. Metta worked hard to become a great defender and was focused on all the details that put him in the right position. That could either be a steal, anticipation of the opposing teams move or getting a clean block.
In the summertime, I would practice defense for the first 45 minutes. All I see is the cute training videos of crossovers and jumpers. Rare to see sessions working on defense. So what are you going to do with someone like this who prioritize defense, who’s obsessed with it, who gets pissed if you get more then two points on him? Who studied and understood the little details when it came to stealing the ball, anticipating your moves so he can consistently block your shot. Just flat out on a mission to make your life hell for 48 minutes. What are you going to do when those cute little drills don’t work.Metta World Peace, via The Players Tribune
Metta makes a good point, and even though the players have never been so skilled on offense as they are today, only a handful of them are known for their defensive prowess. When it comes to playing good defense, you need to have the desire and will to stay in front of the player and make things hard for him. On top of that, you need to study the best defenders and take notes on what works in real-life situations. These things are not widespread, especially among younger players who are mostly focused on improving their skills for the offense. Whether that will change or not, it’s hard to say, but younger generations could learn a thing or two by watching Metta in his prime years when he was an absolute nightmare for every player looking to score.