Picking out the best offensive player on a basketball team is easy.
He or she is the one dunking the ball, nailing the game-winning basket and dominating the stat sheet.
But what about the best defensive player?
That player is not so easy to identify, mostly because we're too busy watching what's happening on offense.
Here are some players synonymous with standout defense who are worth watching as the 5A state boys basketball tournament starts Thursday at the Idaho Center in Nampa. The tournament ends with the championship game Saturday night.
The Lions' man defense was ranked No. 1 in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference this season, limiting opponents to 39.4 points a game.
That stat - and Borah's 2012 state championship - can be attributed to the pride the Lions place on playing tough defense.
Senior Cody Spjute and junior Isaiah Wright lead the team in scoring, but also happen to be the top defenders.
"I always try to make it my first priority to play defense," Spjute said. "I just try to focus on my guy and what he can and can't do. ... I know if I shut my guy down, it helps out my team."
Spjute commonly lines up against an opponent's best big man, while Wright takes on the top guard. Wright leads the 5A SIC in average steals per game with 3.3, and Spjute is fifth with 2.1.
"We have done a really good job this year of communicating on defense and helping each other out. If we need help on our man or if we lose our man, other people will take our man," Wright said. "We just take pride in that, and it's working out for us pretty good."
Coach Cary Cada said both players have great instincts, which makes them effective at help-side defense - a make or break element of a successful man-to-man defense.
"Once people start moving without having to think about where they are supposed to be, then you have something good going," Cada said.
Coach Paul Rush couldn't help but notice that the game turned in the Eagles' favor every time Nick Dow entered the lineup.
The 6-foot-1 junior forward got the nod to join the starting lineup three or four games into the season, and he has been Capital's defensive guru ever since.
"When he is on the floor, we are a better team," Rush said. "When he is in the game, he is not scoring a ton of points, but he changes the game for us defensively and it's by doing a lot of little things."
Rush likes to put the high-energy Dow on the opposing team's point guard.
"He's got great speed, great quickness and then you add in the effort where he is constantly going," Rush said. "He ends up on loose balls and getting rebounds and causing turnovers because he just doesn't quit. He just keeps going."
Pressure defense has helped the Eagles make a huge turnaround from last season, when they had just three wins.
Now, Capital is able to control the tempo, starting with Dow's disruption of the other team's ball handler.
"My focus is really on what I can do to stop him and what I can do to help my team win the game," Dow said.
As a 6-1 wing, Marcus Slocum has a very tall task - guarding the opposing team's biggest and best.
Most games, Slocum lines up against an opponent who is easily two to four inches taller than he is.
Not to worry, coach Jon Nettleton says.
"Giving up that much height, I don't want to say he is more physical, but he is just so active," Nettleton said. "He is always on the floor. He is always at every loose ball, rebounds. He is the kind of kid that does a lot of the statistics that you don't see."
Despite his size disadvantage, Slocum ranks sixth in the 5A SIC with 6.1 rebounds per game. The five players in front of him on that list are 6-5 or taller. And better still for Nettleton is the fact that Slocum rarely finds himself in foul trouble. He has committed just 26 fouls all season - sixth-best in the league.
"There's been many games where he has taken the best post guy and pretty much taken care of them and allowed our other guys to not have to help out at all and take care of their own guys," Nettleton said. "Sometimes if you have to double down on a real good post, that eliminates our ability to defend the 3-point line, and he's one of the reasons why we have defended the 3-point line so well."
Opponents have made just 23.4 percent of their 3s against the Mavericks, tops in the 5A SIC.
Appearance is deceiving when it comes to Matt Grooms.
At a solid 6-5, it would seem the senior post would be best suited for defensive duties inside the key, but coach Dane Roy says Grooms has unlimited versatility.
This season, Grooms has guarded anywhere from 6-8 BYU commit Braiden Shaw of Eagle to 6-2 point guard Wright of Borah.
Whatever the defensive task, Grooms is ready.
"He just owns his role, and it's really helped our team," Roy said. "It's his mindset and kind of his angry edge he has playing every game. He's got a focus of his job and he never loses focus until the game is over."
Grooms has drawn 12 charges this season and ranks fifth in the 5A SIC with 6.4 rebounds per game. As a team, the Grizzlies limit opponents to 37.6-percent shooting from the field, and they are the only team to beat top-ranked Borah this season.
"I want to help my team the best way I can. I'm not always the best offensive threat, but I know that I can bring a presence on the defensive end," Grooms said.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422,Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX