Defense is tricky. There's nothing in the box score that tracks defense - yes we have block and steals but those are woefully inadequate metrics. The defensive charting that I've been doing here, and a few others have done around the league, does wonders to shine light on defensive contributions. But even that is incomplete because we don't properly track the quality of opposition.
So that makes filling out an All-Defensive team something of a nightmare for someone as analytically minded as myself. I have to go by what I've seen and by the opinions of other beat writers. So, with that in mind, here's my All-Defensive team as of today.
All-Defensive Team as of February 28th
John Henson - His rebounding combined with his long arms and quick feet make him a nightmare for both post players and guards looking to drive.
Bernard James - A meaner, less athletic version of Henson. There's some legitimate discussion to be had about whether he's a better defender than Henson on the whole. I would argue for Henson, but James is in the discussion - its not as cut & dry as it appears on the surface.
Jontel Evans - Quick, athletic, physical guard who can nearly eliminate a perimeter scorer from a game. Look at some of the game logs of guys he's guarded - Snaer went 3-for-9 with 5 TOs. CJ Harris went 2-for-7. Stoglin went 4-for-17. Marshall was a combined 1-for-10 in two games. Andre Young a combined 6-for-18 in two games.
Tanner Smith - The first pick that I expect will not be roundly supported. Clemson has been an excellent defensive team in league play, thanks in large part to its ability to generate turnovers. I got to here through both stats and scouting (for lack of a better word) - Smith leads ACC starters in steal rate despite being 6'5" and also rebounds like a power forward. Essentially he steals like he's 6'0" and rebounds like he's 6'8" - not a bad combination. I also talked with @aimclemson who called him a 'feisty on the ball guy'.
Tyler Zeller - Whaaaaat?! I trust @Freeportkid, and his charting indicates that Zeller is actually a more valuable defender than Henson. I'm not willing to go that far, but I can't ignore what Zeller clearly does for one of the best interior defenses in the nation.
Some Honorable Mentions
Michael Snaer - Had trouble justifying a 2nd guy from the leagues 3rd-best defensive team
Austin Rivers - Kid might get lost occasionally, but the kid can guard better than most announcers would have you think. His emergence has been a big part of Duke's late-season defensive surge.
Shane Larkin - Didn't really play enough but he's the best defender on a sneakily-good Miami D
Devon Booker - Very good traditional post defender but he doesn't clean up the defensive glass as much as I'd like.
Undecided. I'm struggling between Henson & Evans.