Philadelphia 76ers

Heat Check: Who is the best rim protector in the NBA?

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Anthony Davis (NBA Getty Images)

While the league is currently littered with dominant rim protectors, only one can be crowned the best. Is it Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis or someone else?

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): The answer is the guy who just won Defensive Player of the Year. Not only did Rudy Gobert block the third-most shots per game last season, he was tied with Myles Turner for contesting the second-most shots per game with 6-feet of the basket. Opponents made only 51.9 percent of their field goal attempts against Gobert in those situations, a mark that was 10.0 percent worse than their average.

Embiid was slightly more effective by the numbers, but he did it on less volume. According to NBA.com, Gobert contested 27 more shots in the restricted area than Embiid in six less games. (Gobert also had a slightly higher defensive rating than Embiid in the regular season.) That's enough for me to give him the slight edge ... for now, at least.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): I'm going to give the nod to Anthony Davis, the league's leader in both blocks per game and total blocks in 2017-18. Last season was Davis' third time leading the league in blocks per game with 2.6, a figure greater than Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert's 2.3.

To take it a step further, Davis recorded four or more blocks in 21 regular season games, including an NBA season-high 10-block performance against the Jazz on his 25th birthday. For comparison, Clint Capela, Gobert and Embiid recorded four or more blocks a combined 26 times last season.

Davis' defensive versatility allows him to block shots in various situations; in other words, he's more than just a great help-side defender. Davis has the lateral quickness to stay with a guard before denying him at the rim, the speed to recover for chase-down blocks in the transition or in the halfcourt and the timing to block his own man's shot in the post.

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James McKern (@jLmcKern): As Scott pointed out above, opponents made only 51.9 percent of attempts against Gobert at the rim. An incredibly impressive number, but not as good as my selection: Joel Embiid. Embiid's figure was a staggering 50.1 percent as he anchored the 76ers' defence.

Despite only finishing equal 10th with Jusuf Nurkic in total blocks, opponents are hesitant to challenge Embiid at the rim. Along with Anthony Davis, he has the lateral speed and agility to keep with players and was one of only 16 players in the league to record a defensive rating below 100.

Coming into his third season in the league, Embiid is going to get better and he'll only strengthen those numbers as the 76ers climb to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): I have to go with Clint Capela. The entire Rockets defence was contingent on Capela's activity in and around the rim and he delivered, as Houston fell just outside the top five in defensive rating a season ago.

His blocks numbers won't jump off the page - he averaged just under two per game - but no one was challenged more at the rim than Capela at 8.0 attempt per game within six-feet. The Rockets' wing players regularly left Capela to clean up their mess and he handled himself pretty well, only allowing 56 percent of bunnies within 6-feet.

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