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Not In My House! The Greatest Interior Defenders In NBA History

Darko MihajlovskiCorrespondent IIIJanuary 5, 2017

Not In My House! The Greatest Interior Defenders In NBA History

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

    They say defense wins championships and they are right.No matter how good potent offense you have,you can't win titles,playoff series,games without solid team defense in which usually the centers and power forwards do it best

    In the past 20 years,all of the franchises that added the Larry O'Brien Trophy had outstanding protection of the rim from players who are more than solid in that part of the game.Here are some notable names such as Tim Duncan,Kevin Garnett,Ben Wallace,Alonzo Mourning etc

    Even in the past,teams had their own front courts of defensive walls who would do everything in their power to stop you from scoring the 2 points like for example,the Knicks championship rosters from the 70's and so on

    Playing defense in the paint is easier to say than done.It's not all about guarding your man but it's also about helping out your team mate,blocking and effecting shots,grabbing the defensive rebounds by boxing out well etc.

    So,basically the team that in these days can find some guy that can do all of this,has actually chance for winning it all.Based on this,there are 3 types of defensive presence who rule in the paint and they do it with their physicality,intelligence and mastering of the fundamentals.

    Defenders that are physical presence,are challenging every shot/lay up/dunk attempt at the rim with getting straight in your face and clean the glass with little aggression,with the will to prove you and let you know you aren't getting the easy 2

    There are guys who rely on their incredible high IQ and are able to block your shot attempt at the rim by almost getting out of no where when you think you have the easy 2.Those are smart defenders who know when to go at you

    Then there are the guys who play brilliant defense by mastering and understanding the fundamentals of defense,swat shots etc.These players in generally when they deny a shot,they keep their team in possesion

    Here are the greatest post defenders in the NBA History

10. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

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    Greatest post defense asset: Intelligence.

    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

     

    Stats (Regular Season/Playoffs)

    3,189 blocks (2.6)—476 blocks (2.4)

    9,394 d.rebounds (7.6)—1273 d.rebounds (5.4)

9.Bill Walton

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    Greatest post defense asset: Master of fundamentals.

    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!

     

    Stats (Regular Season/Playoffs)

    1,034 blocks (2.2)—83 blocks (1.7)

    3,820 defensive rebounds (8.2)—349 defensive rebounds (7.1)

     


8. Kevin Garnett

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    Greatest post defense assest:Physicallity

    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!

     

    Stats (Regular season/Playoffs)

    -1790 blocked shots (1.6)-------------------------------------------------137 blocked shots (1.5)

    -9326 defensive rebounds (8.3)-----------------------------------------832 defensive rebounds (8.6)

7. Artis Gilmore

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    Greatest post defense asset: Physicality. 

    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!

     

    Stats (Regular Season/Playoffs)

    3,178 blocks (2.4)—168 blocks (2.2)

    11,514 defensive rebounds (8.7)—808 defensive rebounds (8.1)

6. Nate Thurmond

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    Greatest post defense asset: Physicality. 

    One of the most overlooked big men, the athletic 6'11" Thurmond wasn't called "Nate the Great" for nothing. He intimidated players of the caliber of Wilt, Kareem, and Pettit with his effort on defense.

    He was one of the greatest shot blockers of all time, whose blocked shots often ended 15-20 feet out of the rim.

    Some say that in his prime he could have blocked more shots than Hakeem Olajuwon, who's the official all-time leader.

    Statistics such as defensive rebounds and blocks weren't official for most of his remarkable career.

     

    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

5. Wilt Chamberlain

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    Greatest post defense asset: Physicality. 

    Welcome to the top five.

    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 terrific at defensively, and had those skills from his prime to the end of his career

    His strength and athleticism translated into many boards. That's why he was called "Mr. Chairman of Boards," as he led the NBA 11 times in rebounding.

    He may well be in the best 10 defensive players of all time. Once he put defense as his priority, his defensive presence was the most important key to that 33-game winning streak with LA in 1972.

    Stats like defensive boards and blocked shots came after he retired. Had those been in his entire career, he would have probably been ranked on the near top of those categories in his pro career. Believe me when I say that. Same goes for other awards like DPOY, etc..

    The only strong knock on Wilt was the fact that once he got four fouls, his effort at the defensive end of the court tapered.

     

    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


    Stats (Regular Season/Playoffs)

    23,924 rebounds (22.9)—3,913 rebounds (24.5)

4. Dikembe Mutombo

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    Greatest post defense asset: Physicality. 

    His fantastic awareness, and the ability to challenge anything going at the rim and clean the glass made him one of the top post stoppers in the history of the NBA.

    Mutombo's defensive presence in the paint, especially in Denver and Atlanta, proved to be one of the main strengths of their winning records. During the Nuggets' upset of the top-seeded SuperSonics, he blocked 31 shots, which is a record for a playoff series.

     

    Notable Career Facts and Stats

    Defensive Player of the Year Award: Four (NBA Record)

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

    Three Block Titles

    His career blocked shots total of 3,289 is ranked No. 2 all time

    His career block average 2.8 is ranked No. 7 all time

    His career defensive rebound total of 8551 is ranked No. 9 all time

    His career block percent 6.3 is ranked No. 8 all time

    His career defensive rebound percent 26.2 is ranked No. 8 all time

    His career defensive win share rating 68.5 is ranked No. 15 all time

    His playoff total of 251 blocked shots is ranked No. 10 in playoff history!

    His playoff average of 2.5 blocked shots per game is ranked No. 7 in playoff history!

    His playoff block percent 6.14 is ranked No. 3 in playoff history!

    Has led the league five times in total blocked shots (most times ever for any NBA player)

    He has led the league two times in total defensive rebounds too

     

    Stats (Regular Season/Playoffs)

    3,289 blocked shots (2.8)—251 blocked shots (2.5)

    8,551 defensive rebounds (7.1)—666 defensive rebounds (6.6)

3. Tim Duncan

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    Greatest post defense asset: Master of fundamentals. 

    Known for his quiet and very efficient style that's viewed as "boring" by the young fans.

    He mastered the fundamentals of the game, which made him a terrific defender who stops his opponents on the ground. He's not a high jumper but that's when that high basketball IQ, good position, and body add nicely.

    That's how he stops layup/dunk attempts from anyone in the game.

    He raises his defense to a whole new level in the playoffs and Finals, where his defense is the key to the Spurs' titles.

    Duncan is an underrated shot blocker. In terms of style, how he manages to beat other players at the rim thanks to his excellent sense, timing, and intelligence, then swat the shots to his teammates, is only second to Bill Russell.

    That's why Timmy is one of the finest shot swatters of all time whose overall interior defense has been a strong reason for the Spurs' domination in the past 10 years.

    There are many awards that can prove this, but his biggest knock is that he still hasn't won a Defensive Player of the Year, which is a real shame.

     

    Notable Career Facts and Stats

    Defensive Player of the Year: Zero

    All-NBA Defensive Selections: 13 (Eight All-First Defensive/Five All-Second Defensive Teams)

    His career total of 8,322 defensive rebounds is ranked No. 12 all time

    His playoff total of 1,532 defensive rebounds is ranked No. 3 all time

    His career total of 2,235 blocks is ranked No. 13 all time

    His career average of 2.29 blocks per game is ranked No. 17 all time

    His career total of 438 blocks is ranked No. 4 all time

    His career defensive win share rating of 81.70 is ranked at No. 7 all time

    His playoff defensive win share rating of 13.03 is ranked No. 5 all time

    His career defensive rating 94.92 is ranked No. 2 all time

    His playoff defensive rating 97.98 is ranked No. 14 all time

    His playoff average of 2.58 blocks per game is ranked No. 5 all time

    He has led the league once in total defensive boards with 774 in 2001

     

    Stats (Regular Season/Playoffs)

    8,322 defensive rebounds (8.5)—1,532 defensive rebounds (9.01)

    2,235 blocked shots (2.3)—438 blocked shots (2.6)

2. Hakeem Olajuwon

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    Greatest post defense asset: Master of fundamentals. 

    A force in the middle for 18 years.

    Even though he started playing basketball at 15, he used to be a goalie, so he started learning how to defend well there.

    Olajuwon understood the basics of defense very well and in order to control the paint, he took advantage of his amazing combination of speed, strength, and high basketball IQ. Those things put him in good position for the G.D.O.A.T (Greatest Defender of All Time).

    He didn't have problems on the picks and was able to stay with smaller players, which is rare for a big man. He has a famous block on a Jordan three-point attempt, and like Duncan, learned from Russell to block the shot to his own teammates. He also ran down point guards on the fast break like LeBron does these days.

    He was awesome at steals because of his quickness. He's the only player to have recorded 200-plus blocks and steals in a season who was also a prolific rebounder.

    Basically, he's almost everything you want from a defensive center!

     

    Notable Career Facts and Stats

    Defensive Player of the Year: Two

    All-NBA Defensive Selections: Nine (Five All-First Defensive/Four All-Second Defensive Teams)

    He's the only center ever to record at least 200 blocks and 100 steals in a single season, a feat he did 11 seasons in a row!

    He's the only player ever to rank top 10 in rebounding, blocks, points, and steals!

    He's the all-time leader in total blocked shots in his career with 3,830 (though stat was only officially recorded after 1973)

    His career average of 3.1 blocks per game is ranked at No. 3 all time

    His career total of 2,162 steals is ranked No. 9 all time, and far past any big men ever!

    His career average of 1.7 steals is ranked No. 6 all time, also the finest for any center

    His career total of 9,714 defensive rebounds is ranked No. 5 (3) on the all-time (NBA) list!

    His playoff total of 1,150 defensive rebounds is ranked No. 7 all time

    His playoff total of 472 blocks is second-best all time (behind Kareem by only four blocks!)

    His career defensive win share rating of 94.47 is third-best all time (behind Wilt by barely 0.02)

    His playoff defensive win share rating of 10.72 is ranked at No. 10 all time

    His playoff average of 3.26 blocks per game is the best of all time!

    He has led the league twice in total defensive rebounds

    He has led the league twice in total blocks and has three block titles

     

    Stats (Regular Season/Playoffs)

    9,714 (7.8) defensive rebounds—1,150 defensive rebounds (7.9)

    3,830 (3.1) blocks—472 blocks (3.3)

    2,162 (1.7) steals—245 steals (1.7)

1. Bill Russell

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    Greatest post defense asset: Master of fundamentals. 

    A guy that revolutionized defense in the league, Bill Russell is the greatest defender in the history of the NBA!

    He built the fundamentals of the blocked shot and post defense for everyone else who came after him.

    He's regarded as the game's top shot blocker of all time because of his style. He had almost perfect timing, didn't foul the opponent, and blocked the shots to his teammates.

    He was also an outstanding man-to-man defender in the paint who could cover his man, while helping. He had a book on everyone.

    He is known for his mind games where he broke the confidence of other teams, forcing their go-to guy to chuck shots.

    This is why Russell's intensity simply changed the game, the key for 11 titles in 13 years!

    Statistics like defensive rebounds, blocked shots, steals, block titles, and the Defensive Player of the Year award were not official in his time, which is a real shame. In honor of this all-time great, the Finals MVP is now called the Bill Russell Finals MVP Award.

     

    Notable Career Stats and Facts

    Defensive Player of the Year: Zero

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

    His career total of 21,620 rebounds is ranked No. 2 all time

    His career average of 22.5 rebounds per game is ranked No. 2 all time

    His playoff total of 4,104 rebounds is the best all time

    His playoff average of 24.9 rebounds per game is the best of all time!

    His career defensive win share rating of 133.64 is the best of all time as well!

    His playoff defensive win share rating of 21.8 is the best of all time!

    Rebound Titles: Five

    Four-time leader in total rebounds

    All-time leader in rebounding (both total and average) in the Finals where he also holds the record with 40 in a game (he did that twice)

     

    Stats (Regular Season/Playoffs)

    21,620 (22.5) rebounds—4,104 rebounds (24.9)

In The Conversation Of The Top 10

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    In the conversation of the Top 10,here are some other notable names that you feel that are missing on the list such as (Note:Rodman is out of this list,he will be featured in another article about defense!)

    -David Robinson:The Admiral is one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game whose finest assest are his physical gifts like incredible athletic body,long arms and ability to go really high who posted great numbers through the course of his career (3 blocks per game,,made impact that was awarded with multiple defensive team (8) and a Defensive Player Of The Year award.

    -Alonzo Mourning

    -Marcus Camby

    -Ben Wallace

    -Shaquille O'Neal

    -Willis Reed

    -Dave Cowens


The Future Great Interior Defenders

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    The future great interior defenders who are on the pace and have chances to join this list are Dwight Howard and Greg Oden.

    Feel free to comment!

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