There are few players in the NBA currently playing better defense than San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl. Already having to face Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis in the young season, he's been more than holding his own against the elite centers in the NBA.
Many things Poeltl has been doing aren't showing up on the box scores, as it's his overall pick and roll defense that's shining so far. Still, after not registering any blocks in the first two games of the season, he's had seven in the last three against Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and Dallas.
At 7-1, you'd think someone like Luka Doncic could blow right past Poeltl for an easy bucket in a one-on-one situation. However, he's routinely proven that just because he seems beat, doesn't mean he is.
Poeltl was everywhere against the Mavericks on Thursday, and that got the attention of former Grizzlies VP of Basketball Ops and current Senior NBA columnist John Hollinger.
The San Antonio Spurs haven't had someone on an NBA All-Defensive Team since 2017-18 when Dejounte Murray made the third team. Before that, appearances by the Spurs on those teams included Danny Green (3rd in 2017) and Kawhi Leonard (1st from 2015-17). No center or power forward from the Spurs has made any of the teams since Tim Duncan in 2015 (3rd).
While we're still early in the season, it's always good to see at least some members of the media noticing the efforts of this young group -- especially from a publication as respected as The Athletic.
Given the small market of San Antonio and the fact that the Spurs might not win a ton of games this season, it'll be an uphill battle for anyone on the team to receive an accolade, but Poeltl and Dejounte Murray are certainly making their defensive case early on this season.