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There's an old saying in basketball that good offense beats good defense. But if that's true, how come the Kings are catching flak for signing DeMar Derozan, who's one of the best offensive players in the world? It isn't that simple, of course. There's a lot of nuance and necessary context in discussions like this. But the market tends to tell the truth, and right now, it's screaming one thing: Defense is king. 

The Knicks traded five first-round picks for Mikal Bridges and resigned OG Anunoby to a massive contract worth north of $200 million. Why? Defense. The Knicks can now stack up their perimeter defensive posse next to the Celtics, who just dismantled the Mavericks, who have two of the greatest offensive players in history, in the NBA Finals -- where Jaylen Brown took the fourth-quarter life out of Luka Doncic and Jrue Holiday looked like an appreciably more valuable player than Kyrie Irving

Holiday is perhaps the best case study in this offense vs. defense conundrum. The best teams do both, but when faced with a choice, the Bucks chose offense with Damian Lillard over Holiday and promptly fell from the fourth-ranked defense to 19th. Yes, context is part of this. Adrian Griffin did some weird stuff and Brook Lopez was misused. Fine. But on a macro level, Milwaukee chose a great offensive player over a defensive genius and lost in the first round while Holiday won his second ring in four years. 

Only one other player has won two championships in the past five years: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. This is another great defender who just signed for $66M with the Orlando Magic, who, like the Knicks, are building out a stable of elite perimeter defenders that includes Jalen Suggs and Jonathan Isaac. Meanwhile, Denver looks like one of the summer's big losers for letting KCP go. 

Defense has never mattered more, because offensive players have never been better. When the rules were enforced in a way that effectively gave no defender a chance, no matter how great he was, spending your resources on perimeter defenders was perhaps steering more toward a fool's errand. But now that defense has thankfully been legislated back into the game, we're seeing the impact that great defenders can have even on great scorers. 

Irving, after all, wasn't just held in check in the Finals. He was held to 15 points per game in the conference semis by the Thunder, who were already the fourth-ranked defense last season and have spent the summer getting even better by trading for one of the league's preeminent perimeter pests in Alex Caruso and signing a second elite rim protector to go alongside Chet Holmgren in Isaiah Hartenstein

So far, the Warriors have signed three players this summer, and the one they spent the most money on was De'Anthony Melton, a defender. The Mavericks added Naji Marshall to replace Derrick Jones Jr. who got $30 million from the Clippers because he can credibly defend star scorers. 

Think back to the summer of 2022 when the Timberwolves were mocked ruthlessly for sending four first-round picks plus a pick swap and three good young players in Walker Kessler, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Rudy Gobert

Who's laughing now? The Timberwolves rode one of the best defenses we've seen in recent times, if not ever, to their first conference finals berth in two decades. Gobert was the anchor, but the driving forces were Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Nickeil Alexander-Walker suffocating elite scorers on the perimeter. 

Teams were paying attention. To compete for a title, you have to be able to defend the league's ever-growing stable of superstar scorers without having to constantly send double teams that wreck your chances of holding up over the long haul. 

And so, the 76ers brought in Paul George, who will be the third offensive option many nights but probably more importantly becomes Philadelphia's best perimeter defender. He's at least a viable option to defend the Jayson Tatums and Jimmy Butlers and Tyrese Haliburtons of the Eastern Conference. 

It's the same -- or at least part of -- the reason the Warriors re-signed Draymond Green to a $100M deal while letting Klay Thompson, despite his still being capable of averaging near 20 PPG on 40% 3-point shooting, walk for nothing. Green can still defend. Thompson, for the most part, can't. 

It was at least one of the driving factors in the Pelicans trading for Dejounte Murray -- who admittedly wasn't a great defender in Atlanta but has been one in the past and presumably can be again -- to go alongside Herb Jones and Trey Murphy and Jose Alvarado, because one great perimeter defender (which could become Philadelphia's problem) isn't enough anymore; you have to have a bunch of them. Even one weak link can sink and otherwise sturdy ship. 

Look at the Mavericks. They only became a contender in the first place because they turned themselves into a viable defensive team by trading for P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford at the deadline, but in the end they were undercut by their best player's inability to defend. Doncic was outright awful at times in the Finals

And if arguably the best offensive player in the world can still become too defensively detrimental to win a championship, is it any wonder that nobody is trying to trade for Trae Young? Because all reporting would seem to indicate the Hawks would be happy to move him. You can stack up all kinds of numbers, but in the end the market will determine the numbers that matter most. 

How much are you getting paid? And once you're getting paid, how many other teams would get in line for the opportunity to pay you that same thing? How many draft picks would they give up for your services? It is in these numbers that real value will reveal itself, and while it's true that no strategy can be applied to all teams, that a guy like Holiday might be more valuable in Boston where he has a bunch of offense around him than in Milwaukee where he had to be more of a featured guy, the generally accepted belief that good offense beats good defense has perhaps never been more in question. And the examples of teams acting accordingly are everywhere you look.