Monday 18th December 2017,
The Hoop Doctors

Top 10 NBA Defenders of All-time

#10 - Alonzo Mourning

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If there was a definition for ‘intensity’ would you not expect to find Alonzo Mourning’s name in there somewhere? How about the word ‘Warrior’? This guy was an absolute beast on the defensive end. Although his offensive game was adequate, yet limited, he more than made up for it on the defensive end. He played with a purpose, and that was to shut people down. He seemingly put a lid on his teams basket. Most folks are aware of Alonzo’s kidney transplant that sidelined him for a few years, and about his almost miraculous comeback to the top with the Miami Heat. Keeping all of the missed games and limited minutes due to his health situations in mind, Mourning still is 10th all-time in blocked shots with 2,356. Even more impressive considering his limited minutes per game, he is 6th all-time in blocks per game at 2.81 over the course of his career. Simply astounding, Mourning is an inspiration, and one mean and intense defensive master. Alonzo is also a 2-time defensive player of the year recipient.

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  • David

    This is frankly a really pathetic list. David Robinson at 9? Gary Payton, but no Scottie Pippen? Are you kidding me? Did you make this by DPOY Awards because it’s pretty clear that Pippen deserved at least 2-3 and was COMPLETELY ROBBED of it by Mutumbo who you have at 7 or something…over David Robinson which is a fucking joke lol. Did you ever see any of these players actually play? Scottie Pippen was far and away the greatest perimeter defensive player that has ever set foot in the NBA and David Robinson is far by the 2nd greatest modern defensive force (80 to present) after Hakeem Olajuwon.

  • John

    Well, this was a pretty good list until I got to the end and realized that you left Scottie Pippen off entirely. He’s only the greatest perimeter defender in the history of basketball. Without Pippen, the list can’t be taken seriously.

  • PK

    What? No Pippen on the list….? Is this some sort of a bad joke or what…..?

  • Marcos

    Where the heck is Ben Wallace???

  • Philip Alber

    If Bill Russelll isn’t number one the list isn’t right! He will always be the best defender to ever play the game. When he blocked a shot it turned into a Celtic fast break,

  • are you kidding? who paid you to do this list? i can name 4 players on this list that DONT belong here but to exclude scotty pippen? you have lost you mind and your credibilty is shot

  • Paolo

    What about Scottie Pippen? Nobody has been able to defend across all positions before Scottie. Against Magic, Against Malone. Against Penny. Against Miller. Against Barkley. Against Hill. His defensive assignments have been a Hall of Fame (sorry Penny). But Scottie Pippen should have been on this list.

    Scottie Pippen. He just didn’t stand and waited. He disrupted the whole game plan. The one players I’ll put infront of Pippen are Olajuwon and Russell.

  • Your list is good. However I don’t understand how you’re going to leave John Stockton off of this list. I understand he played in about 500 more games than Jordan, but Stockton is the all time steals leader. 700 steals separate him from the 2nd place man Jordan. I think its fair to say that the all-time steals leader shouldn’t be left off of your list. Don’t forget Mark Eaton as well. You may be unfamiliar with Eaton, but he sits 5th on the all-time blocked shots list in only 875 career games. I understand you putting Olajuwon, Mutombo and Kareem on here, but all three played over 1000 career games. Remember this list doesn’t necessarily have to be made up of equally talented offensive and defensive players, but rather the BEST individual DEFENSIVE players. Interesting fact though, Kareem is the all time personal fouls leader in NBA history , Olajuwon is 5th and Stockton actually is 14th, so how much do you put into that? You may need to do some more research for your list.

  • Anklesnap

    @Adam Hausen – I like the idea of Stockton on the list if you only looked at stats and didn’t really ever see him play. He played defense a-la Allen Iverson. Took a lot of gambles to fill passing lanes and come up with steals.

    Stockton in his entire career never once was voted to the NBA All NBA Defensive First Team, and obviously then never received the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award either. Being a one dimensional defender by coming up with steals doesn’t make you an all-around great defender.

    In fact he was widely known as a defensive liability on the ball. Off the ball he was pretty smart, but he was a weak on the ball defender because of his lack of size and strength. Opposing Coaches used to draw up their offensive schemes against the Jazz to take advantage of Stockton as a defensive liability.

    All in all, just the sheer number of steals has to give him consideration, but all things taken into account, no way I think he can be on a Top 10 All-Time list. I have about 5-6 other guys i’d add before him.

  • Juks

    Looks like you read over some of my advice after the last awful debacle. This list is FAR superior. Olajuwon and Kareem are still too high (Kareem wasn’t THAT great of a one-on-one defender. Does no one remember him getting molested by Moses Malone? Does no one remember a 11-year Chamberlain besting Kareem on several occasions?) and Russell is WAY too low… but vast improvement for sure.

    Scottie Pippen is a glaring omission, definitely… Jordan was better on chase-downs and playing the passing lanes, but I give Pippen the edge as a defender because he was a MUCH better man-on-man defender. This dude would shut cats down.

    Also, check up on Walt Frazier, Sidney Moncrief, and Mark Eaton. These guys were ludicrously good defenders. Frazier and Moncrief would shut people down… Eaton wasn’t a fantastic iso defender cause of his lack of quickness, but christ could this guy block shots. I mean, at the very least, he’s better than Kareem.

    And on a note to Stockton, no, he doesn’t deserve a spot anywhere near this list… but comparing him defensively to AI? What?
    Stockton was NOT a defensive liability. I feel he got a bad rap because Isiah and Payton would light him up… but those guys lit everyone up. Stockton was a fantastic off-ball defender, for sure, but he was scrappy, smart, and most importantly, DIRTY as a man-on-man defender. What he lacked in quickness, he made up for in trips and knees. Not even joking, dude was remembered as such a class act off the court that people forget he was a huge d-bag on the court.
    Don’t consider this defense? Well, then what do you call Bruce Bowen?

  • Juks

    You know, I’d really leave Kareem off the list… I just can’t justify him as a top-10. He’d get a lot of blocks, for sure, but he was 7’3!!! He’d be bullied in the post by guys twice his size and would CONSTANTLY be taking off possessions, giving away easy buckets cause he didn’t care to chase the guy down.

    I can’t say he’s a better defender, all-around, than Jordan, Payton, Pippen, Moncrief, Rodman, Olajuwon, Russell, Chamberlain (who I really never saw, in fairness), Eaton, Mutombo, Robinson, Mourning… Hell, not sure I’d put him above guys like Ben Wallace, Dwight Howard, Walt Frazier, Dennis Johnson, Bobby Jones… he’d probably go above most of those guys, but I’d have to think about it long and hard.

  • Parker

    Is this cockchugger serious? Scottie Pippen is the best defender of all time. Go put your panties back on. Your faggotry makes me want to vomit.

    • Totally agree. Scottie was the best I ever saw. He could was a players worst nightmare and could shut anyone down with his size, long arms, quickness and strength.

  • RH

    This is more like a list of “Great Offensive Players Who Also Tried On Defense”, with the exceptions of Rodman, Mutombo, and perhaps Russell, who weren’t known for scoring. Obviously, Pippen should have been included and specialists like Michael Cooper, Bobby Jones, and Alvin Robertson should at least have been considered. Sidney Moncrief, Bruce Bowen, Ron Artest, Ben Wallace might qualify as other candidates and I’m sure there are many others who have been overlooked or forgotten (T. R. Dunn and Dan Roundfield were strong defenders hardly anyone mentions anymore, maybe because Dunn was not otherwise a great player; Roundfield made the All-Star team, though). Things could have been worse, however, if Mark Aguirre, Kelly Tripucka, Kiki Vandeweghe, Rik Smits, World B. Free, or Dino Radja–maybe the worst ever, at least among players who got a lot of minutes–had turned up.

  • Keith

    As a Sonic fan, I am great admirer of Gary Payton. But I contend that Dennis Johnson was the best defensive guard in team history. He was bigger, stronger, a better shot blocker and rebounder, and more capable of shutting down the bigger 2 guards and many 3s. Yeah, any discussion of best defensive guards of all time must include Payton, but I give DJ the edge. Walt Frazier certainly belongs as does KC Jones. I’m glad to see Sidney Moncrief getting some recognition. Other guards that certainly should be remembered for their stellar D are Jerry Sloan, Norm Van Lier, Joe Dumars, Jerry West.

    Nobody has mentioned Nate Thurmond. He was a superb defender. Both Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem rated him the best defender they ever faced. There is a video available on the internet that shows about 30 seconds of Thurmond in action. His blocks and in the paint D were a thing to behold. Veterans of that era like Lenny Wilkens and Jerry West swear that they routinely saw Russell, Chamberlain and Thurmond block a half dozen shots per game. If they had kept track of blocks in the 60s, the three of them would have totals that would have been astronomical.

    For the record, Bill Russell did not face weak competition. The truth is that he had to play 50 tough man to man matchups per year, far more than Hakeem or Dikember. Russell’s career spanned ’56 to 68. Remember, it was a smaller league back then, just 8 teams for the first 8 years of his career with eventual expansion to 12 in his last 2 seasons. That meant Russells’ Celtics played each of their opponents 9 to 11 times a season. The NBA was so eager to capitalize on it’s most prominant marquee matchup that after Chamberlain entered the league in ’59, they scheduled Russell’s Celtics against Chamberlain’s Warriors a whopping 14 time a year. Other big time centers he faced 9 to 11 times a season throughout his career were: Thurmond – a Hall of Fame (HOF) player who entered the NBA in ’64, Willis Reed – HOF entered NBA in ’65, Zelmo Beaty – 3 time All Star before he jumped to the ABA (’63), Walt Bellamy – HOF( ’61), Clyde Lovelette -HOF( ’57), and Wayne Embry – 4 time All Star( ’59). In the last two years of his career he also faced Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld and the largely forgotton but explosive scoring Bob Rule. Also remember that Jerry Lucas, Bob Petit, Rudy LaRussa, Gus Johnson and Dave Debusschere were around to pound on him from the 4 position.

    Hakeem simply didn’t face that kind of competition night after night. In the watered down, over sized league the NBA has become, he only faced his top competitors a maximum of 4 times each per year. Shaq, Mr. Robinson, Mutombo, Ewing, and Mourning and perhaps Smits, they added up to only about 24 really tough man to man matchups per year. Yes, Sikma, Daugherty, Seikaly, Moses Malone, Gilmore and Parish were still around during Hakeem’s first couple of seasons but they were either retired on the downsides of their ilustrious careers during Hakeem’s prime. Hakeem was a superb defender but to categorically annoint him the best of all time is debatable. He may be the best of all time but he didn’t face tougher competition.

  • vid decriz

    Kareem? Wilt? No BEN WALLACE? Ridiculous.

  • No Pippen. He may have been the best of all time. Am not even going to look at the list. Forget it!

  • I believe Pippen got more DEFENSIVE ALL NBA teams than any other player. EVER, Russell or Hakeen may be up there as well, but that’s it. Geeeeeese! You guys are slap happy. Where were these guys when they voted.

  • Chris Austin

    Wilt not being number 1 pretty much makes this whole thing invalid

    • Kobe Bryant

      Wilt defended bums that can’t do shit on offense

  • mark wilson

    No Scottie Pippen? He definitely belongs in the list somewhere!

  • Kevin Healey

    This list is a little embarassing. Olajuwon is pretty much the only one I agree with. Kareem at three is absurd.