Defense is one of the more oft-overlooked aspects of basketball because it isn’t as pretty as what happens on the offensive end. Nevertheless, it’s just as important.
A lot has been made of how an explosive offense is the way to captivate fans. However, the other side of the ball can’t be overlooked because as the saying goes: “defense wins championships.”
The best way to track how effective a player is on the defensive end is by looking at their cumulative defensive win shares. Simply put, defensive win shares (DWS) are defined by how many wins a player produces based on his defensive ability.
That said, here are the five best defensive NBA point guards of all time, based on their DWS.
The Kidd: Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd was the definition of a jack-of-all-trades point guard: he could pass, score and grab rebounds. That earned him the nickname “Mr. Triple Double” and for good reason: he’s fourth all-time in triple-doubles with 107.
Additionally, the 10-time All-Star and Hall of Famer was an impressive defensive player in his own right. He averaged 3.9 win shares per season, totaling 75.1 DWS at the end of his 19-year career, good for 11th all-time.
As a result, he’s been a member of the All-Defensive 1st Team four times and a member of the All-Defensive 2nd Team five times.
The True Point Guard: John Stockton
Whenever anyone imagines a point guard, chances are they’re thinking of Utah Jazz legend John Stockton. Stockton embodied a true point guard: an extension of the coach that ran the team’s offense seamlessly.
Defensively, Stockton had 3,265 steals — the most all time — during his 19-year career, helping him get 64.9 DWS. That’s 20th all-time, with Kidd being the only other guard above him.
Although Stockton accumulated numerous All-NBA nods, he only made the All-Defensive 2nd Team five times.
The Houdini of the Hardwood: Bob Cousy
An All-Star in every full season that he played for the Boston Celtics, six-time NBA champion Bob Cousy was an all-around player: he averaged 18.4 points, 7.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Though he had a relatively short career — he only played 13 seasons — his 50.4 DWS is 44th overall. During the 1960-1961 season, the then-32-year-old Cousy racked up 6.3 DWS, the most in his career.
He has no All-Defensive team accolades, because those weren’t introduced until the 1968-1969 season. If he didn’t retire at 34, it’s interesting to see where Cousy could have landed all-time as he averaged 3.8 DWS per season.
The Glove: Gary Payton
There aren’t a lot of players that could lock down Michael Jordan, the greatest player of all time. But Gary Payton did as a member of the Seattle Supersonics.
The only point guard to win Defensive Player of the Year, Payton was a defensive nightmare and he never had a DWS lower than 1.2 during his 17-year career. His 48.8 DWS is 48th all-time and the fourth most by a point guard.
“The Glove” was a nine-time All-Defensive Team selection, making the 1st team all nine times.
The Point God: Chris Paul
Widely known as one of the best, if not the best, point guards of all time, Chris Paul’s offensive exploits are well-documented. But it seems like Paul is nutmegging and breaking opposing defenders’ ankles every game.
Even though he’s been injured a lot, Paul is averaging over two steals a game for his career. That’s helped him amass 47.3 DWS, 56th overall.
Paul’s been an All-Defensive Team selection nine times, being selected to the 1st team seven times and the 2nd team twice.