Anyway.. Haters will counter that Wilt played against a bunch of stiffs in the 60s and 70s when the idea that a 7’1” center could be the most athletic player on the court was reserved for comic books. He had to get famous. Dennis Rodman was a nightmare matchup for any opponent and not because of how he looked at times. The way every player gets compared to Michael Jordan nowadays, that’s how it was with West back in the 60s and 70s. He won the Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, the same year he won his only championship in Boston and made the All-Defensive team 12 times. All you really need to know is that Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest center and it’s not even a debate. During the beginning of his professional career with the Seattle SuperSonics, DJ didn't seem like much of a defender, but he bloomed as his career went on. 1. It’s time to give Chris Paul his flowers. That’s a pretty large gap for a two-time MVP. Technically, Baylor earned one since he was part of the 1971-72 Lakers squad that won it all, but he only played 9 games that season, retiring well before the playoffs started because of a nagging knee injury at age 37. Can you imagine just how stellar those numbers would have been if the NBA had kept track of them during the first five seasons of Hayes' career? Maybe, just maybe LeBron James surpasses him in another four or five seasons, but it’s going take a herculean effort on The King’s part to supplant the greatest center ever whose longevity is practically unrivaled. Hope you enjoy my articles! —ZF, Crazy that Chuck is now underrated. He's no longer a star in the NBA, but Marcus Camby remains a terrific defender and shot blocker. Team: New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, New Jersey Nets, Career Per-Game Stats: 2.6 steals and 0.4 blocks, Defensive Accolades: Two-time All-Defensive First Team. His battles with Nikola Jokic in the paint in the Western Conference Finals and then with Jimmy Butler in the NBA Finals were impressive, to say the least. But if you hold being a third or fourth option in the Spurs system against him, you also have to consider the other side—what if he got the keys to a team earlier than he did? CP3 is always among the league leaders when it comes to steals, finishing atop the NBA multiple times in his still-young NBA career. Mutombo watching as the behemoth wagged his finger at you after sending the basketball back to where it came from. He had issues with his ankles early in his career forcing us to wait to see the greatness that we caught glimpses of during his time in college at Davidson. This is why he deserves to be on the list. Larry Bird once referred to Michael Cooper as the best defender he ever faced. Career Per-Game Stats: 0.7 steals and 2.3 blocks, Defensive Accolades: Eight-time All-Defensive First Team, Five-time All-Defensive Second Team. Power forwards have to guard the rim a lot of the time and they're one of the last lines of defense on the basketball court. During that span, he only averaged 0.8 steals per game and 0.4 blocks. Players don’t choose the era they play in, all we can do is look at who dominated it. That’s why even though he could barely get loose enough to play at the end of his final season, Bird was one of the most celebrated members of the legendary Dream Team. —ZO, When you talk about best PGs in NBA history, it would be impossible to not have Magic Johnson as No. He is one of the more underrated defenders of all time thanks to the temporal distance we now have between the present and when Havlicek played. Gary Payton was called The Glove because of his incredible defense, capable of smothering opposing players like a baseball glove does a baseball. West legitimately did it all, including leading the league in scoring during the 1969-70 season and assists during his lone championship season. Golden State won their first championship in four decades three years later. He’s often ridiculed for his lack of postseason success and zero NBA Finals appearances, but when it’s all said and done,CP3 is going down as one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game. And the best part? This center that played for five teams averaged 1.3 steals and exactly 2 blocks per game during his career. Fundamental," you have never received enough credit for your defense. Just watch some tape, enjoy, and appreciate defensive greatness from the greatest defensive player to ever do it. One of the greatest What Ifs in NBA history revolves around Bird’s back that he infamously injured while paving his mother’s driveway during the summer of 1985. Now just look at the NBA today. He is, without a doubt, the greatest shooter in the history of the game. Career Per-Game Stats: 1.4 steals and 3.0 blocks, Defensive Accolades: One-time Defensive Player of the Year, Four-time All-Defensive First Team, Four-time All-Defensive Second Team. Dominant seems like the only adjective to describe Shaq’s career. Bill Russell was the main reason for all of those titles and it was because of his defense. We don't think that's too out there. Alvin Robertson is actually the only player in NBA history to record a quadruple-double with steals as one of the four categories. His versatility, along with his shot-blocking ability, makes him one of the ten best defenders ever in the NBA. Their lockdown defense left offensive players scared to even dribble the ball against them. While he obviously was more known for his offensive brilliance and clutch performances, MJ was also a lockdown defender. Barkley started J-ing people up and shooting threes, forcing opponents to guard from all over the court and not just on the block. Wilt Chamberlain is ranked higher on this list because his numbers are just too ridiculous, but he couldn’t beat Bill even with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor’s help. We dnm't know what the reason for that is, but let's take a look at the numbers. He has the two Defensive Player of the Years, the two Finals MVPs, he’s put a franchise on his back en route to an NBA title, and he’s pretty much won his entire career. Of course his offensive game completely overshadows his defensive work. My guy was brought to tears when he looked back at how maniacal he was towards his teammates. 21 on our list. There’s virtually no formula to stop him. Nor we’re they expected to rip down double-digit boards on a nightly basis. Team: New York Knicks, Seattle Super Sonics, Orlando Magic, Career Per-Game Stats: 1.0 steals and 2.4 blocks. But Malone’s accolades compare quite favorably. Bird’s been supplanted by someone else on that mythical list, but the Hick from French Lick is forever a Legend. The Bad Boys wreaked havoc on the NBA’s Holy Trinity of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan and most of the damage that was done was on the orders of the 6’1” point god. Playing in the shadows of the greatest to ever play, Pippen got it done on the defensive side of the ball. When his ability to get in his rivals' heads is added to the mix, one could imagine how difficult it was to run the usual offense against a defense led by Gary Payton. People that have seen him play say he is the greatest defender ever and it isn't even close. Defensive Rating since 1973-74 I can only imagine how that shit looked back in those days. KG is able to guard from small forward to center with ease and always gives opposing players everything that he's got. "Statement defense right here. Too soon? Chuck played bigger than he was and was way more athletic than he was perceived. I mean, even at 35 years old he put together an All-Star year after everyone was so quick to label him as a deteriorating star. Three-time First Team All-NBA. Barkley couldn’t be stopped offensively either, beating out Jordan for the ‘93 MVP and taking his new team the Suns to the Finals where he lost to Jordan’s Bulls in six. His college career is practically unmatched, but since we’re talking professional basketball here know that he was the only player other than Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell to win an MVP between 1960 and 68. Erving’s career numbers are just as impressive as his plays. Copyright © 2020 NBA Media Ventures, LLC. This site is operated jointly by NBA and WarnerMedia. His defensive prowess was omnipresent throughout his career though.
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