Thunder and Lightning – The Best Defensive Duos of 2023

For those unfamiliar with how we roll here, at The Mongrel Punt, we have a system in place that rates the best defenders in the competition on a weekly basis.

Each week, defenders accrue points for their standout work in a number of statistical categories and those points, along with votes (both from coaches and our very own Mongrels) go into a big wheel of cheese… or a formula, or something, and it spits out a total for each player.

Those numbers are collated weekly for our Inner Circle Members, and what we end up with is a running total all the way through the season, with the man standing atop the heap after Round 23 being crowned the Mongrel Punt Defensive Player of the Year.

Imaginative title, I know – I came up with it all by myself.

Last week, in lieu of the shorter turnaround, I kind of felt like I shortchanged people in terms of that content, so, as promised, this week there is an extra column for them. Oh, and this is it. Surprise!

Back in another lifetime, I used to run a little trading card shop. You may remember the time – the early to mid-nineties when the NBA was becoming huge on the back of Michael Jordan’s popularity (so he walked away into retirement and cost me a bomb… initially, anyway). But we still had Shaq, Chris Webber, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, and…. errrr, Harold Miner to tide us over until MJ returned and we got a whole heap of new Jordan cards to overprice and sell.

Aaaaanyway, one of the insert sets I really liked from those days was the Thunder and Lightning cards as part of the Skybox set. The cards featured two players – one who was all about the power – The Thunder, and one all about the speed – The Lightning.

They were nice cards and I always dug the concept. Years later, one of the AFL Trading Card companies ripped off that idea and applied it randomly to players… without too much thought about who they were adding to the mix – classic AFL. So, with us already covering the best individual defenders in the caper, I thought about applying the Thunder and Lightning concept to the current defenders to see what it threw up. If it was good enough for AFL trading cards to rip off, it’s good enough for me, damn it!

To say there were a couple of surprises would be one of the biggest understatements since Lady Godiva rode into Coventry claiming she had nothing to wear.

With this, I wanted one key position defender and one non-key position player who do their best work in defence. And that’s what each team has here, as we rank the best Thunder and Lightning defensive duos in the game.


Now, I know some of you will ask – I am a member; why can’t I see this? This is for the Inner Circle Member tier – all columns associated with the Defensive Player of the Year rankings are. This is what these people generously pay a bit extra for, so I am more than happy to dive deep for them when it comes to this content. If you’re a Mongrel Member and you’d like to upgrade, go right ahead. If not, that’s cool, as well. But this is not a new thing – has been that way for over two years now.  Wanna join them?

Want more of this kind of stuff? Join The Mongrel to get it!