Thursday, January 5th, 2012 at 11:30 am  |  52 responses

Pacers Coach Frank Vogel: LeBron James the ‘Best Defensive Player in the World’

The Miami Heat were without Dwyane Wade’s services last night, so LeBron James simply took over the game. What impressed Frank Vogel the most was LBJ’s defense. From ESPN: “With Dwyane Wade sitting out a meeting with the upstart Indiana Pacers with a sore foot, James morphed right back into the mode that made him a two-time most valuable player with the Cavs. For the heavy majority of the game the ball was in James’ hands as he took over as the full-time facilitator in the 118-83 blowout victory to improve the Miami Heat to 6-1. James racked up 33 points with 13 assists and eight rebounds. He did it joyously, whipping backhanded passes to teammates while swinging his hips and thrusting back his shoulders after drawing shooting foul after shooting foul. He glared over at his bench after various exploits. It was full-on James swagger mode, the sort of stuff that was rather rare last season. Even after he turned his ankle by landing on Paul George inadvertently in the third quarter — James rolled around on the deck for a while before getting up and not even leaving the game, which some might say also was routine in his Cleveland days — it kept looking easy. ‘I was able to find my teammates and I was also get myself going, I didn’t a little bit of both,’ James said. ‘It was a well-balanced game for me.’ And he did it at both ends, smothering Pacers small forward Danny Granger and contributing to a horrid 2-of-13 shooting night for the small forward. ‘LeBron James, the best defensive player in the world, was on him,’ Pacers coach Frank Vogel said to explain Granger’s bad night.”

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  • Ldub20

    Solid defender? (at times) yes! Best in the World? Naw I wouldnt say all that. You got dudes that will stay on you for the full 48 minutes…thats not LBJ’s style!

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Let’s just stick with Danny Granger isn’t that good at creating his own shot.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    He can for stretches be an absolute beast on D, he just doesn’t do it all the time.

  • http://twitter.com/JayNilla Jay Neal

    Granger is a spot-up jump shooter/one-dribble pull-up at most. As a Pacers fan, it’s extremely frustrating but it’s not changing.

  • Mo

    I wouldn’t say he’s the “best defender in the world” but i also wouldn’t say he’s a “solid defender at times” either. Saying he plays solid D “at times” is a lil disrespectful to his defense. Lebron is one of the better defenders in the league and you don’t become that by playing solid defense “at times.” Is he the best? No. but I’d say “off the top of my head” he’s top 10 overall in the NBA. One of the best at his position.

  • AD

    yea i wouldnt say he’s the best becuz there ppl in the nba for defense only but lebron intimidates ppl…. that should say enough

  • robb

    I think he can be the best defender in the word at times and a solid defender most of the time

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    Hell no

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Lebron is a pretty good defender.

  • Jono

    Agreed. If he wants to stick to his man the whole 48 minutes, he’ll go 0 for whatever.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Dwight Howard and Tony Allen are the best defenders in the world today.

  • Sean B

    Does anyone realize how difficult it would be to avg 30-8-8 and play consistent lock-down d on the opposing team’s best player? That’s why superstars like LeBron don’t bring it all the time on that end, they have such a responsibility on the offensive end they have to conserve energy.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    omg, get off of lebrons you know what. Bosh did play last night right? He has been a all-star these last six season deservedly so right? They act like the guy helped a d-league team blow out the pacers.

  • http://slam.online house

    Needs to take a page outta Pip’s book who could shut people down on D while still being a force on O

    Oh and its Danny Granger ffs…

  • Mo

    Pip doesn’t have the offensive responsibility that LeBron has to deal with either. Pip can concentrate on “D” a lil more than LeBron has to.

  • tech

    I would fire my coach for saying that. Who is Frank Vogel anyway?

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Lebron is a good defender. But Danny Granger’s percentages have never been that good to start with.

  • http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_history.html Allenp

    Pip only averaged more than 20 points once in his career.
    So “force” on offensive is a bit generous, don’t you think?

  • http://juan.garcia@computershare.com Marcelus Wallace

    I didn’t know Indiana grew some good ish.

  • justbball

    Lebron always locks up his opponent. Pay attention to the games.

  • T-Money

    among nba superstar wings, lebron is the most fundamentally sound on the defensive end. he never bites on pump fakes, his man rarely beats him back door or over the top. he conserves energy by always being at the right place. obviously, he can’t play end of game defense for 48 minutes and still give you 28-7-7. but seriously, look at his d in the last 5 minutes of the game – even tony allen can’t do that.

  • Warren

    I think some people missed the sarcastic point Vogel was trying to make to Granger.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    AllenP. um he did play next to this guy called Mj who happens to be the most prolific scorer of the last thirty years. So I think that had a little to do with him only scoring over 20 once.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I wouldn’t go that far but Bron’s one of the top defensive players in the L.

  • http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_history.html Allenp

    Slick Ric
    If you call someone a “force” on offense, they should average more than 20 points regularly in their careers. In my opinion.
    Pippen was a great all around player, he was not an offensive force. More importantly, he was not a force like LeBron. At all.

  • http://slamonline.com Yknot

    Ask Rose if he was a solid defender at times in the playoffs last year.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    pippen was not a force on offense. ever. (but for the record he did average over 20 in 3 different seasons)

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Pippen was a force on D. Not offense. Heck, according to my watching of the ’91 Finals, Pippen’s D was the second biggest reason they won that series.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Tarzan Cooper

    Lebron is a futhamuckin monster! LONG LIVE THE KING!

  • http://www.opendoorsports.net Aliya


  • http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_history.html Allenp

    I stand corrected NBK.
    I thought he only topped 20 the year Jordan was out, but I just pulled up the stats and I was wrong.
    Still, not a force, but better than I remembered.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Dagger

    He’s top 5, no question. A legitimate DPOY candidate for a few seasons now.


    ^^ True Dat^^

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    The year Jordan was out was definitely the closest he ever was to being an offensive force

  • tomtom

    Nobody said anything about granger people, he IS the best defensive player in the world he can guard 4 positions really well look at what he did to Drose down the stretch last year in a few of those playoff games. I can’t believe this is causing so much debate, I thought it was popular opinion and I assure you I am no LBJ fan.

  • R32

    Raptors D > Miami D

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    I say force offensively, and you can tell that to his six rings that he and only michael won for the bulls.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk


  • bike

    LeBron has the potential to be the G.O.A.T.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk


  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    Lebron can lock down many elite scorers… regardless of position. He’s strong enough to outmuscle any one in the post and quick enough to guard almost anyone on the perimeter. He also has a 7ft wingspan. There’s a reason he’s only 2nd to dwight howard in defensive player of the year voting. he’s the all around best player in L without a doubt.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Kobe could be GOAT. Griffin could be GOAT. Wall could be GOAT. Rose could be GOAT. So yes. LBJ could be GOAT….. He just won’t be… like the rest of the guys I mentioned.

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    Co-sign Tarzan The G.O.A.T.

  • Rev

    Who else in the BA can smother Derrick Rose in the playoffs singlehandedly?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Tarzan Cooper

    What’s good phil? Lebron has a tremendous opportunity to become the legit goat. I hope it happens, it will be fun.

  • Mburb321

    I’d say 3rd best perimeter defender behind tony allen and affalo.

  • http://slam.online house

    @Allenp: well perhaps me saying that Pip was a force on absolute offence was a bit of a stretch but in my mind I considered him to be he an offensive force in the sense that he could be routinely relied upon to provide regular scoring, to stretch the floor etc as well as doing all the other facets of the game well, rebounding, steals, blocks etc. I guess it was the combination of Pip being good at all those facets which made him the all-around player that he was. (yeah thats what I meant to say perhaps)

    Anyhow I defer to you guys as I am not the hoop aficionado that some of you are but I am admittedly a somewhat one-eyed Bulls supporter lol.

  • Spades

    Tony Allen and Afflalo wouldn’t be half the defenders they are if they had to anything more than run around screens for spot-up jumpers. LeBron carries the defense AND offense on his team. Do you know how much energy it takes out of a player to go for 28-7-7 and then guard the other team’s best wing for 30-40 minutes a game?

  • Allenp

    Pippen was very good on offense and.one of the best all around players of all time all g with cats like Hakeem and Jordan and Oscar.
    When is saw force I thought you meant unstoppable juggernaut. It is just semantics.

  • http://slam.online house

    apologies I will try to be clearer on future posts

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    lakeshow low-key hates lbj lmao

  • BillOReily

    All this talk doesn’t matter unless he wins a championship he’ll just be that “great defender” without a ring…ask 2011 Dirk if LeBron’s D is any good…i think his fadeway would beg to differ