The best defensive players in NBA history

It’s regularly the players who sink points that get the credit but they can’t do what they do without the solid foundation of top drawer defenses behind them. 

Here we look at the best defensive players in NBA history.

Number 5. Dikembe Mutombo

We don’t think 1991’s first round draft pick gets nearly enough credit for his defensive qualities. The Georgetown graduate never did manage to scoop the NBA Championship but don’t let that fool you. Dikembe Mutombo was a class act. 

He led the league blocks on three occasions, rebounds twice and was named defensive player of the year on four different occasions earning the award with three different sides; in fact, the first three of those wins made him the first player to achieve such a feat

If that’s not enough to convince you then perhaps the fact that he racked up more blocks (3,289) than all but one player in the history of the NBA and you might change your mind. 

Number 4. Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman certainly got around the NBA with his journeyman style career – albeit he spent plenty of time away from the NBA too. Still, a quick glance over his record will leave you in little doubt as to just how good the Pistons 1986 round two pick was. 

His trophy cabinet shines bright with five NBA titles split between Detroit (2) and Chicago (3) but he earned his fair share of individual honours too in the shape of seven defensive first team acknowledgements and two defensive players of the year awards. Finally, he can boast the fact he led the league in rebounds for seven consecutive years. That’s a crazy achievement.

Number 3. Scottie Pippen

It’s hard to grab the headlines when you’re playing alongside the Greatest of All Time in Michael Jordan but Pippen’s influence on the Bulls team of the nineties should not be underrated. Throughout his career Pippen averaged 4.6 defensive rebounds per game along with 2.0 steals, which peaked at 2.9 in the 1994/95 campaign when he led the league. 

Throw into the mix the fact he made the defensive first team eight years on the spin between 1992 and 1999 together with his six NBA Championships and you cannot argue with his place on this list.

Number 2. Bill Russell

Most people will default the use of statistics when it comes to assessing the impact a player had on a game. Where Bill Russell is concerned, that isn’t an option. Why? Well, because the key defensive measures weren’t recorded back when he starred in the NBA during the sixties and seventies. 

Make no mistake about it though, the five time MVP is up there with the best defensive players of all time. He led the league in rebounds on four occasions, was an absolute boss of one-on-one defensive situations and, to cap it all off, won more Championships (11) than anyone else.

Number 1. Hakeem Olajuwon

At number one in our list of the best defensive players in NBA history is Harlem Olajuwon. Throughout his career ‘the Dream’ recorded the most blocks of all time with his haul of 3,830 streets ahead of the competition whilst he ranks in the all-time top 10 for steals and 14th for rebounds too. 

It’s really little surprise he led the league on two of those stats – three times in blocks and twice for rebounds. A look at five defensive first team appearances, 12 all-star nods, one MVP award, two NBA Championships and the fact he was named finals MVP in both those years and its pretty much case closed for the Rockets legend.

There you have it the best defensive players in NBA history. TwinSpires Edge believes Bill Russell should be placed above Hakeem, but we disagree. Check out their full list here:

What do you think? Who deserves to be number 1 in the best defensive players in NBA history ever? Let us know in the comments below.

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