Nowadays, when people talk about great players, they tend to focus much more on the offensive sides of players' games. This whole time I was astonished at how little defenders were given their rightful credit.
I decided to put together my top 10 defensive players of all time; these are the players that put their heart out on the defensive side of the court, and blocked, stole, and played man on man defense with tremendous effort and skill.
Hopefully these people will remind some fans out their of what greatness can also be.
Even though I put Wallace at the very bottom of the top ten list, this pick here still stirs up some controversy. Most people on this list that are higher up are on the list of all time best blocks, steals, rebounds and other stuff. Wallace isn't.
Well, he actually is in the top 25 for most blocks per game in a career.
But what really stood out from Wallace to me, was, during those five years with the Pistons, no one came close to being a better defender than thee. I was shocked when I remembered that, in those five year span, he had won the DPOY four times! During this great period, he lead or came close to leading the league in blocks and boards.
I thought this was more that enough reason that he should be in this list.
Stockton wasn't a great on ball defender, rebounder, and certainly not a shot blocker. Actually, the only reason Stockton is even close to being on this list, is because of his knack for stealing. In the all time most steals lists, Stockton obliterates all other competition. (Michael Jordan is in second, with 700 less than Stockton.)
Even though this is about to defense, Stockton's great hustle on defense resulted in his great passing on the other side of the court.
When you think about Wilt, you think about dominant scoring. You think about 100 points. What you probably don't think about is defense. Yet, Wilt was also a very, very good defender. In rebounding, which is a huge factor in defense, Wilt blows away competition as he is the all time best rebounder.
Obviously, they didn't write down blocks back in that day, but, according to some other players, Wilt racked up a huge number of swats each game. The NBA also weren't giving out DPOY, and Wilt could of possibly gotten some.
Determination. Intensity. Endurance. Surpassing Expectations. A skilled Monster. Those are all words that fulfill and describe Alonzo Mourning. A skilled Monster: that is in reference to how amazing and scary Mourning was on the defensive end.
When this guy stepped onto the court, you know there was one unlucky player on the other team that would get completely stopped and shut down. (With a few blocks along the way.)
Mourning's most memorable thing, was his kidney transplant and how he made a miraculous comeback to the Heat. Even though he missed numerous games because of his disease, Mourning is still placed in history as the tenth most blocks of all time. And in blocks per game, Mourning stands fourth in history with a 2.8 average.
Mourning will always be remembered for what he did, and hopefully from what he prevented on the defensive side of the court.
Similar to Wilts case, Kareem is the all time leading NBA scorer, so he is naturally forgotten a lot for what he did on the other side of the court. Kareem dominated the league for a bit in rebounds, and although he does not appear muscular or bulky, could play physically as good as any one else, and could and would block shots off of any other center in the league. He's third all time in blocks and rebounds.
Jordan wasn't the greatest defender of his era. I actually hesitated a lot in putting Jordan this high on the list. But, as good as he was on offense, Micheal refused to lose but even more so, took it as a punishment when his opponent would score. He would hustle and sprint on defense, and would sometimes miraculously appear on a fast break for a opposing lay up and block the shot. In a way, Jordan started the era of great defending guards for years to come.
Olajuwon retired his jersey with the rockets, and also retired as the all-time NBA leading blocker. Mutombo is number 2 on the all time list, and he is a great blocker, yet he's 700 blocks behind Olajuwon for first place. I decided in putting Hakeem here, but I had to think a lot for not going higher.
I hesitated even more about Hakeem when I realized that this guy, this big man, ranks eight all time in most steals.
Not only is that great period, it's amazing for a big man. Only one other center ever has been put in the top 25 all time for steals. That seems like enough, but were not done. Hakeem is also 11th all time for rebounds.
The only reason I put Hakeem here is, because, according to stats on WIF Sports, Hakeem tended to allow a huge amount of points from other centers. Other than that he was formidable, though.
No ones game has been more known for blocking than Mutombo's. He was tall, giant wing-span, huge vertical leap for someone of his height, and his signature finger waving move are the icon for shot blockers today.
As already mentioned, Dikembe ranks second all time in blocked shots. He also has the most DPOY awards with four, only tied with Ben Wallace.
He was also a monster at the boards, leading the league in most boards four times, and most boards on the defensive side of the court twice. In his shot blocking, rebounding career, Mutombo has also been the leagues best shot blocker FIVE times.
He's actually probably not the second best defender of all time, but when you think of defenders you think of big men. And when theirs a little guy that great at defense, he more than needs to be mentioned.
Unlike the rest on this list, Payton didn't make his career off blocks and racking down boards. When your nickname is "the glove" because you annoy and circle around other guards as if they were the baseball in your glove, their must be something special about the way you play defense.
Now good guard defenders are known for catching the opponents bad pass, or getting your hand on the ball for a steal.
And, yes Payton did that with tremendous skill yet he was more feared from another guard as an on ball lock-down defender. Didn't matter about his opponents height, Payton would find a way to shut him down and get the theft. He's third all time in steals, and has been selected to the Defensive team 1 a record nine times. (Only else achieved by MJ.)
The only PG ever to bring home the DPOY award.
One of the few players of his era, and the best at it, in stopping the "indestructible" Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt would explode for 50 on any given night...well, as long as he wasn't head to head with Russell.
Russell now has 11 rings, almost all championships lead by him. The most hated opponent if you were going to the rim, Russell would swat shots like you would swat bugs. It really stinks that their were no people counting blocked shots when Russell played, because unlucky opposing teammates would testify that he could block more than a dozen on some nights.
What we did mark down as stats, though, were his boards; which Russell brought down amazingly. At the end of his career, Russell wounded up having a rebounding average per game of 22.5. More than 11 more per game than the next-next person on the list. (Only Wilt could testify that he was close to Russel. Thus ends the slide show, starting and ending with huge defensive factors...