Whenever we think about the best defensive players in NBA history, it’s almost always big men. More often than not, the praise goes to players who rack up a lot of blocks. It’s quite unfair to the guards who play on-ball defense one possession after another. That’s why we thought it was only fair to give those players their due. Thus, we’ve created a list of the best defensive guards in NBA history.
It’s crazy how we forget how intensely Bryant got after it on the defensive end. He could shut down the other team’s best scorer just as easily as he could drop 40 points in a game.
He made the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times and made either the First Team or Second Team in 12 straight seasons during the prime of his career. Bryant also finished his spectacular career with 1.4 steals and half a block per game.
Not only is he the NBA’s all-time leader in assists but Stockton is also the all-time leader in steals. Jason Kidd, who’s second on the list, isn’t even close. We don’t often think of Stockton as a great defensive player because he was so brilliant playing with Karl Malone for all of those years.
But he was quick and smart, allowing him to steal the ball from unsuspecting point guards. His consistency led him to be overlooked a little, although Stockton led the league in steals twice.
Deep into his career, Paul is still getting it done on both ends of the court. He’s led the league in steals more times than he’s led it in assists. It’s unlikely that he’ll catch Stockton, but Paul will likely finish his career among the all-time leaders in steals.
He’s been named NBA All-Defensive First Team selection seven times and is averaging two steals per game for his career.
It’s not just the game-winning shots and six wrings that make Jordan the best player of all time. Those who remember seeing him in his prime will remember that he was also an elite defensive player.
He was on the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times, including after his hiatus, and won Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1988. Jordan led the NBA in steals three times, averaging 2.3 per game for his career while also racking up the second-most blocks by a guard in league history.
Come on, they don’t call you “The Glove” for nothing. Payton knew how to smother opposing point guards, completely taking them off their game. He remains the only point guard in NBA history to win Defensive Player of the Year. Payton was also on the NBA All-Defensive First Team in nine consecutive years.
Oddly enough, he only led the NBA in steals once and averaged a modest 1.8 per game for his career. However, Payton still ranks among the top-five players on the all-time steals list and is widely considered the best defensive guard in NBA history.