Most players in the NBA aren’t looking to become their team’s lockdown defender. While the league’s excitement comes from 3-pointers and high flyers, playing good defense is important for any team striving to win a championship. For poor defenders, getting put in an isolation situation can feel like being stranded on an island before committing a foul. Let’s take a look at the NBA players who committed the most fouls during the 2018-19 season.
10. James Harden, Houston Rockets: 244
The potential league MVP fills up the stat sheet offensively, but he is one of the poorest players in the league on the defensive end of the floor. Whether it’s laziness or ineptitude, The Beard is among the leaders for most fouls in the game. Harden committed more than three fouls per game on average while putting up 36 points per game on the offensive end. Harden fouls even more frequently in the postseason, as he is averaging 3.8 fouls per game during the 2019 NBA playoffs.
9. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 245
Russell Westbrook and our previous entrant, James Harden, share a lot of similarities. They’re two of the best players in the game, they both have MVP awards, they both score a ton (Westbrook is a triple-double machine), and they both make the list of players with the most fouls. Westbrook is one of the best athletes in the NBA, but that hasn’t stopped him from hacking his offensive opponents. The Thunder exited the playoffs in the first round, and Westbrook was still a liability on that end, picking up 19 fouls in five games.
8. Julius Randle, New Orleans Pelicans: 246
Randle improved to a borderline All-Star level last season for the Pelicans. He put up 21 points per game, but he couldn’t keep his hands to himself of defense. He committed nearly three-and-a-half fouls per game this season.
7. Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers: 250
Nurkic was having an excellent season for Portland before breaking his leg, and he could have been an essential piece to the team’s success in the playoffs. He couldn’t hold his own when defending the pick and roll, however, and he committed 250 fouls in 72 games this season.
5. Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets: 252 (TIE)
Plumlee put up solid numbers for the Nuggets this year, and he helped them reach the cusp of the Western Conference finals, but he isn’t on the floor for his defensive prowess. Like Tucker, he also committed 252 fouls in 82 games, which is a sign both of his hard-nosed style and defensive liabilities.
5. PJ Tucker, Houston Rockets: 252 (TIE)
Tucker is a key cog in the Houston Rockets offensive machine, but he is a weakness on the other end of the floor. Putting him and James Harden on the floor at the same time increases any team’s chances of going to the charity stripe, as Tucker averaged more than three fouls per game while playing in all 82 games for the Rockets this season.
4. Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers: 255
When you think of high energy players, Montrezl Harrell is one of the first names that comes to mind. The energetic forward out of Louisville was a key player for the Clippers this season, but he struggled to make things happen on defense. He played in every game this season and committed nearly three-and-a-half hacks per game, which puts him firmly in the top five of players with the most fouls during the 2018-19 season.
3. Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Clippers: 265
Arguably the biggest agitator in the NBA, Beverley makes his money by staying on his opponent the entire trip up the floor. That leads to an excessive amount of fouls for the talented Clippers guard, as he is nearly at the top of the heap for most fouls in the league. The 265 he committed during the season were the most of his career.
2. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: 272
Drummond pulls down rebounds with ease, but staying with his man is a problem for the big man. He committed 272 fouls this season, marking the third time in his career he committed 270-plus in a season.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: 292
The leader in the clubhouse for most fouls is also one of the most skilled big men in the NBA. Towns just can’t seem to put things together on the defensive end of the floor, and it resulted in the T-Wolves missing the playoffs. If he expects to turn the franchises misfortunes around, he will need to become dedicated to stopping players going to the basket without fouling nearly four times per game.