Welcome back to the "Greatest Ever" series, as we continue with the ranks of the greatest defenders in the NBA History.

There's a famous quote saying defense wins championships, which is absolutely true. That has been proved dozens of times. The league's top defensive team earns the championship honors and goes home with the title, so you need this. Playing defense is easier said than done, because it requires a lot of hard work, running, incredible desire and so on. There are many ways of stopping your man such as blocking a shot, stripping the ball, taking a charge, pressuring your man etc..

Depending on the position, there are interior, perimeter, man to man and versatile stoppers out there who all play equally great defense but make different impacts on the court. For an example, a defender like Dwight can make a bigger impact than a guy like Kobe. It often also depends on the position they play.

Big men production, in general, is more valuable than the guards and forwards since they defend their man, clean the glass, help their team mates, challenge and deny shot attempts, box out their man etc...

Guards can guard their man while also helping down low on the double-team, play the passing lanes, shut down the man who they are assigned to, box out and even help on the boards. Forwards shut down their men, then box out, grab boards, play the passing lanes, help down low, block shots etc...

It's really hard to judge defense. Some defenders rely on their intelligence, some rely on their athleticism, some on their skills, some on the fundamentals and so on. The league has had a lot of very good defenders and here are the greatest defensive players in the NBA History!

Best Perimeter Defender

To me, no one ever defended the perimeter better than Gary Payton whose nickname ("The Glove") describes his ability to defend perfectly, for he is the only Point Guard to ever win Defensive Player of the Year. Payton stood at 6'4", had phenomenal footwork, quick hands, toughness and tenacity to rise above all on the perimeter against tons of prolific scorers. He had no problem shutting them all down as he masted the art of steals while not allowing a clear shot.

He was known for his defensive performances in his career against some of the top scorers of all times. He held his own against even the legendary Michael Jordan, who he put to his worst Finals performances and slowed him to 27.3 points, stopping him five times under 30 points and holding him to 42 percent from the field.

There is another strong candidate in Scottie Pippen, who had a perfect size to defend with 6'8, had long arms, terrific footwork and a needed aggression to excel. He defended well anyone. Sid the Squid is terrific as well, Walt Frazier, Dennis Johnson, Michael Jordan and so on.

Here is my list

1.Gary Payton

2.Scottie Pippen

3.Sidney Moncrief

4.Michael Jordan

5.Dennis Johnson

Honorable Mention : Bobby Jones, Walt Frazier, Bruce Bowen, Joe Dumars, Michael Cooper

Best Interior Defender

Bill Russell revolutionized the concepts of defense in the NBA and was a phenomenal defensive player who mastered the fundamentals to dominate at the defensive end and change the game of basketball with that style.

He basically built the fundamentals of the blocked shot, who made blocking shots into an art form, because he had perfect timing, didn't foul the shooter and when he blocked the shot, kept his team in possession since he would tip the ball to his teammate or to himself.

He turned blocks into rebounding chances, which is superb. He was a lock-down defender who would use his high basketball IQ, skills and athleticism to stop his man. He had many performances slowing down the great Wilt to below his standard games in the Finals and Playoffs.

He was efficient in cleaning the glass, as he grabbed more then 22.5 boards, good enough for No. 2 on the all-time list, but he is the NBA's all-time rebound leader in the Playoffs (24.9) and in the Finals as well. In general, Bill Russell has a legitimate case for the honor of the game's best defender of any time. Other candidates with similar cases are Hakeem Olajuwon, who stands tall in this debate, then the always terrific, consistent Tim Duncan.

Here are my choices:

1.Bill Russell

2.Hakeem Olajuwon

3.Tim Duncan

4.Nate Thurmond

5.Dikembe Mutombo

Honorable Mention:Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, Artis Gilmore, Bill Walton, Kevin Garnett, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Alonzo Mourning

Best Thief:Walt Frazier

Getting steals efficiently while not letting your man blow past you or score a jump shot is difficult, but this guy's done it almost as an artistic form.Walt Frazier was perhaps the best thief in NBA History, who had hands quick as a snake's tongue, so he was a threat in his entire career. Like Russell, he would have probably been in a good position to be the all-time steals leader.

Then, you can throw John Stockton who was also phenomenal in this aspect of basketball, Alvin Robertson, Jason Kidd and Chris Paul who's quickly earning his reputation as an elite stealer even though he is much younger and has a chance to achieve big things. Here is my list

1.Walt Frazier

2.John Stockton

3.Alvin Robertson

4.Jason Kidd

5.Gary Payton

Honorable Mention:Chris Paul (will be on this list one day), Hakeem Olajuwon (9th on the all time list, 1st for all big men), Clyde Drexler, Maurice Cheeks, Allen Iverson

Best Shot Blocker

Blocked shots are a powerful action in the game of basketball, which is often the last line of defense in order to stop someone's shot attempt.

No one better challenges the shots in the air better than the big men. Bill Russell did it best, as he built the fundamentals of the blocked shot and mastered these three things for denying shots: perfect timing, not fouling the shooter, and tipping the ball to himself/teammates.

It's a shame blocks and stats were not an official statistic during his time since his total would have probably topped anyone's. Wilt, his rival, was phenomenal in this area of the sport and Hakeem also as well. Then Dikembe, who had no trouble going against anyone and Duncan, who has a similar style to Bill.

Here is my list:

1.Bill Russell

2.Hakeem Olajuwon

3.Wilt Chamberlain

4.Dikembe Mutombo

5.Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Honorable Mention: Nate Thurmond, David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Walton, Artis Gilmore, Ben Wallace, Mark Eaton, Tim Duncan

Most Versatile Defender

Don't worry NBA fans, despite how bad Dennis Rodman is off the court, what he did on it was fantastic; a rebounder and defender of his class is hard to find. A player like him, now, could turn a team into a championship contender.

The Worm is now one of the leading players to enter the Hall Of Fame this year. He defended fast and small point guards such as Gary Payton to giants of the game like Shaquille O'Neal, which no one else did better. His versatility and skills on the defensive end gave him a reputation as a superb defender his entire career, a consistent place in the All-NBA Defensive Teams, a five-time Champion and two Defensive Player of the Year awards.

He wasn't the quickest, strongest or fastest out there but was just that good of an all around stopper. Let's not forget about Bobby Jones and Dave Debusschere too.

Here is my list:

1.Dennis Rodman

2.Bobby Jones

3.Dave Debusschere

4.Scottie Pippen

5.James Worthy

Honorable Mention:Sidney Moncrief, Gary Payton, Bruce Bowen, Michael Cooper, Bill Russell, Hakeem Olajuwon

Best Defensive Rebounder

Defensive rebounds also belong in the category of defense, which is another factor for showing the paint protection in the favour of the big men.

In terms of defensive rebounding, the boxing out technique, skills, strength to get a position, sense of where the ball is going and much more can all be factors for a domination of a certain player under the basket. There were many good rebounders in their own paint, but Artis Gilmore, with his 11.514 defensive boards are enough for me to consider him as No. 1, barely outmatching Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Robert Parish and many more.

From the forwards, notable rebounders were guys such as Elgin Baylor and Larry Bird, while from the guards, I'd say Jason Kidd tops them all. Let's not forget about Bill Russell, Nate Thurmond and Wilt Chamberlain who were also terrific, but they left the game before these stats were accepted in the league, so I'd rank them but still mention it.

Taking The Charge:Derrick Fisher

Taking charges is also another way of slowing down your man, but in order to do this, you have to be ahead of your man and stand there for at least two seconds, so the refs can call an offensive foul and believe me, it's not easy to do it. However, there have been players like Fisher, Ginobili and Varejao who have done it the best, but also added nice acting performances that I'm sure would all get awarded. From all of these, no one did it better than D Fish.

Best Off-Ball Defender

Off-Ball Defense is also another way of judging how a player did on that end of the court, which can be measured by stats and by simply watching. There have been players who have played the passing lanes, blocked shots, helped on the double-team, get in the paint for boards and so on. Players like these can have big impacts on a team.

For an example, the ability to play good defense in the lanes gave the Bulls in the 90's huge success since they broke down the ball movement, interrupted game plans and so on. From the past, legends like Pippen, Jordan and many others excelled at this. Over the past two-three years, the best off-ball defender has been LeBron James. His great abilities got him deep in the voting for the league's top defensive player two years ago. It helped guys like Jordan and Robinson big time to earn awards.

Big men were terrific in this category too. From the recent history of the NBA, Hakeem Olajuwon stands out on top. David Robinson was impressive too. Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, especially Russ were awesome too.

Here is my list:

1.Hakeem Olajuwon—His off-ball defense was second to none. Without a disrespect for other centers such as Russ and Chamberlain, he just did it best by far. He challenged shots in the air strongly but also was 9th in steals overall. He had years when he averaged 3-plus blocks and 2-plus steals, which is amazing.

2.Michael Jordan—The only player to record 200 steals and 100 blocks, at least twice.

3.Scottie Pippen

4.Ben Wallace

5.Wilt Chamberlain

Honorable Mention: Bill Russell, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade.

Best Defensive Leader

In this picture, there are two of the greatest defensive leaders in the NBA History; those two are Kevin Garnett and Bill Russell.

A defensive leader can have such a positive impact on a certain player. In general, these players have the ability to translate that energy, toughness, positive strength and will for winning, which can mean a lot of things in a team. When the Boston Celtics got Kevin Garnett in 2008, I am positive that few believed that his toughness and intensiveness would translate that well to the Celtics, which happened to be one of the factors for Boston's successful run in the same year.

Another example can be the signing of Ron Artest to the Lakers, who quickly established himself into the exact same thing that KG did with their rivals, and now, L.A. are one tough team. From the past, the most notable teams to mention are the Celtics from the 60's, 80's, Knicks from the 70's, 90's, Showtime Lakers and so on.

Bill Russell had it best with the C's way back, who from day one single-handedly turned them from a super offensive team, to a superb defensive team,l ed by the same player to win an amazing 11 championships in 13 years.

Here is my list:

1.Bill Russell

2.Kevin Garnett

3.Ben Wallace

4.Dikembe Mutombo

5.Willis Reed

Best Defensive Guards

Here is a quick look at the best defensive guards in the NBA History. This is my list

1.Sidney Moncrief

2.Michael Jordan

3.Gary Payton

4.Joe Dumars

5.Dennis Johnson

6.Jerry West

7.Walt Frazier

8.Jason Kidd

9.Alvin Robertson

10.Kobe Bryant

Honorable Mention:Michael Cooper, KC Jones (first lock down defender ever from the guards position)

Best Defensive Forwards

Here are the best defensive forwards in the NBA History. My list has

1.Dennis Rodman

2.Scottie Pippen

3.Kevin Garnett

4.Bobby Jones

5.Dave Debusschere

6.Elvin Hayes

7.Bruce Bowen

8.Ron Artest

9.Shane Battier

10.Elgin Baylor

Honorable Mention:Gus Johnson (has two All-Defensive First Team), John Havlicek, Maurice Lucas, James Worthy

Best Defensive Centers

Here is a quick look at the best defensive centers the game has ever seen

1.Bill Russell

2.Hakeem Olajuwon

3.Tim Duncan (he's listed as a Power Forward, but on defense is more of a center and that's where he stands on those All-Defensive Teams)

4.Nate Thurmond

5.Dikembe Mutombo

6.Wilt Chamberlain

7. David Robinson

8. Artis Gilmore

9. Bill Walton

10.Patrick Ewing

Honorable Mention:Willis Reed, Robert Parish and so on.

Best Defensive Players Listed In The Best Line Ups

Here is a quick look at the best defensive line ups:

All-Time First Best Defensive Line Up

C:Hakeem Olajuwon

PF:Bill Russell

SF:Dennis Rodman

SG:Sidney Moncrief

PG:Gary Payton

All-Time Second Best Defensive Line Up

C:Nate Thurmond

PF:Tim Duncan

SF:Kevin Garnett

SG:Michael Jordan

PG:Walt Frazier

All-Time Third Best Defensive Line Up

C:Dikembe Mutombo

PF:Elvin Hayes

SF:Bobby Jones

SG:Joe Dumars

PG:Dennis Johnson


As a fan of the league, it's really hard to judge, overall, who was the finest defensive player to ever walk on an NBA hardwood. The reason that I included these categories are because players from different positions often have their own ways of slowing down their opponents.

I'll try to rank them all, in a top 15 list that will feature five guards, five forwards and five centers all ranked in one place. I'll write in a bigger list, because I hate when I've left someone out and that one happens to be very good at something.

That's why I will feature a top 15 list that will be in a specific order. Check my choices from the last to the best. Enjoy!

20.Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Kareem Abdul Jabbar is one of the greatest post defenders in the history of the NBA. His high basketball IQ, length, and athleticism made him a terrific shot blocker mainly from the side and stats prove that as he led the league in blocks an incredible four times.

His offensive skills overshadowed his great presence in the post on the other end of the court. He covered his man pretty well most of the time and affected shots in the paint while cleaning up the glass for the Lakers. His totals and averages are even more impressive because it wasn't until his third season that blocks and steals became official statistics.

The awards and stats say how great a defender this guy was. The DPOY award was inaugurated well after his finest years of protecting the paint, so he never won one.

Notable Career Facts and Stats

All-NBA Defensive Team Selection: 11 (Five All-First Defensive/Six All-Second Defensive Team)

Block Titles: Four

His career total of 3,189 blocked shots is ranked No. 3 on the all-time lists

His playoff total of 476 is the all-time best in playoff history

His playoff average of 2.4 blocks per game is ranked No. 8 in playoff history

His playoff total of 1,273 rebounds is ranked No. 5 in playoff history

His career total of 9,394 defensive rebounds is ranked No. 9 all time

His career defensive rating of 94.49 is ranked No. 2 all time

His playoff defensive rating of 13.74 is ranked No. 4 in playoff history

He has led the NBA twice in total defensive rebounds

His total of 1,111 defensive rebounds is an NBA record

19.Bill Walton

The often overlooked Bill Walton, when healthy, is in the conversation of the league's finest interior defenders of all time.

He wasn't as athletic and strong, but mastered the fundamentals well and his great basketball IQ added nicely, making him quite a defensive force in the middle.

Walton's impact on defense was really on a whole new level in his healthy years, especially during the Portland championship season when he managed to lead the league in categories such as blocked shots and rebounds per game.

He held his own against tough opponents e.g Kareem.

Notable Career Facts and Stats

He led the NBA in rebounds (14.4) and blocked shots (3.3) per game in 1976-77 season

He averaged 19 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game through that Finals series!

He went for 29 rebounds and seven blocks in Game 3, and 23 rebounds plus seven blocks in Game 6 of the 76-77 Finals.

All NBA Defensive Selections: Two (All-First Defensive Team)

His career defensive rebound percent of 30.2 is ranked No. 1 in the history of the NBA!

His career defensive rating of 96.3 is ranked No.8 in the history of the NBA!

His playoff defensive rating of 97.8 is ranked No. 3 in playoff history!

18.Artis Gilmore

The most overlooked big man of all time, the 7'2" Artis Gilmore wasn't so much known for his offense, but when he went up to block a shot and grab rebounds, everybody knew who he was.

He had incredible strength and jumping ability, and that, coupled with his long arms made him one of the best interior defenders.

He established himself as one of the most fearless shot blockers, and knew how to clean the glass with efficiency, which the numbers speak to.

Note: The Defensive Player of the Year award was started well after his career years, so he didn't win one, but Kareem Abdul Jabbar said Gilmore was the best defender who he ever faced!

Notable Career Facts and Stats (Featuring NBA/ABA Stats Combined):

All-Defensive Selections: Six (Five All-ABA First Defensive/ One All-NBA Second Defensive Team)

His career total of 11,514 defensive rebounds is ranked No. 1 all time

His career total of 3,178 blocked shots is ranked No. 4 all time

His career block average of 2.4 is ranked No. 14 all time

His career defensive rebound percent of 24.9 is ranked No. 13 all time

His playoff total of 168 blocked shots is ranked No. 21 all time

His playoff average of 2.2 blocked shots per game is ranked No. 10 all time

His playoff total of 808 defensive rebounds is ranked No. 27 all time

His career defensive win share of 75.54 is ranked No. 10 all time

He led the ABA five times in total defensive rebounds!

He led the ABA three times in total blocked shots!

17.Patrick Ewing

16.Gary Payton

Former Seattle Super Sonic players,a legend remembered for his defensive performances,Garry Payton was the best perimeter player in the history of the NBA!

The 6'4 Payton strengths were toughness,courage,strong footwork combined with rarely seen skills for a point guard to dominate on the other end of the court.He also played well on the lanes,as he did managed to lead twice in steals per game

He mastered the art form of steals on his man while not give him clear shot.He was so outstanding that he put the playoffs' top scoring machine,Michael Jordan to just 27 points per game while holding him in 5 games under 30 points,once on 22 and worst shooting percent

The career feat came in 1996 when he won the Defensive Player Of The Year,which adds nicely to record 9x straight All-First Defensive selections and his total of steals 2445 is ranked #3 on the all time lists.Can you think of Payton as a Top 10 defender ever?

Who says guards can't defend...

15.Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones is an unknown name to youthful generation of basketball, but all the students of the history of this league know what he did best and that was playing stealer defense.

Yes, that's right. Jones had skills, but he maximized it through amazing hustle, determination and toughness to join the elite class of all-time defensive wizards. He was a true defensive wizard who was strong on the perimeter, on his man, inside, everywhere.

He was one of the most admired defenders to ever put a uniform on, spent 8-10 seasons in the NBA and a couple in the ABA. He was consistent in the All-Defensive selections.

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year: 0

-All NBA/ABA Defensive Teams: 10 (Nine-Time All-First, One All-Second)

14.Alonzo Mourning

A powerful presence in the paint who possessed remarkable athleticism, terrific strength, nice length and timing, Alonzo Mourning was one of the game's greatest defensive players of all time.

He was an intimating presence in the interior because of his already named physical advantages which made up for his lack of size (6'10) and he was a skilled stopper too. Mourning was one of the best shot blockers to ever play in the NBA, who challenged pretty much everything well, had nice numbers, alerted dozens of attempts because of that and was consistent in doing it. His numbers speak for that as well.

Zo was a monster on the boards, who could glean the glass very well and had couple of seasons over 10 rebounds in average. His highest mark was 13.3 in his sophomore season as part of the Charlotte Hornets, who collected big numbers despite playing with Larry Johnson was capable to pull down a ton of missed shots as well. He pretty much became the Hornets all time leader in blocks very soon after short number of games, a proof of his dominance.

In his prime, he was the top overall defensive player who led all twice in blocks with outstanding 3.7 and 3.9 rejections that earned him two Defensive Player Of The Year awards. He was an amazing one on one defender as well, who challenged all of the great offensive big men in his era like Shaq, Hakeem who were two of the best players to ever step foot on a basketball hardwood.

Notable Career Facts

-Defensive Player Of The Year awards:two (won them in his prime)

-All NBA Defensive Teams:two (largely because he played with Hakeem, Ewing, Robinson and so on)

-Career Rebounds:7.137 (8.5)---------------------------------------------------665 (7.0)

-Career Blocked Shots:2.356 (2.8)-----------------------------------------------215 (2.3)

-His career block total ranks No.12 on the all time list

-His career blocking average ranks No.6 on the all time list

-His career block percent ranks No.6 on the all time list

-His playoffs block total ranks No.16 on the all time list

-His playoffs blocking average ranks No.9 on the all time list

13.Kevin Garnett

The Big Ticket,is one of the best interior defenders in the history of the NBA,part of the game that he took to a whole new level in his team since '08,the Boston Celtics

His combination of athleticism,strength and speed combined with the fantastic skills made him a strong presence in the paint on defense,a force that has feared everyone in the league and still does it almost with easy

His defensive presence was the key to the Boston Celtics 2008 Championship run where he locked one of the most skilled big men in the league Pau Gasol and showed his toughness while questioning his rival's toughness as well

He intimated guys with his blocked shots,when he would swat the shot and let you know that he's in the building.Like he has consistently through the course of his career,when the refs call for example a foul,someone shots and KG takes the ball before it hits the mark...

Garnett also not only that he did all of that but mainly in his days as a Timberwolf,he played well on the lanes and after he played for one of the most popular franchises around,his one on one defense and ability to stay on the pick with other players is also brilliant as much is his ability to clean the glass!

Notable Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year:1 (2008)

-All NBA Defensive Selections:10 (8x All-First Defensive////2x All-Second Defensive Teams)

-His career total of 9326 defensive rebounds is ranked #7 on the all time list (best of all current)

-His career total of 1790 blocked shots is ranked at #23 on the all time list

-His playoff average of 1.43 blocked shots is ranked #30 in the playoffs history

-His career total of 1513 steals is ranked #4 among the current and is one of the better for power forwards

-His playoff total of 832 defensive rebounds is ranked #25 on the all time list!

-His career defensive rebound percent of 25.6 is ranked at #12 on the all time lists

-His playoff defensive rebound percent of 25.9 is ranked #6 in the playoffs history!

-4x times leader in total defensive rebounds grabbed!

12.Michael Jordan

As much as he was nearly an unstoppable offensive force, he was as nearly as good on the defensive end and is one of the greatest defensive players in NBA History.

Jordan was an athletic, skilled and quick defender with nice footwork and nice work with the hands that made him such a nice overall player and lock-down stopper any night. He played the passing lanes well and had an incredible amount of blocks for his position.

He was phenomenal in off/on-ball defense for which he, in 1988, was awarded with a league's award for the top defender for that season. He can be argued as the finest defensive guard of all time, due to many factors, which adds volumes.

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year: 1 (1988)

-All NBA Defensive Selections: 9 (All-First each, shares the record with Payton)

-Steals: 2,514 (2.3)----------------------------------------376 (2.10)

-Ranks No.1 in most blocked shots for guards

-Ranks No.2 in most steals for career

-Ranks No.3 on the all-time list for career steals per game

-Ranks No.6 on the playoffs all-time list in most steals per game

-Ranks No.2 on the playoffs in most steals per game

11.David Robinson

A 7'2" muscular, athletic, quick and strong center with a nice vertical jump, David Robinson was one of the best defensive players to step on an NBA hardwood. He was one of the most athletic players to ever play the game of basketball, who used his physical advantages to be a force.

All of those named things above gave him huge strength in protecting the basket against dominate big guys in his entire career. He excelled at shot blocking, which was his strength on defense that have earned him a good reputation. He's arguably one of the top five shot blockers of any time, as he averaged amazing 4.5 swat shots when he won his only block crown but he did also average 3.9 rejections in his first two seasons. That's domination!

He was a prolific presence on the glass as well, who led once all in it and had high numbers in the start of his career. The Admiral was until recently the Spurs all time leader boards until Duncan passed it. He was also interrupting passes like crazy. He had some seasons when he ranked top 5 in steals, which is crazy! His greatest achievement came when he won Defensive Player of the Year in a competition of many all time greats.

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year: one (1992)

-All NBA Defensive Selections: Eight (4x All-First)

-Rebounds: 10,497 (10.6)---------------1301 boards (10.6)

-Blocks: 2,954 (3.0)-------------------------312 blocks (2.5)

-Ranks No.5 in terms of most blocks during the playoffs

-Ranks No.6 in most blocked shots per game during the playoffs

-Ranks No.6 on the all-time list in most blocked shots

-Ranks No.4 on the all-time list in most blocked shots per game

-Ranks No.30 in most rebounds per game during career

10.Wilt Chamberlain

Although he is more known for his offensive domination, like leading the league a dozen times in scoring, and once even in assists, Wilt wasn't all about offense. He was a force in his own paint as he translated his physicality, attitude, skills, intelligence and aggression on defense which made him one of the most elite stoppers in the NBA History. He was definitely feared largely because of his shot blocking skills, which were nothing less than legendary.

When he blocked the shot, it often end up way, way back. He made people think twice on scoring against him, or driving to the paint. He refused to be put on a poster as he challenged all of the attempts in the interior which is the reason why he'd been the all time leader in this category had most likely blocks were recorded in the time he was active. Chamberlain was so dominant on the glass, who holds the top career average and total with nice advantage over his rival Russell.

He led the league 11 times in rebounding, a feat no one came close to and even in the late part of his career, he grabbed 18, 19 rebounds with a comfortable difference ahead of everyone else. He set the record of 60 boards in a single game, holds another achievement for having collected most missed shots in a playoff series with amazing 30.2 in average, who recorded in both total and average most rebounds in a 6 game playoff and Finals series too.

His strength was too much, his length made it tough, his vertical jump allowed him to go up so high to stop attempts, he was quick and could cover mobile big men yet still stop in the paint and so on. He was a beast.

Notable Career Stats and Facts

All-NBA Defensive Selections: Two (Both are All-First Defensive Teams)

His career total of 23,924 rebounds is the best all time

His career average of 22.9 rebounds per game is the best all time

His career defensive win share of 93.9 is ranked No. 4 all time

His playoff defensive win share of 15.81 is ranked No. 2 all time

His playoff average of 24.46 rebounds per game is second-best all time

His playoff total of 3,913 rebounds is also second-best all time

He led the league 11 times in rebounding, which is by far more times than anyone else

9.Sidney Moncrief

Whenever you hear the name Sidney Moncrief, two things should be remembered: complete game and just amazing defensive abilities, which earned him the reputation as one of the best defenders to play in NBA History.

A consistent, determined stopper, with a strong body who had above average shot blocking skills thanks to his 36 inch vertical jump, which he combined with his superb skills to dominate on defense, like few had of any time.

He didn't have so many awesomely high stats in blocks and steals, but his determination to be on the top as a defensive wizard and overall, made him a loved player during his career at the Bucks, a fan favorite and an admired figure from other stars.

This quote says it all: "In that environment, you were always on the defensive, because you never wanted to show that you could be dominated in any way."

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year: 2 (1982,83)

-All NBA Defensive Teams: 5 (Four-Time All-First selections)

-One of the better blocking guards

8.Scottie Pippen

The superb skilled, quick, athletic and 6'8" Scottie Pippen had all the tools to excel at the defensive end, and that's exactly what he did. He became one of the greatest defensive players the game has ever seen in the Bulls jersey.

While he may never get his credit because of Michael Jordan, still, no one can take away anything for what he did at his finest. That was being a defensive stalwart his entire career, as he was almost the perfect defender.

He defended on the perimeter like few had and was capable of defending the bigger forwards inside. For these reasons he was one of the most versatile defenders of all time and such an overall beast at the other end of the court.

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player of the Year: None

-All NBA Defensive Selections: Nine Times (All-First Defense for each)

-Steals:2307 (2.0)----------------------------------------------395 steals (1.9)

-Ranks No.1 in the playoffs history for most steals

-Ranks No.1 in the playoffs history for most steals record by a forward

-Ranks No.6 on the all time list, for most career steals

-Steals title: 1 (2.9)

-Often led his teams in blocks and assists, from time to time even in steals

7.Ben Wallace

For a big man, Ben Wallace is not that big of a dude, but regardless of that, he has made his mark as one of the best defensive players the game has ever seen.

He had phenomenal strength, athleticism, skills and put in hard work in order to dominate in the paint with his defense, stopping often much bigger opponents like Shaquille O'Neal. He often intimidated players when driving to the rim.

He was one of the top help defenders of all time, who was the most feared stopper in the history of the NBA, which is a legacy that still stands. He owns dozens of records, nice stats as an extra bonus to his work and is a model for all non-drafted players.

He can be argued much further, actually, all the way to the top since a case can be made, but in my list, he sits right here.

Career Facts:
  • Defensive Player Of The Year: 4 (2003,04,05,06____shares that record with Dikembe)
  • All NBA Defensive Teams: 6 (5x All-First)
  • Rebound titles: 2x (15.4,13.0)
  • Rebounds: 10,034 (10.1)------------------------------------1454 (11.2)
  • Blocks: 2,055 (2,1)--------------------------------------------250 (1.9)
  • Ranks No.16 in the playoffs history for most blocks per game recorded ever
  • Ranks No.10 in the playoffs history for most blocks
  • Ranks No.18 on the all time list for career blocks
  • Ranks No.41 in most rebounds grabbed per game in career
  • Ranks No.34 on the all time list for most career rebounds
  • Ranks No.55 on the all time lists for most steals
  • Had 6 seasons of at least,10+ boards,2+ blocks and 1+ steals per game

6.Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo had the tools to become a great defender as he was such a big center, 7'1", strong, athletic, skilled with long arms to establish himself as one of the biggest defensive players in the history of the NBA.

Mutombo was an outstanding presence on defense who was, perhaps, the best shot blocker in the air duels right in your face, and one of the best shot blockers of all-time overall as well. He was also an outstanding help defender too.

He was so dominate as an interior stopper that he ranks at the near top of it, as he once recorded 31 blocks in the biggest upset in the league's history, earning him the most Defensive Player of the Year awards in the history of professional basketball.

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year: 4 (NBA record,shares it with Big Ben)

-All NBA Defensive Selections: 6 (including 3x All-First)

-Blocked shots: 3,289 (2.8)--------------------------251 (2.5)

-Rebounds: 12,359 (10.3)-----------------------------------962 (9.5)

-Ranks at No.2 in most career blocks

-Ranks at No.7 in most blocks per game

-Ranks at No.35 in most career rebounds per game

-Ranks at No.18 in most boards grabbed for career

-Ranks at No.10 in most playoff blocks

-Ranks at No.7 in most blocks per game during the playoffs

-Ranks at No.15 in most career defensive win share

-Ranks at No.8 in career defensive rebound percent

-3x block titles

-5x leader in total blocks

-2x rebound titles

5.Nate Thurmond

A remarkable physically gifted center who played with defense with pride but is in the shadows of his peers like Russell and Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond was indeed one of the greatest defenders of all time with a good case of being the best as well.

It's a shame injuries slowed him a little bit time, but he was a real force in his own paint in so many ways. He possessed incredible athleticism, strength, awesome vertical jump, instincts and length to be an all time great in this aspect of the game. He was additionally sensational in one on one match ups, as he could stop his man and still be a presence. He was fantastic in blocking shots who is one of the top shot blockers ever. Some say he could block more shots in his prime than Hakeem, which isn't an easy thing.

It's unfortunately that stat wasn't official part from the start of his career as he would have ranked near the top. Thurmond was a dominant presence on the glass, who even though put awesome numbers, he never led the league in rebounding. He did grab over 20 rebounds in two season, he also has career average of 15.0 that is ranked at the 5th spot. For a period of four years, he collected 19.7 boards. In a period for two season, he collected 20.5 missed shots a game. Phenomenal, isn’t it?

Nate the Great was one of the rare players to record at least 20 points and 20 boards in a single season joining Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell for that accomplishment. He still holds the record for most boards grabbed in a single quarter with 18 and is also officially the first one to record a quadruple double.

He was the ultimate Kareem and Wilt stopper, as Jabbar said that Nate was the toughest defender he ever faced. A good praise from a big rival, isn’t it? He held the 7’2 opponent who to a big time decrease in production thanks to the tough and great defense by Nate. All of them, including Russ said that he was their toughest challenge. When Kareem faced Nate, his production usually decreased big time. Same for Wilt as well. He was arguably the finest one on one defender from the center’s position.

Notable Career Stats and Facts

All-NBA Defensive Selections: Five (Two All-First Defensive/Three All-Second Defensive Teams)

His career rebound total of 14,464 rebounds is ranked No. 9 all time

His career rebound average of 15.0 is ranked No. 5 all time

His playoff total of 1,101 rebounds is ranked No. 33 in playoff history

His playoff average of 13.6 rebounds per game is ranked No. 10 in playoff history

His career defensive win share rating of 62.2 is ranked No. 23 in playoff history

4.Tim Duncan

Often viewed as boring but very efficient, Tim Duncan is one of the greatest defensive players in the history of the NBA who's still a dominate defensive presence in the paint and is the perfect fundamentally sound defender. He could be even argued as the finest of them all.

That's right. He has never been a guy who would go in too many unneeded air match ups just to stop a shot attempt near the rim. His size, length and skills combine with his superb instincts and high basketball IQ allowing him to outsmart his opponents.

He's second to Bill Russell in terms of beating his opponents in the air, because he has incredible timing, a sense not to foul the shooter and not to allow second chances for his opponents, which makes him one of the best shot blockers.

He held even the great Shaq attack to 23 points per game during his rival's finest seasons. He excelled at cleaning the glass by understanding boxing out and dominating in the clutch. For example, he had like 15 boards to go with three blocks in the '03 Finals.

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year: 0 (he still waits for it)

-All NBA Defensive Selections: 13 (including 8x All-First)

-NBA All time leader in most defensive selections

-Career Rebounds: 11,529 (11.6)--------------------------2114 (12.4)

-Career Blocked shots: 2,273 (2.3)------------------------438 (2.6)

-Ranks at No.4 in the playoffs for most blocked shots

-Ranks at No.11 in most career blocked shots

-Ranks at No.16 in career blocks per game

-Ranks at No.24 in terms of most rebounds grabbed in career

-Ranks at No.20 in career rebounds per game

-Ranks at No.15 in playoff rebounds per game

-Ranks at No.7 in career defensive win shares (82.9)

-Ranks at No.5 in playoffs defensive win shares (13.0)

-Ranks at No.2 in career defensive rating

-Ranks at No.14 in playoff defensive rating

-Ranks at No.7 in career defensive win share

-Ranks at No.5 in playoff defensive win share

-Ranks at No.7 in career defensive rebound percent

-Ranks at No.9 in playoff defensive rebound percent

3.Dennis Rodman

The leading player from the Hall Of Fame nominations, Dennis Rodman was one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game called basketball. Although, he was a very crazy person off the court in order to get publicity; on the court he was outstanding.

The surprising part is back in college, this guy was an effective scorer but understood that he would help more on the other end of the court, and he became a total stud. His hustle, hard work, skills and instincts earned him a reputation as a phenomenal defender. He could be argued as the best of them all in terms of defense.

He was indeed the most versatile stopper who dominated in the three major things of defense: on the perimeter, in the post, on his man and was terrific in team help D as well. He guarded giants like Shaq, Hakeem to the likes of Jordan, Payton, Magic etc...

He was a rebounding beast who was perhaps the top rebounder of all time, who grabbed like 19 boards per game during his prime, which is a crazy achievement. When he led the NBA in this category, the second best was like way off with 13 boards.

He stands well in this debate and if you argue Dennis Rodman as the cream of the cop from this list, that's a good decision.

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year: 2 (1990,91)

-All NBA Defensive Teams: 8 (this includes 7x All-First Defense)

-Boards: 11,954 (13.1)--------------------------1676 (9.9)

-7x rebound titles (1992-98)

-4x leader in total rebounds

-3x leader in total defensive rebounds

-Ranks at No.1 in total career rebound percent

-Ranks at No.3 in career defensive rebound percent

-Ranks at No.14 in playoff defensive win share

2.Hakeem Olajuwon

The superb Hakeem Olajuwon stands in many ways as the greatest defensive player the game has seen, a true beast on that end of the floor who possessed a rare combination of incredible athleticism, speed and skills to go with nice strength.

Those attributes helped him to excel at that end of the court for sure. For his size (6'11"),his versatility was on par with many other guys, but arguably, he had the best help and off-ball defense of all time and stands so tall in this debate.

Not only that he was capable to shut down his man, he was a shot blocking machine who could just have a ton of steals, defended the pick n' roll well and even if there was a switch on the perimeter, he was so good in there too.

He made nice decisions on the court and just changed the game in another way with his total domination as a defender. No one can take that from him. He was one of the best shot blockers and by far no one ever interrupted the lanes as a big man better than No. 34.

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year: 2 (1993,94)

-All NBA Defensive Selections: 9 (those include 5x all first)

-NBA All Time leader in blocked shots

-Rebounds: 13,748 (11.1)--------------------------------------1621 (11.2)

-Blocked shots: 3,830 (3.1)---------------------------------472 (3.3)

-Ranks at No.1 in most career blocks of all time

-Ranks at No.1 in most playoff blocks per game

-Ranks at No.2 in most career blocks in total

-Ranks at No.3 in most career blocks per game

-Ranks at No.5 in career defensive win share

-Ranks at No.11 in playoff defensive win share

-Ranks at No.22 in career defensive rebound percent

-Ranks at No.27 in playoff defensive rebound percent

-Ranks at No.11 in career total rebounds

-Ranks at No.25 in career rebound average

-Ranks at No.9 in most steals, No.1 by far more then any other big men

-2x rebound titles (2x leader in total, who averaged ridiculous 16.8 boards in the playoffs)

-3x block titles (2x in total, averaged insane 4.6 blocks per game)

-5x leader in defensive rating

1.Bill Russell

A legendary center who revolutionized the concepts of defense, Bill Russell is the greatest defensive player in NBA History, who just changed the game of basketball and proved that you can be a superstar while dominating on the other end of the court.

He was one of the smartest players this game has seen who had a book on everybody and was just that beast who knew how to crush a rhythm of the man he guarded and on offense possessed incredible skills, athleticism, speed to go with high basketball IQ and instincts.

He created dozens of fast breaks for Boston, mostly from rebounding/blocks and throwing outlet passes to anyone, which is how he contributed for another two points without even taking a shot. Impressive, isn't it.

He was arguably the best shot blocker of all time because of his fantastic style. He mastered three things for earning this honor: perfect timing, not fouling the shooter, keeping possession for his team by turning the blocked shot into a rebound.

That's art and he built the fundamentals of shot blocking. He was the finest defender that knew how to beat and slow down the great Wilt Chamberlain, especially in the playoffs and finals. He stopped dozens of great big men, Hall of Famers like Pettit, Reed, Bellamy and so on.

It's a shame defensive stats like blocks and steals were not official during that time, which would have showed his total domination on defense. There are the 11 championships he won and led his Celtics to it thanks to his magic overall.

Most likely he would have been the all-time leader in blocked shots (or his rival Wilt), but it's a pity since it's done. One more thing—he and Olajuwon would often go and deny guards/forwards on the fast break like LeBron does these days.

Career Facts:

-Defensive Player Of The Year : (The award did not exist until 1982)

-All NBA Defensive Teams: 1 (All-First; the award came late in Russell's career as he was about to retire that time)

-Rebounds: 21,620 (22.5)--------------------------------------4,104 rebounds (24.9)

-Ranks No.1 in career defensive win share

-Ranks No.1 in playoff defensive win share

-Ranks No.1 in total rebounds during playoffs

-Ranks No.1 in most rebounds per game during playoffs

-Ranks No.1 in most rebounds during the Finals

-Ranks No.2 in total career boards

-Ranks No.2 in total career boards per game

By Darko Mihajlovski


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