In the last entry, we focused on the five best defensive NBA point guards of all time, but now, we turn to the five best defensive shooting guards in NBA history. In case you missed it, Jason Kidd was tops on our point guard list with 75.1 defensive win shares, good for 11th all-time.
Like last time, these shooting guards are ranked based on the cumulative defensive win shares (DWS). DWS are how many wins a player produces based on his defensive ability.
That said, here are the NBA’s five best defensive shooting guards of all-time, based on their DWS.
(Note: Players chosen only if they have played as a shooting guard for most, if not all, of their career.)
Watch out for The Flash: Dwyane Wade
The Miami HEAT’s best player in franchise history, Dwyane Wade was an offensive maestro. Once he had the ball on the fastbreak, “The Flash” was gone.
Averaging 1.5 steals per game, Wade could block transition shots as well with the best of them. In his 16-year career, Wade averaged 2.961 DWS per year and his 47.38 DWS is good for 55th overall.
In all, Wade was a three-time All-Defensive Team selection (all on the 2nd team), his 1620 steals rank 31st all-time and he’s had six seasons where he ranked top-20 in steals per game.
Although Wade had an accomplished resume, if he had played one more season, he would’ve easily overtaken the next player on the list.
GINOBILI!: Manu Ginobili
One of the most innovative offensive players, San Antonio Spurs’ legend Manu Ginobili was a very unique player. Many remember Ginobili for his offense, but he was also a capable defender. Also, he was disliked for flopping — feigning a foul to get the ball back, yet he proved to be a key ingredient to the Spurs’ championship-winning formula.
Coming over as a 25-year-old rookie, Ginobili only had two seasons where he had fewer than one steal per game and he averaged 1.3 steals for his career. That said, he’s 61st all-time in steals with 1392 and he had six seasons in the top-20 in steals.
His 47.4 DWS is 54th overall, good for an average of 2.963 DWS per season, slightly edging Wade.
Clyde Glides to Third: Clyde Drexler
Back in the 80s and 90s as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets, Clyde “The Glide” Drexler and Michael Jordan constantly battled for the title of “best shooting guard.” In order to claim that title, both players had to play defense as well.
Although Drexler never made an All-Defensive Team in his career, he did average two steals per game for his 15-year career. That’s good for 14th all-time in NBA history — and he also had 10 seasons in the top 20 for steals per game.
Overall, he’s ninth in steals with 2,207, and Drexler’s 49.9 DWS is good for 45th all-time. Although Jordan won that battle, there’s nothing wrong with being named the third-best defensive player at his position and one of the best shooting guards of all time.
The Black Mamba Strikes: Kobe Bryant
Los Angeles Lakers late legend Kobe Bryant is often considered the greatest Laker ever and with good reason: Bryant is first in many of the Lakers’ statistical categories. All that was due to Bryant emulating Jordan’s relentless drive to win on both sides of the floor.
A 12-time All-Defensive Team selection, a nine-time 1st team All-Defense and three-time 2nd team All-Defense, Bryant’s 50.6 DWS ranks him 43rd overall. In his 20 seasons, Bryant averaged 2.5 DWS and 1.4 steals per year. As a result, he’s 17th all-time with 1944 and had six seasons in the top-20 in steals.
Even though injuries caught up with him toward the end of his illustrious career, Bryant still battled as a defender when needed. But, there is one only shooting guard that leapfrogged over all others.
Air Jordan Skies Above the Rest: Michael Jordan
To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Michael Jordan is the best defensive shooting guard in NBA history. Perhaps the most unstoppable offensive player in NBA history, Jordan decimated and demoralized his foes on the defensive end.
In the 13 seasons in which he played more than 60 games, mostly with the Chicago Bulls, the 1988 Defensive Player of the Year was a nine-time All-Defensive Team selection — all first-team honors — and a three-time steals champion. For his career, Jordan averaged 2.3 steals (third all-time) and 4.2 DWS per year.
Jordan also had two seasons (86-87 and 87-88) where he was in the top-20 in blocks per game and seven seasons in the top-20 in defensive rating. In all, Jordan’s 64.1 DWS rank him 21st all-time.
Jordan’s inclusion as the best defensive shooting guard isn’t surprising considering his relentless attitude to winning. He would find a way to beat his opponents, mentally and physically, and without his defensive tenacity, he wouldn’t be considered the greatest of all-time.