NBA Power Rankings: Dwight Howard and the 50 Greatest Defenders in NBA History

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: Dwight Howard and the 50 Greatest Defenders in NBA History

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    Dwight Howard recently made history by winning his third consecutive NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.

    Defense is arguably the most important part of basketball, and no one plays as well as Howard on that end of the floor.

    That got us thinking: Where does Howard rank among the greatest defenders in NBA history?  He's certainly great and would probably dominate any era, but is he the best ever?

    Please remember that in every slideshow dealing with the best of all time in any category, the gap between each player is minuscule.  

    The gap between the player at 50 and the player at one is even quite small.  

    Here are the 50 best defenders the league has ever produced...

50. Andrei Kirilenko

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Height: 6'9"

    Position: SF/PF

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 5.6 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1.4 steals per game

    For his entire career, Andrei Kirilenko's calling card has been defense.  And for two or three years, he was arguably the best defender in the league.

    At 3.3 a game, he led the league in blocks as a small forward during the 2004-05 season.  The next season he averaged 3.2 a game.

    For his career, he averages two blocks a game and is 10th among active players in career blocks.  That's not all he does, either.  He also averages 1.4 steals a game over his career.

    Even as his physical abilities have deteriorated, he still gets the toughest assignments on defense as a member of the Utah Jazz.

49. Doug Christie

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    Height: 6'6"

    Position: SG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game

    Doug Christie was the defensive stopper for the great Kings teams of the early 2000s.

    He was in the top five in the league in steals per game for seven different seasons and is 11th in NBA history in steal percentage.

    His on-ball defense frustrated players like Kobe Bryant to no end.

48. Kobe Bryant

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    Height: 6'6"

    Position: SG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game

    Most people know Kobe Bryant as the Lakers' primary option on offense over most of the last decade.  One could argue that his defensive contributions have been even more important to the team.

    He's been at least the second best, usually the best, perimeter defender on every Lakers squad since 2000.

    Kobe has been selected first-team All-Defense 10 times in his illustrious career, and he's second among active players in career assists.

47. Bill Walton

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    Height: 6'11"

    Position: C/PF

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 10.5 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 0.8 steals per game

    Due to injuries, Bill Walton doesn't have a large sample size.  When he was healthy, he was easily one of the greatest defenders in basketball history.

    In 1978, despite playing in just 58 games, Walton won the league's MVP award and made first-team All-Defense.  He had great defensive numbers that year, averaging 13.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and one steal a game.

    The season before, he posted 14.4 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and one steal a game.

46. Josh Smith

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Height: 6'9"

    Position: PF/SF

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 7.7 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 steals per game

    Josh Smith is just 25 years old, and he's already on the verge of cracking the top 50 in all-time blocks.  His career average of 2.2 a game is 16th best in NBA history.

    He also averages 1.3 steals a game for his career, and at 6'9", he can guard at least three positions.

45. Isiah Thomas

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    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Height: 6'1"

    Position: PG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game

    Isiah Thomas was one of the greatest point guards of all time, and not just for his scoring and assists.

    His career average of 1.9 steals a game ranks 16th in NBA history, and he's 14th all-time in total steals.

44. Nate McMillan

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    Ken Levine/Getty Images

    Height: 6'5"

    Position: SG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 4 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game

    Today, Nate McMillan is known as a defensive-minded head coach.  It seems like he developed his philosophy long before he put on a suit and went to the bench.

    As a player, he led the league in steals per game during the 1993-94 season and averaged nearly three per 36 minutes for his career.

    And he's third of all time in career steal percentage.

43. Gus Williams

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    Height: 6'2"

    Position: PG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 2.7 rebounds and 2 steals per game

    Gus Williams ranked in the top 10 for steals per game during seven different seasons in his career.  He's 12th of all time in career steal percentage in 10th in career steals.

    His overall game, particularly his defense, was an integral part of Seattle's 1979 NBA championship.

42. Clyde Drexler

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    Height: 6'7"

    Position: SG/SF

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 6.1 rebounds and 2 steals per game

    Like many other players on this list, great defense is something about Drexler's game that isn't discussed much these days.

    He's seventh of all time in career steals, ninth in career steals per game and 15th in career steal percentage.

    He was one of the NBA's elite perimeter defenders for years.

41. Shawn Bradley

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    Height: 7'6"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game

    Before you go off and remind me of how many times Bradley was dunked on, just take a look at his numbers.

    He averaged over three blocks a game for each of his first six NBA seasons and has a career average of 3.9 blocks per 36 minutes.  He also averaged one steal and 9.7 rebounds per 36 minutes.

    He's second of all time in career block percentage, ninth in career blocks per game and 13th in career blocks.

40. Dwyane Wade

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Height: 6'4"

    Position: SG

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1 block per game

    Dwyane Wade has made three All-Defense teams and should make his fourth this year.

    For a 6'4" guard, he's a fantastic shot-blocker, and he plays great on-ball defense as well.

39. LeBron James

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Height: 6'8"

    Position: SF/PF

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per game

    LeBron has been first-team All-Defense in each of the last two years and will likely receive that honor again this year.

    He's a fantastic all-around defender and is considered one of the best of all time at the "chase down" block (swatting someone from behind on a fast break).

    I have him slightly above his teammate Dwyane Wade because he's emerged as a leader on both ends of the floor.  He's the floor general on offense and defense.

38. Fat Lever

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    Height: 6'3"

    Position: PG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 6 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game

    Fat Lever was an integral member of the run-n'-gun Denver teams of the mid '80s, but for more than just his offense.

    He's fifth of all time in career steals per game, eighth in career steal percentage and 10th in career steals.

    He was also an elite rebounder for a 6'3" guard.  He averaged six a game for his career and nearly nine a game over four seasons from 1987 to 1990.

37. Mookie Blaylock

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    Ken Levine/Getty Images

    Height: 6'0"

    Position: PG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game

    Mookie Blaylock led the NBA in steals per game twice, and his career average of 2.3 a game ranks him fourth of all time.  He's also fifth of all time in career steal percentage.

36. Larry Bird

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    Height: 6'9"

    Position: SF/PF

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 10 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per game

    Larry Bird may not have been incredible at any one defensive skill, but he was good at all of them.  

    He was named to just three All-Defense teams, but his career averages of 10 rebounds and 1.7 steals are great for a small forward.

    He ranks in the top 50 in NBA history in career rebounds per game, steals per game and steal percentage.

35. Theo Ratliff

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    Height: 6'10"

    Position: C/PF

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 5.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game

    It's difficult to imagine now, but Theo Ratliff used to be one of the best interior defenders in the league.

    For his career, he's averaged 3.5 blocks per 36 minutes and ranks third of all time in career block percentage.

34. Micheal Ray Richardson

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    Height: 6'5"

    Position: SG/SF 

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game

    Richardson was one of the NBA's best defensive guards for years.  His career average of 2.6 steals a game ranks him second of all time, and he's fourth in NBA history in steal percentage.

33. Manute Bol

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    Height: 7'7"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game

    In terms of blocks per game, Manute Bol's rookie season was the second greatest of all time.  He averaged five a game that year (in just 26 minutes a game).

    For his career, he averaged 3.3 blocks a game and 6.4 blocks per 36 minutes.  He's second of all time in career blocks per game, 14th in career blocks and first (by a long shot) in career block percentage.

32. Shaquille O`Neal

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    Height: 7'1"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game

    At 39, he's a much different player now, but Shaquille O'Neal was one of the league's most dominant defenders over his first 12 years in the NBA as a member of the Magic and Lakers.

    He's seventh of all time in defensive rebounds and blocked shots and 14th in career blocks per game.

    During his first 13 seasons in the NBA, Shaq averaged over two blocks a game 12 times and averaged double-figures in rebounding for each of those years.

31. Jason Kidd

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    Height: 6'4"

    Position: PG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 6.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game

    Once upon a time, Jason Kidd was one of the quickest players in the NBA.  That ability helped him become one of the best defenders in league history.

    Kidd is third of all time in career steals and 12th in career steals per game.  He's been named to nine NBA All-Defense teams.

    Plus, Kidd's one of the greatest rebounding point guards of all time.  He's averaged 6.5 rebounds a game for his career and is eighth among active players in career rebounds.

30. Maurice Cheeks

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    Height: 6'1"

    Position: PG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game

    Maurice Cheeks was named first-team All-Defense four times and second team once.  

    He averaged over two steals a game during each of his first 10 years in the league, ranks fifth of all time in career steals, eighth in career steals per game and ninth in career steal percentage.

29. Julius Erving

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    Height: 6'6"

    Position: SF/SG

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 8.5 rebounds, 2 steals and 1.7 blocks per game

    Julius Erving's defensive numbers were phenomenal when he played in the ABA.  He averaged 12.1 rebounds, 2.4 steals and two blocks over 407 games in that league.

    His numbers dropped a bit in the NBA, but they were still great.  For 836 games, Erving averaged 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks.

28. John Havlicek

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    Height: 6'5"

    Position: SF/SG

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game

    Havlicek played most of his career before the league kept track of steals or blocks, but his versatility and effectiveness as an all-around defender were well known.

    He was selected to eight All-Defense teams, and his great ability on that end helped him to win eight NBA championships.

27. Magic Johnson

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    Height: 6'8"

    Position: PG

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game

    Magic Johnson is probably the greatest distributor of all time, which is why we don't talk about his defense as much as we should.

    He averaged over two steals a game during each of his first five years in the league, including a career best 3.4 a game during his second NBA season.

    He's 15th of all time in both career steals and career steals per game (1.9 over 13 seasons).

26. Patrick Ewing

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    Height: 7'0"

    Position: Center

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1 steal per game

    Ewing was one of the league's premier interior defenders for over a decade.  He averaged 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and one steal a game over his 17-year career.

    He's eighth all-time in career defensive rebounds a game, and sixth in career blocked shots.

25. Alonzo Mourning

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Height: 6'10"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game

    Alonzo Mourning led the league in blocks per game twice, and in his career had just one full season in which he averaged less than two blocks a game (his last year in the league).

    His career average of 2.8 blocks per game ranks sixth of all time.  He's also sixth of all time in career block percentage.

    He won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in back-to-back seasons in 1999 and 2000.

24. Artis Gilmore

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    Height: 7'2"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game

    Artis Gilmore may have been the greatest interior defender in the history of the ABA.  He averaged 14.8 rebounds and three blocks a game as a member of the Kentucky Colonels.

    When NBA and ABA totals are combined, Gilmore is first of all time in career defensive rebounds and fourth in blocked shots.

23. Elvin Hayes

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    Height: 6'9"

    Position: PF/C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 12.5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal per game

    Even at 6'9", Elvin Hayes is one of the best interior defenders of all time.  

    His career averages of 12.5 rebounds, two blocks and one steal a game are great and the league didn't keep track of blocks and steals during Hayes' first five years.

    He's fourth of all time in total rebounds and led the league in that category twice, including the 1973-74 season when he hauled in 18.1 boards a game.

22. John Stockton

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Height: 6'1"

    Position: PG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game

    John Stockton led the NBA in steals twice and averaged at least two a game for 10 out of 11 seasons in the middle of his career.  And in 19 years in the league, his lowest steal output for a season was 1.3 a game.

    He was named to five All-Defense teams, ranks first of all time in career steals, sixth in career steals per game and sixth in career steal percentage.

21. Kevin Garnett

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Height: 6'11"

    Position: PF/C

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 10.7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game

    Like several other players on the list, Garnett's defense was about a lot more than just numbers.

    That's not to say his numbers aren't good—he ranks 16th of all time in total rebounds, 19th in career blocks and 26th in career steals.

    He's been named to 10 All-Defense teams and won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2008.

    His leadership on that end of the floor was an integral component of Boston's championship formula that year. 

20. Gary Payton

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    Height: 6'4"

    Position: PG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game

    Gary Payton's nickname came about as a result of his great defense.  He was known as "The Glove" because of his lockdown perimeter defense.

    He led the league in steals per game during the 1995-96 season and won Defensive Player of the Year for his efforts.

    He averaged at least 2.2 steals a game for seven consecutive years and was named to nine All-Defense teams.

    He is fourth of all time in career steals.

19. Sidney Moncrief

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    Height: 6'3"

    Position: SG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game

    Like modern day defensive specialists like Bruce Bowen or Tony Allen, a lot of what Moncrief did defensively didn't show up in the box score.

    However, his great perimeter defense earned him him Defensive Player of the Year twice.  He was also named to five All-Defense teams. 

18. Michael Cooper

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Height: 6'5"

    Position: SG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game

    Cooper doesn't have anywhere near the kind of numbers that most of the guys on this list have, but great defense often doesn't show up in the box score.

    His fantastic perimeter defense was a very important part of five NBA Championship teams in Los Angeles.

    He won Defensive Player of the Year for his efforts in the 1986-87 season and was named to eight All-Defense teams.

17. Mark Eaton

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    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    Height: 7'4"

    Position:C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game

    Mark Eaton is arguably the greatest shot blocker in NBA history.

    His career average of 3.5 blocks a game ranks first of all time.  He's also fourth in NBA history in total blocks and fifth in block percentage.

    He led the league in blocks per game four times (four of the top 15 seasons for blocks of all time).  His 5.6 a game during the 1984-85 season has never been equaled. 

    He was the Defensive Player of the Year twice and was named to five All-Defense teams.

    At 7'4", Eaton was one of the most intimidating players to ever occupy the paint for an NBA team.

16. Ron Artest

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Height: 6'7"

    Position: SF/PF

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game

    Artest has been one of the very best perimeter defenders in the NBA for about the last decade.

    Among active players, he's first in career steal percentage and second in career steals per game.

    He's been named to four All-Defense teams and won the Defensive Player of the Year Award for the 2003-04 season. 

15. Marcus Camby

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Height: 6'11"

    Position: C/PF

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 10 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1 steal per game

    Camby continues to defy his own age, as he remains one of the league's best interior defenders even at 37 years old.

    He led the league in blocks per game four times and has a career average of 2.5 for that category.  He's also a fantastic rebounder at 10 a game for his career.

    And for a big, his steal numbers are impressive as well (one per game for his career).

    He won the Defensive Player of the Year Award for the 2006-07 season and has been named to four All-Defense teams.

    He's all-time top 12 in career blocks, blocks per game, rebounding percentage and shot blocking percentage.

14. Scottie Pippen

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    Height: 6'8"

    Position: SF

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 6.4 rebounds, 2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game

    Because he spent much of his career with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen may be one of the most underrated players of all time.

    He averaged two steals and just under one block per game over the course of his career and made 10 All-Defense teams.  He's sixth of all time in career steals and 11th of all time in career steals per game.

    His defense was instrumental in Chicago's six NBA Championships.

13. Dwight Howard

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Height: 6'11"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 12.9 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1 steal per game

    At just 25 years old, Dwight Howard has already become the first player to ever win Defensive Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons.

    He's played seven seasons in the NBA, and he's led the league in rebounding three times and in blocks twice.

    For his career, he averages 12.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.

    In an era packed with high-flying stars who play above the rim, Dwight Howard still finds a way to control the paint for significant portions of every game he plays.

12. Alvin Robertson

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    Height: 6'3"

    Position: SG

    Defensive Role: Perimeter

    Career Stats: 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game

    Robertson's defensive prowess on the perimeter was unquestioned for years, and he has the numbers to back that up.

    His career average of 2.7 steals per game ranks him first of all time in that category.  He's also first of all time in steal percentage.

    He led the league in steals three times, and no one in NBA history has ever averaged more in a single season than Robertson did during the 1985-86 season (3.7 a game).

    He was the Defensive Player of the Year that season and made six All-Defense teams during his career.

11. Ben Wallace

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    Height: 6'9"

    Position: C/PF

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1.3 steals per game

    Wallace won the Defensive Player of the Year Award four times between 2002 and 2006.  He made six All-Defense teams as a member of the Pistons and the Bulls.

    He led the league in rebounding twice and in blocked shots once.  He's 19th of all time in career block percentage and eighth in career rebounding percentage.  

10. Wilt Chamberlain

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    Height: 7'1"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 22.9 rebounds per game

    They didn't keep track of blocks or steals during Chamberlain's career, but it's well known that his dominance was didn't just apply to offense.

    One defensive stat that they did keep track of was rebounds, and Chamberlain led the league in that category for 11 seasons.  He averaged 22.9 boards a game for his career.

    He certainly wouldn't be as dominant in today's NBA, but he'd make things difficult for the players who like to attack the rim.

9. Dikembe Mutombo

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    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    Height: 7'2"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: C

    Career Stats: 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game

    Mutombo's trademark finger wag happened well over 3,000 times (assuming he did it after every block, which wouldn't surprise me).

    He led the league in blocks per game for three straight years from 1994 to 1996, and he led the league in rebounds in back-to-back seasons in 2000 and 2001.

    He won Defensive Player of the Year four times, and was named to six All-Defense teams.

    He's second of all time in career blocks and seventh in career blocks per game.

8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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    Height: 7'2"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 0.9 steals per game

    The NBA didn't count blocked shots for Kareem's first four years in the league, but he still led the league in the category four times.

    He also averaged double-figures in rebounding in each of his first 12 seasons.

    He was named to 11 All-Defense teams, ranks third of all time in career blocks and total rebounds.  He's also eighth of all time in career blocks per game.

7. Nate Thurmond

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    Height: 6'11"

    Position: C/PF

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 15 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game

    It's unfortunate that the NBA didn't keep track of blocks until the 1973-74 season, because players like Nate Thurmond may have had some incredible numbers.

    They did count rebounds for his entire career, and his average of 15 a game is fifth best of all time.

    He was named to five All-Defense teams.

6. Tim Duncan

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Height: 6'11"

    Position: PF/C

    Defensive Role: Interior

    Career Stats: 11.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game

    Tim Duncan is the ultimate model of consistency.  He averaged at least two blocks and 10.6 rebounds per game in each of his first 10 years in the league.

    He's been named to 13 All-Defense teams and his skills on that end of the floor have helped him win four NBA Championships.

    He's 21st of all time in career rebounds and ninth of all time in career blocks.

5. David Robinson

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Height: 7'1"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 10.6 rebounds, 3 blocks and 1.4 steals per game

    David Robinson averaged at least 3.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per game in each of his first seven seasons in the NBA.

    He won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1992 and made eight All-Defense teams.

    He's fifth of all time in career blocks and fourth in career blocks per game.

4. Dennis Rodman

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Height: 6'7"

    Position: PF

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 13.1 rebounds per game

    Rebounding is a huge part of defense, and Dennis Rodman is without a doubt the greatest rebounder of all-time.

    His career rebounding percentage of 23.4 ranks first of all time.  He led the league in that category for seven straight seasons from 1992 to 1998.

    He won the Defensive Player of the Year Award twice before that streak even began, and he was named to an All-Defense team in eight out of the 14 seasons he was in the league. 

3. Michael Jordan

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    Height: 6'6"

    Position: SG

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 0.8 blocks per game

    You can't be the greatest player of all time without being a great defender.  Michael Jordan was undoubtedly both of those things.

    He led the league in steals per game three times, and his career average of 2.3 ranks third of all time in that category.  He's second of all time in total steals.

    He was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1988 and made nine All-Defense teams.

2. Hakeem Olajuwon

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Height: 7'0"

    Position: C

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per game

    Olajuwon averaged at least two blocks a game in each of his first 15 years in the league and topped four a game during three of those years.

    He also averaged double-figures in rebounding in each of his first 12 years in the league.

    And on top of all that, he also averaged 1.7 steals per game for his career.

    He was named Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons in 1993 and 1994 and was named to nine All-Defense teams.

    He ranks eighth of all time in career steals, first in career blocks, 11th in career rebounds, 23rd in career steals per game and third in career blocks per game.  

1. Bill Russell

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    Height: 6'9"

    Position: C/PF

    Defensive Role: All-Around

    Career Stats: 22.5 rebounds per game

    Unfortunately, Bill Russell played in an era in which steals and blocks were not counted.  If they had kept track of those stats, Russell's numbers would be even more staggering than they already are.

    He averaged 22.5 rebounds per game over his career and led the league in that category five times.

    He's first of all time in Defensive Win Shares and his defense was arguably the single most important aspect of a Boston Celtics team that won 11 NBA Championships while he played for them. 

Who Would You Add?

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    As with any list of this nature, there are bound to be some omissions that others would not make.

    Who would be in your top 50 defenders of all-time and didn't make this list?