The Top 4 Players in NBA History Who were Better Defenders Than Draymond Green

NBA | March 30, 2021

Warriors' Draymond Green (23) reacts near Thunder's Russell Westbrook (0) in a game at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Jan. 18.

Draymond Green made headlines as he deemed himself the “best defender to ever play in the NBA.” It is very hard to quantify a single player’s defensive performance. Although Basketball-Reference ranks him fourth in NBA history in defensive box plus-minus, can the six-foot-six-inch, 230-pound Green be the best defender in NBA history? Here are the four NBA defenders who were better than the 31-year-old Golden State Warrior:

4. Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen with his hands up in celebration

Scottie Pippen is well known as the best perimeter defender in NBA history, and he was the Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman for the six-time champion Chicago Bulls. The Central Arkansas product made eight All-Defensive First Teams, while Green has made just three such First Teams.

While Pippen never won an NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, he made a tremendous impact on the Bulls and is a Basketball Hall of Famer. Pippen led the NBA in steals in the 1994-95 season and has the sixth-most steals in history. The seven-time all-star was always a defensive stalwart, and for these reasons, he ranks No. 4 on this list.

3. Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo

Yahoo Sports

Next up on the list of best defenders is four-time Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo. He and Ben Wallace have the most such trophies in NBA history. Mutombo, the fourth overall selection in the 1991 draft, was an eight-time all-star and made six NBA All-Defensive Teams, three of which were First Teams.

Mutombo led the NBA in total blocks five times and total rebounds four times. His defensive win shares rank 17th in NBA history and his defensive rating ranks 22nd. Mutombo’s jersey was retired by both the Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets. Also, who can forget the finger wag? Mutombo was one of the best of all-time.

2. Hakeem Olajuwon

As we enter the top two, we have the heavy hitters. Hakeem “the Dream” Olajuwon has a seemingly limitless number of accolades to his name. The nine-time All-Defensive Team selection made 12 All-Star Games and was the 1993-94 NBA Most Valuable Player in addition to being a two-time Defensive Player of the Year Award winner. Not only was Olajuwon a strong individual player, but he was also a two-time champion and NBA Finals MVP.

Olajuwon’s 3,830 blocks are the most in league history, and he led the NBA in defensive rating in five different seasons. The Rockets retired his No. 34 to the rafters after his tremendous career. The Hall of Fame seven-footer, who was selected first overall in the 1984 draft, lived up to his selection and played even beyond expectations.

1. Bill Russell

Is there anyone that can be better than Bill Russell? Draymond Green may have had a slight oversight when he thought he was a better defender than the 11-time NBA champion, 12-time all-star, and five-time MVP. Russell led the NBA in defensive win shares in 11 different seasons, and his defensive rating is by far the best in NBA history.

Russell also led the NBA in rebounds per game five times. Russell’s 21,620 rebounds and 22.5 rebounds per game were ranked second all-time. If the Defensive Player of the Year Award (founded 1982-93) had been created earlier, Russell would be the all-time leader in these trophies. There is a reason why the NBA renamed the NBA Finals MVP trophy the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.

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Adam Lowenstein

Adam Lowenstein is a freelance sports journalist. He is also a dental resident at Tufts University. While completing his degrees, Adam wrote for numerous websites, covering various professional sports. Adam is a native of Massachusetts, and he attended Washington University in St. Louis when the St. Louis Rams were actually a thing. Adam recently completed his master's degree. In sports, Adam has spent the last couple of years covering the NBA, specifically the Boston Celtics.

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