If you ask me, I’d rather have 2 or 3 great hustlers and defenders than 2 or 3 average scorers in today’s NBA, as there’s simply no way of winning a Championship without a great team defense, regardless of what it may seem nowadays.
The NBA features great offensive talents in bunches, but just a handful of guys that are capable of locking down those kinds of superstars on a nightly basis, and those are the kind of players every coach just craves to have on their ranks.
And more often than not, just a few ballers get credited for their outstanding defense, being constant frontrunners to win the Defensive Player of the Year award and leaving other guys quite snubbed of the possibility of taking home this accolade.
Some players don’t ever get the chance to win the DPOY award because they get way more credit for their offense or because their stats aren’t as flashy, and today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 great defenders never to win the award.
10. Tony Allen
Tony Allen has never hesitated to make his case for the All-Defensive squad, even shouting it every now and then after a highlight defensive play. Allen is one of the peskiest backcourt defenders this game has ever seen, has extremely quick hands and is just deadly attacking passing lanes, making 5 All-Defensive squads and averaging 1.4 steals per game with 26.4 Defensive Win Shares over his career.
9. Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade might as well be the best shot-blocking shooting guard in the history of the game, and his high hops and great timing make him a constant threat for opposing shooters, coming out of nowhere to send the ball to the first row with a violent slap. Also, he’s made 3 All-Defensive squads, owns 41.1 Defensive Win Shares under his belt and has averaged 1.7 steals and 0.9 swats per game throughout his career.
8. Bruce Bowen
Bowen’s per-game numbers weren’t flashy at all, recording just 0.8 steals and 0.3 blocks a game, but he had so smooth and quick hands to go along with a phrenetic lateral quickness that made it incredibly hard for opposing wings to get past him without turning the ball over or having to pass the ball. Also, he recorded 33.5 Defensive Win Shares and made 8 All-Defensive squads over his career.
7. John Stockton
John Stockton is way more remembered for being the best playmaker of his era and constantly leading the league in dimes per game, but he was also a deadly backcourt defender. His timing, speed and hustle made him constantly deflect opposing passes, force live ball turnovers or just flat out steal passes mid-air, recording 2.2 steals per game, with 64.9 Defensive Win Shares and 5 All-Defensive teams.
6. Chris Paul
Just like John Stockton, Chris Paul often makes the headlines because of his top-tier playmaking and passing abilities, but he’s one of the most annoying guys you could find guarding you on the hardwood. CP3 has a great lateral quickness and one of the quickest pair of hands in the world, and he won’t hesitate to go between screens to try and make you commit a turnover, averaging 2.3 steals per game with 37.2 Defensive Win Shares and 8 All-Defensive squads.
5. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal was by far the most dominant big man of his era, but he’s mostly remembered because of his insane dunks and sick offensive skill set rather than his defense. Nonetheless, his lone presence had a huge impact down low and he was an elite rim protector with 2.3 blocks per game throughout his career to go along with 0.6 steals and 66.4 Defensive Win Shares. Surprisingly, he only made 3 All-Defensive teams throughout his career despite being a huge defensive factor for the Lakers.
4. LeBron James
LeBron James is known for being one of the greatest lockdown defenders in the playoffs in the history of the game, and his signature chase-down blocks are something that will live forever in posters. Also, despite making 6 All-Defensive teams and being considered one of the best defensive wings in the league, he’s never been in the conversation for the DPOY award, averaging 1.6 steals and 0.7 blocks per game with 58.4 Defensive Win Shares.
3. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant was an extremely locked down defender when he was focused and player against top-tier opposition, regardless of what his haters would love to make you believe. As a matter of fact, he made 12 All-Defensive teams throughout his career despite being known much for his offensive repertoire, recording 50.7 Defensive Win Shares while averaging 1.4 steals and 0.5 blocks per game.
2. Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen doesn’t get enough credit for his overall game mostly because he spent almost his entire career playing alongside Michael Jordan, but he was by far the best defensive wing in the league during his prime and perhaps the best defending small forward ever.
Throughout his career, he made 10 All-Defensive teams and averaged 2 steals with 0.9 swats per game, as well as earning 67.3 Defensive Win Shares, but he never won the DPOY either.
1. Tim Duncan
And finally, we’ve got Tim Duncan, a guy that even though recorded 106.3 Defensive Win Shares throughout his career, never won the DPOY accolade. Duncan was a huge two-way presence in the elbow and below the rim as a great perimeter defender for his size as well. Thanks to his awareness, discipline and wingspan, he averaged 2.2 blocks per game to go along with 0.7 steals, making it to 15 All-Defensive teams.