He was a 9-time All-Defensive Team selection in his career and won 1979 Finals MVP with the SuperSonics. However, he was also one of the best defensive players of his era. He was all over the court, and he stuck to you like glue. Alvin Robertson's career was cut short by injury, but he still managed to get voted onto the NBA's All-Defensive Team 6 times and win the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award once. Dikembe Mutombo was the only other player to get 4! If he could hand check like Jordan and pippen, he would be remembered as one of the best on ball defenders ever. He finished his career with over 1,300 steals and 1,300 blocked shots, playing in only 12 seasons and coming off the bench for the majority of his last 4 seasons in the NBA. Michael Jordan Jordan is arguably the greatest defender at the shooting guard position. He was a force in the paint, earning the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year honor 4 times in his career. 4 DPotY awards! DPotY 91-92, in that year he averaged 4.5 Bpg + 2.3 Spg which is all-time NBA record for Bpg + Spg in a season (not counting Wilt and Russel). With as many dominant scorers as there are in today’s game, having a lockdown defender on your team is critical for winning games, especially in the playoffs. Just because Dr. J exposed him and when he was older he was beat off plays doesn't mean he was bad defender overall. He was a crafty guard known for being dominant on defense with the ability to guard many different positions. Even at 35, when he played against Celts in eastern finals in 76, Cowens said it was like having a curtain in front of him. So much Lebron hate... Smh. He also ranks 12th all-time in blocks. Best defensive center of all time. Chris Paul is a tremendous on ball defender and will seldom get beat off the dribble. Wow. Yes that includes Giannis. We all know a defensive rebound is the last step to a good stop. Bobby Jones is not exactly a household name when it comes to Hall of Fame basketball players, but he should be remembered due to his outstanding play on defense. He finished his career with 2,514 steals and averaged over 2 steals per game in 10 different seasons. People called him “The Glove” because of all the steals he would rack up. Athletic scorers have always received their fair share of accolades in a league where scoring is still essential to a team's success, however, when the games get tight it is often the defensive plays that can make a big difference. Athletic scorers have always received their fair shar. Kareem averaged over three blocks seven times in his career, and that includes his first four seasons in which blocks weren’t recorded. Frazier’s flashy offensive and defensive ways made him an entertaining player to watch. Russell changed the game of basketball by flying over to help on defense and being quick enough to get back to his man if the ball rotated back to him. 9. He was quick enough to poke the ball away from larger power forwards and could jump high enough and use his long arms to block shots of opponents who thought they had good position on him. The next closest on that list is Jason Kidd, who is over 700 steals behind him. it will apply to data controlled jointly by the NBA and WarnerMedia as well as other data controlled by WarnerMedia. The following 10 defensive players were not necessarily the best players of their time but were the best defenders of all-time. Maybe the best pick and roll defender ever. His defensive style was described as “aggressive,” as Hayes was a hound on the boards and an excellent post and perimeter defender. Shaq’s size allowed him to out-muscle anyone who tried to post him up and was a great shot-blocker as well. Bill Russell was the main reason for all of those titles and it was because of his defense. All rights reserved. Centers won most of the Defensive Player of the Year awards this decade. Way too low on this list...disappointed in all of you. His best season came in 1984-85, where he started all 82 games and averaged an absurd 5.6 blocks per game. Big Ben was one of the most intimidating players in NBA history. This site is operated jointly by NBA and WarnerMedia. Never overpursuing (putting yourself out of position to make a play), getting in the right spot for a rebound and ultimately shutting down any consistent points against you. Bruce Bowen was born to defend. Olajuwon also led the Houston Rockets to two NBA Championships. When considering many of the great defensive players of the league, a nod was given to many of the modern era players who have to neutralize players with more athleticism. Frazier never made an NBA All-Defensive Second Team. Undoubtly! Forget all the off-the-court antics and focus on his defensive and rebounding tenacity. Dennis Rodman The Worm was a scary player to go against in practice or a game. In addition to winning the NBA Championship in 1978 with Washington and being the #10 all-time scorer, Hayes was a dominant defensive player. Olajuwon led the Houston Rockets to two NBA titles shutting down a young Shaquille O'Neal to allow the Rockets to sweep the Orlando Magic 4-0 leading in one of the championship series. The Glove is definitely the best defensive guard in NBA history, locked down 3 positions at point guard, and didn't take risks. Jordan is one the best defenders of all time, having led the league in steals three times, made 9 All-Defensive Teams, and won DPOY in 1987-88. He has made an All-Defensive Team 5 times and is a 2-time DPOY. Jordan averaged at least 1 block per game in 4 different seasons, but was better known for his ability to force difficult shots. Help defense originated with Russell and his double teams resulted in numerous turnovers and blocked shots. “The Big E” is perhaps one of the most underrated stars in NBA history. His defense game was better than offense, watch his last move in Chicago at 1998, stealing the ball from one of the best players ever in the Nba and take one of the best shots in the history of the NBA 20 secinds later..It was a combination of his greatness in the those 2 relms...Jordan is the GOAT by far from James. KG's defense made other players better on defense and that's why he should be in the top 5. Bill Russell is the meaning behind the popular phrase in sports, “Defense wins championships.” Appreciate defensive greatness from the greatest defensive player to ever do it. Dikembe Mutombo. Manage Preferences, Ranking 70 Greatest 3-Point Shooters in NBA History, Ranking 10 Most Clutch Players in NBA History, Here’s What Dwayne Bacon Will Bring to the Orlando Magic, Orlando Magic Sign Free Agent Dwayne Bacon, Orlando Magic Re-Sign Michael Carter-Williams, Aaron Gordon Helps Sponsor the Magic and Amway Corporation’s Car Trunk Turkey Dinner Distribution. Winning DPOY is not a small feat, especially as a small forward. The most LOL-worthy things the Internet has to offer. Although it is still early in his career, I think that it is safe to say that Giannis Antetokounmpo is already one of the best defensive players ever to do it. He is also ranked #4 on the all-time steals list. Payton is still the only point guard in NBA history to win a Defensive Player of the Year Award (1996), averaging at least two steals per game in eight of … Copyright © 2000-2020 Sports Reference LLC. Lebron deserves way more credit than he's even getting NOW. This… Payton’s constant trash-talk to players on the court irritated them to no end. Since coming out of high school to enter the NBA in 2001, Chandler has enjoyed a long and successful NBA career thanks to his defensive talents. Personally, Rodman just got on my nerves after his decision to "be himself". Here lies the greatest defensive player of all-time. The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award winner was on the NBA's All-Defensive First or Second Team 9 times throughout his 18 year career.