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Best defenders in NBA history at each position

In this article, Here we pick the best defenders in NBA history by each position. Coming up at number 1, this was a no-brainer. Gary Payton who was easily the best defensive point guard in NBA history.

Last updated: 14.10.2020
Best defenders in NBA history at each position | Chase Your Sport

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Today we're going to comprise a list of defensive gods the NBA has seen in history at each position.


Point Guard - Gary Payton



Coming up at number 1, this was a no-brainer. Gary Payton was easily the best defensive point guard in NBA history. Gary was absolutely relentless on defense and just wouldn't stop pestering the player he's guarding. Payton was also one of the best trash talkers in the game and would absolutely get in the head of the opposing player, clamping him down the whole game.

Nicknamed 'The Glove' due to all the steals he was able to get, he could intercept passing lanes and was always on point on defense the whole game. Some other names to throw in are John Stockton, Oscar Robertson, Walt Frazier, Isiah Thomas and Jason Kidd.


Shooting Guard - Michael Jordan


The name Jordan might surprise you a little but if you've seen Jordan play, he was an absolute nightmare on defense. Not only could he completely shut down his matchup, he also contributed in helping his teammates on defense as well. The whole team that would be on offense had to constantly look out for Jordan at all times as to where he was on the court because he could easily strip the ball off defenders and block bigmen as well. Few other players that were excellent on defense were Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Sidney Moncrief and Joe Dumars.


Small Forward - Scottie Pippen

Now this should not come as a surprise because Scottie was a beast on defense. He could literally guard any position with his agility and wide frame. Scottie would often go up against point guards to put more pressure on the primary ball handler to create more offense for the team and has mostly succeeded in doing so.

Scottie could steal the ball, block shots, rebound well enough to create long outlet passes which in turn generated easy fastbreak offense.

Other small forwards who've been great at defense are Grant Hill, Larry Bird, James Worthy, John Havlicek and Shawn Marion.

Power Forward - Dennis Rodman


It would be unfair to put anyone else's name when it comes to the best defensive power forward in NBA history. Dennis Rodman had only one job in the floor and that was defense. Rodman was the epitome of what a defensive player should be like.

Even with Jordan being on the team, he was the team's defensive leader. He would often trap players with double teaming them and stealing the ball away. He'd keep tipping the ball to himself while going for rebounds over taller players and would just not stop till they give up. Rodman always took pride in his defense and rightfully so with all the accolades he's earned over the years.

Some other names are players like Kevin Garnett, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Kevin McHale and Chris Webber who were great on defense all the while being the primary scorer of the team at a certain point.


Center - Hakeem Olajuwon


Now this name might surprise a lot as why I'm picking Hakeem Olajuwon over such other greats in NBA history. And to be honest, when you look at the stats he's had over the years, it is phenomenal. The leader in block shots, Olajuwon's lateral quickness was a thing to see. For a 7 footer to get off the floor with such swiftness, offensive players would often get intimidated with his shot blocking ability and miss shots.

Olajuwon was his team's defensive leader. He'd either block the shot or steal the ball and then also run down the floor and finish at the rim with his post moves. For a bigman, Olajuwon had a rather quick first step which helped him chase down players and block their shots out of nowhere.

2 players who might've been better than Olajuwon on defense are Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain but due to not enough data, stats and gameplay footage, it is hard to say enough about their defense but were definitely sub-par at it.

Some other great mentions are Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Ben Wallace, David Robinson and Moses Malone.

Watch some beautiful saves by the best defenders in the NBA history

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