Who are the best rim protectors?
Good defense starts at the rim. Having a good defensive big man to protect the rim is the number one predictor of a good defense in basketball. The Mountain West has seen a number of great defensive big men over the years, the latest being Neemias Queta. Queta’s defense lifted the entire Utah St. team for years.
This year the conference features a couple stellar rim protectors, and a couple other solid ones. If defense wins championships, then the teams with players on this list have the best shot at winning the conference championship.
5. Keshad Johnson, SDSU – Keshad Johnson is the only non-center on the list. At 6’7″, 210 lbs, he is regarded as the most athletic player the ever play for SDSU. His athleticism lets him challenge bigger players at the rim. He won’t deter shots at the rim the way the other players do, but his ability to rotate from the weakside for a block is something few players in the conference have. He posted a block rate of 5.7% last season. He is expected to start for the Aztecs this season, meaning he’ll have even more opportunities to swat shots away. The block rate may go down with a larger sample size this season, but even if it were to drop two full percentage points, it would still be slightly higher than what other bigs like Warren Washington posted.
4. James Moors, Colorado St. – Moors has great size at 6’10”, 240 lbs, and had a solid freshman season. He started 21 games as a freshman, and the defense looked better when he was on the floor, which is important for a team that is as good offensively as the Rams are. Moors posted a block rate of 4.3%, and should be able to improve his defense with another offseason of development. His game will improve in many ways, but his defense and ability to protect the rim will be most important to the Rams Tourney hopes.