After looking at the best shooters and rim protectors in free agency, our focus shifts to the best perimeter defenders in this summer's class.
For the sake of this article, we're focused on the tier below the All-Star calibre two-way players such as Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Khris Middleton and Klay Thompson, as more teams will have the flexibility and opportunity to make a play for the players listed below.
With that in mind, here are some of the best perimeter defenders in the 2019 free agent class.
UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent, RFA = Restricted Free Agent, PO = Player Option, TO = Team Option
Patrick Beverley, UFA
2018-19 Salary: $5.0M
They don't call him Mr. 94 feet for no reason.
Patrick Beverley takes pride on defence unlike any player in the league, a fact supported by both the numbers and the game tape. During the 2018-19 regular season, Beverley held opponents to 43.4% shooting, a figure that was second among all guards with 10 or more contests per game.
According to ESPN's Defensive Real Plus-Minus metric measuring a player's estimated on-court impact on team defensive performance, measured in points allowed per 100 defensive possessions, Beverley ranks highest among all free agent point guards with DRPM of 1.32.
The tape shows that position doesn't matter - Beverley will guard positions 1 through 3, finding a way to make things difficult for whoever he's matched up against, even if he's at a size disadvantage.
That Patrick Beverley defense 😤😤 pic.twitter.com/1eY4MKtrQO- Dime (@DimeUPROXX) April 16, 2019
We saw it in the postseason as Beverley did as good of a job as anyone could do on Kevin Durant despite giving up nearly 10 inches in height.
The seven-year NBA veteran also has a unique basketball IQ and a special understanding of other player's games.
Patrick Beverley was spotted talking to Jae Crowder last night.- ESPN (@espn) April 11, 2019
The Jazz face Harden and the Rockets in the first round this weekend. pic.twitter.com/M619qPOJnM
Beverley is extremely hungry and at even at 31, he will have a few more years in the tank to make things difficult for opposing offences. He just missed the cut for his third All-Defensive Team selection last season and will definitely be motivated to earn the honour once again in 2019-20.
Danny Green, UFA
2018-19 Salary: $10.0M
In addition to being one of the best shooters in this year's free agent class, Green is one of the best perimeter defenders as well.
Like Beverley, Green just missed out on earning All-Defensive Team honours, earning 19 First-Team votes and 28 Second-Team votes (66 points) coming up 16 points short behind Klay Thompson (82 points). The two-time champion earned All-Defensive Second Team honours for his work on the defensive end in San Antonio in the 2016-17 season.
The 32-year-old plays fundamental defence and at 6-foot-6 has the size to guard multiple positions, making things difficult for smaller guards with his length and affecting bigger wings with his extremely high basketball IQ.
He gets chasedown blocks, too.
Danny Green with the chase down block! 🚫#WeTheNorth | #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/IHRK9YRthm- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) June 6, 2019
Per the same DRPM as mentioned above, Green was third among all shooting guards with a DRPM of 2.07 and second-best among all free agent shooting guards in this year's class (Jimmy Butler). While the data isn't perfect, the impact is clear through the numbers.
Even when his shot isn't falling, Green's value as a defender is a true constant and makes him impactful as shown throughout the Raptors title run in 2019.
Malcolm Brogdon, RFA
2018-19 Salary: $1.5M
As Brogdon is the only restricted free agent profiled here, his case is a bit more complex than the others listed.
As a third-year player this past season, the 2017 Rookie of the Year was a crucial component to the Bucks success despite missing 18 regular-season games and eight postseason games with a plantar fascia injury. At 26, Brogdon is much older than most players when entering their fourth season, meaning he could look to command a big offer as a free agent; a big enough offer could make things difficult for Milwaukee to match.
As evidenced by the slight difference in the team's defensive rating with Brogdon on and off the court in both the regular season and postseason, he positively impacts the Bucks defence as a whole while on the floor.
Considering Milwaukee had the league's top-rated defence in the 2018-19 season, that's saying something.
Like both of the aforementioned players, Brogdon's basketball IQ is a big part of his defensive ability; with a strong, 6-foot-5 frame, the combo guard has the capability to make things difficult for guards and wing players at multiple positions.
Trevor Ariza, UFA
2018-19 Salary: $15.0M
He'll be 34 next season and is coming off of an interesting year spent with the Suns and Wizards but Trevor Ariza can still be an impactful perimeter defender.
In the 2017-18 season, the 6-foot-8 forward shows his value as a 3-and-D guy for the Rockets, who surged to the league's best record and came within one win of advancing to the NBA Finals. The Rockets felt Ariza's absence in the 2018-19 season as they often struggled to find answers for long, rangy scoring wings.
Ariza's size and length as a defender allow him to guard players of that calibre and also make things difficult for smaller guards on switches.
For those that think his age could be an issue, teams could look for Ariza to have a similar impact as Andre Iguodala in recent years. Iguodala, who was 35-years-old this past postseason, looked spry and made plenty of impact plays after his workload was managed throughout the regular season. Ariza, who has a championship DNA, could be looked upon to take the same path, with his workload ramping up in the postseason.
A number of teams vied for Ariza's services last year once he became available and he could make an impact on both ends of the floor for a contender in his 16th season.
Ricky Rubio, UFA - Measured among the best point guards with a DRPM of 1.03 in the 2018-19 season. A sometimes underrated defender, the 6-foot-4 Rubio can make things difficult for opposing guards.
Stanley Johnson, UFA - Heading into his fifth season, the former No. 8 overall pick has the frame (6-foot-7, 245 pounds), strength and athleticism to be an elite defender in the NBA. He has shown flashes and at 23-years-old, has plenty of time to continue to develop his value as a defender.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, UFA - Caldwell-Pope is heading into his seventh NBA season but is just 26-years-old. In years past, he has shown the ability to be a long cover for smaller guards and stick with shooting guards and forwards that may have some more size on him.
Thabo Sefolosha, UFA - He only appeared in 50 regular-season games last season but has shown the ability to be an elite defender in the past. He'll be 35 next season but has the instincts and IQ of a savvy vet and could still have a little left in the tank.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.