This article analyzes a series of D-Man options that can be used to improve your skills on the court.
I spent more than ten years playing competitive basketball at a high level. My own practice, as well as my college-playing friends and extra research, allowed me to break down each and every D-Man in this guide.
The SKLZ D-Man is my number one pick because it’s easy to set up, lightweight, and can be adjusted for maximum results.
Most D-Men models are static, meaning they come in one height or size. Being able to change up your at-home defender allows for better practice and better results on the court. It’s also incredibly intuitive, easy to use, and will last a long time.
The SKLZ D-Man is a great model, but it’s far from the only top option. I cover other excellent D-Men in greater detail throughout the following sections.
- Best Overall: SKLZ D-Man
- Best Inflatable: GoSports Inflataman
- Most Versatile: GoSports Xtraman Dummy
- Most Portable: Pop Up Defender
- Best Pad: Goalrilla Blocking Dummy
Who Should Get This
The below dummies are great for players who want to improve their offensive game. That includes young kids just getting a feel for the sport, as well as more seasoned high school or college players who want to get up shots around a set obstacle.
Being able to visualize where a defender might be on the court improves your timing reaction and gives you the ability to quickly react around another body. It doesn’t matter what position you play, the items in this article will surely help you become a better offensive threat.
Top Basketball D-Men: Our Picks
Here, I’ll review the best D-Men models on the market by explaining their individual traits as well as the specific niches they fill.
1. SKLZ D-Man
- Best for: Overall
- Key Features: Easy assembly and installation. Breakdown in seconds. Lightweight. Adjustable telescoping pole. Money-back guarantee.
- Height: 6.5 feet to 8 feet
- Material: Mesh
- Color: Orange
The SKLZ D-Man is a fantastic choice that creates a fully adjustable defender you can use just about anywhere. The ability to change the height provides you with a plethora of options and gives you a level of versatility similar static models can’t quite match.
On top of that, the SKLZ is incredibly easy to set up and tear down. That’s especially important if you value portability or need to bring it to the gym. Coaches or serious players who want to practice across multiple venues with also enjoy the product’s lightweight design.
The only true downside to there is that, as the D-Man is so lightweight and easy to move, it doesn’t have the best durability. You won’t have any lasting issues when using it inside the gym, but you may see some bending problems if you use it outside for a long time.
- Best for: Inflatable
- Key Features: Life-size defender. Soft and inflatable. Strong weighted base. Unique bounce back design.
- Height: 6’4
- Material: Inflatable
- Dimensions: 11.93 x 9.13 x 3.23 inches
If you want a safer, more lightweight D-Man the GoSports Inflataman is worth a look. This model, rather than being a stationary mesh option, utilizes an inflatable bounce back design that allows it to spring back after contact. As such, you can hit or run into it with no issues.
The power of this model is its versatility. The soft construction means you can practice dribbling or post up moves without any harm, while the strong base allows you to shoot up, around, or over too. It’s a great way to get in a lot of different drills during a hard or extended practice.
Just be aware that, as this model is fully inflatable, you need to be a bit more careful with it than other D-Men. It’s prone to tearing and punctures can cause some issues too. If you’re using it outside or in tumultuous conditions be sure to only take it out in clear or calm weather.
- Best for: Versatility
- Key Features: Extra arms for better mobility. Versatile. Can be used for single or group practice. Focus on precision. Adjustable velcro arms.
- Height: 7’3
- Material: Mesh
- Dimensions: 21 x 7 x 5 inches
There are many great D-Man models on the market, but few can match the look and feel of a real defender like the Xtraman Dummy from GoSports. This model comes with special velcro arms that allow you to easily adjust exactly where you want your opponent to be.
As such, you can play against someone defending higher or lower. That enables you to work on your dribbling and cutting skills in addition to putting up shots. The entire unit is well-made and can take a lot of hits. There’s even a special carrying bag for better portability.
All of that being said, the Xtraman Dummy is not the easiest to adjust. The additional versatility is fantastic, but you will need to put in some work to get it to where you want. Also be aware that it can tip in strong winds. Only take it outside when the sky is clear.
- Best for: Portability
- Key Features: Lightweight-but-stable. Safe and cushioned. Unique pop-up design. Works as extra ball storage. Collapsible.
- Weight: 4.06 pounds
- Height: 3.4 feet
- Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 40 inches
If you’re someone who wants a D-Man model that you can easily bring with you anywhere, nothing is as portable as the Pop Up Defender. This lightweight option breaks down into a small circle and expands to a full cylinder that you can quickly place anywhere on the court.
It’s safe, predictable, and a breeze to set up. That makes it ideal for both coaches and individual players who like to practice on their own. As an added bonus, you can also store extra balls or other additional training equipment inside the cylinder if you don’t want to fuss with a bag.
This is definitely a unique defender, but it’s on the shorter side when compared to other top models. If you want to work on getting up high shots or learn to play in the paint, you will likely want something else. For cuts or quick movements, however, it’s a fantastic choice.
- Best for: Pad
- Key Features: Extremely durable. Reinforced handles. Dense-but-comfortable inner and outer material. Easy to hold and operate.
- Dimensions: 26.4 x 18.5 x 7.3 inches
- Materials: PVC and Foam
- Weight: 2.95 pounds
Though not a true dummy like the other options on this list, the pad serves a similar purpose in that it excellently emulates a defender. Crafted with thick 7.3-inch foam and made with a high-end PVC, the pad can dish out and take a beating without ever wearing down.
The strong material is a perfect way to learn how to both absorb and play around contact. You can take hits down low, or you can push through them on the wing. No matter what position you play, the pad enables you to get the hits you would in a real game.
The biggest downside of a pad is that you need someone to operate it. This is not something you can set up by yourself. If you have a training partner or coach, it’s great. Also be aware that the corners are a bit stiff, which can make some plays hit harder than others.
Best Basketball D-Man: What to Look For
When getting a basketball D-Man it’s best to keep the following traits in mind.
Anytime you look at a D-Man, you need to pay attention to its durability. Most models will go through a lot of use and abuse as time goes on. You don’t want something that will tear or lose its stability after a few months. Strong bases and powerful construction go a long way here.
Height and Adjustability
You want to pay attention to your D-Man’s height as well. Every model sits at a different number. Get something that will most realistically match up to the people you typically play against. When possible, go for an adjustable option that lets you set it at different heights.
There are several D-Man styles on the market. You need to get the one that suits your own play style. Static mesh options with a solid base are great for shooting, where pop-up or inflatable ones are better for absorbing contact. Lightweight models are good for dribbling as well.
The SKLZ D-Man is my pick for the top defender on this list. That’s because it gives you everything you need for a full, well-rounded practice. It’s lightweight, easy to adjust, and helps with all parts of your game. You can also take it or set it up anywhere.