Best Defensive Point Guards of All Time in the History of the NBA

Being the best in the NBA means being the best in the world, as it is the league of elite Basketball players. One has to be an absolute genius, athletic, hardworking, and skillful to stand out as the best in the NBA.

Basketball is a team game, and every player in every position plays a crucial role. However, it is the point guards who run the offense and are typically the best dribbler and passers on the team. Therefore, to be the best point guard, one has to compete with the other best players.

The point guard is the first step of defense for the opponent. If he can stop the offense in the perimeter, they can put pressure on the opponent. There have been many legendary players who have defined the role of the point guards. Here are the ten best defensive point guards of all time in NBA history. You can also know about the best defensive NBA players of all time.

They are the best Defensive Point Guards of All Time

A point guard plays in the perimeter, so it is his responsibility to defend it. As they lead the offense, their defense is often overlooked. However, you cannot overlook the defense of these players.

  • Gary Payton
  • Jerry West
  • Chris Paul
  • Jason Kidd
  • John Stockton
  • Bob Cousy
  • Stephen Curry
  • Isiah Thomas
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Magic Johnson

Let’s have a brief peek at their glorious career. The statistics of the players are given as their career average, except for the number of games they played and the win shares.

1. Gary Payton

Gary Payton
Full NameGary Dwayne Payton Sr.
Date of BirthJuly 23, 1968
Birth’s PlaceOakland, California, U.S.
Height6 ft 4 in
Weight190 lb
NBA Draft1990 (Seattle SuperSonics, Pick: 2)
NBA Rookie of the YearN/A
TeamsSeattle SuperSonics, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics
PositionPoint Guard
NBA Champion2006
NBA Defensive Player of the Year1996
NBA All-Defensive First Team 9 Times: 1994-2002
NBA Most Valuable PlayerN/A

Gary Payton, the Seattle SuperSonics legend, is among the only few of those players who could lock down the great Michael Jordan.

Payton had a long career in the NBA, played 1335 games, and holds the record for the fifth most steals and the tenth most assists. During his 17-year career, he never had a DWS lower than 1.2. Payton was called the defensive nightmare because of his aggressive defense.

Payton was born in California in 1968 and had his debut in the NBA in 1990. He played for the Seattle SuperSonics till 2003 and later played for three more teams. Payton finally became the NBA champion in 2006 while playing for the Miami Heat and retired the following year.

  • Career statistics of Gary Payton
GamesPointsTRBStealsAssistsFG%Defense RatingWin Shares

2. Jerry West

Jerry West
Full NameJerome Alan West
Date of BirthMay 28, 1938
Birth’s PlaceChelyan, West Virginia, U.S.
OccupationBasketball Coach, Basketball Player
Height6 ft 3 in
Weight175 lb
NBA Draft1960 (Los Angeles Lakers Pick: 2)
NBA Rookie of the YearN/A
TeamsLos Angeles Lakers
PositionPoint Guard
NBA Champion1972
NBA All-Defensive First Team1970, 71, 72, 73
NBA Finals MVP1969
NBA Most Valuable PlayerN/A

The Los Angeles Lakers can sense greatness while drafting players into the team. Before they had Magic Johnson in 1979, the greatest Lakers, who also played in the point guard position, Lakers had another great point guard, Jerry West. He dominated the game throughout the 60s. West was also the no.1 pick in the 1960 draft.

West was a fourteen-time all-star from 1961-1974 and made the all-defensive first team four times. His career highlights include being 23rd in scoring, 34th in most career assists, and 233rd in rebounds.

West won the NBA championship in 1972 and the Finals MVP of the Year award in 1969 despite being on the losing side. In his 15-year-long career, West played 932 games and had an impressive 2.2 steals per game.

West retired as one of the best defensive point guards of all time in 1974 and was announced a Hall of Famer in 1980.

  • Career statistics of Jerry West
GamesPointsTRBStealsBlocksAssistsFG%Defense RatingWin Shares

3. Chris Paul

Chris Paul
Full NameChristopher Emmanuel Paul
Date of BirthMay 6, 1985
Birth’s PlaceWinston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.
Height6 ft 0 in
Weight175 lb
NBA Draft2005 (New Orleans Hornets, Pick: 4)
NBA Rookie of the Year2006
TeamsNew Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns
PositionPoint Guard
NBA ChampionN/A
NBA All-Defensive First Team7 Times: 2009, 2012-2017
NBA Most Valuable PlayerN/A
RetirementStill Active

Chris Paul began his pro career in 2005 with the New Orleans Hornets and immediately became a top player in the NBA. He was the rookie of the year in 2006. Since then, he has been performing like a mad bull in every match.

Paul stands as the player with 3rd most assists in his career, along with 4th in steals and 39 in rebounds.

At the age of 37, he is still running on the court like a newbie. He has an unreal ability of an off-the-dribble scorer in the midrange. He is also so good in defense that many consider him the best defensive point guard of the present time.

Paul is yet to win the NBA title. Hopefully, he will win at least one by the end of his career.

  • Career statistics of Chris Paul
GamesPointsTRBStealsBlocksAssistsFG%Defense RatingWin Shares

4. Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd
Full NameJason Frederick Kidd
Date of BirthMarch 23, 1973
Birth’s PlaceSan Francisco, California, US
OccupationBasketball Player
Height6 ft 4 in
Weight210 lb
NBA Draft1994 (Dallas Mavericks, Pick: 2)
NBA Rookie of the Year
TeamsDallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks
PositionPoint Guard
NBA Champion2011
NBA All-Defensive First Team4 Times: 1990, 2001, 02, 06
NBA Most Valuable PlayerN/A
4× NBA All-Defensive First Team4 Times: 1991, 2001, 02, 06
Retirement 2013

Jason Kidd was a perfect point guard player. He could pass, dribble, score, and, most importantly, defend the perimeter. Only 27 players have accumulated 138 or more win shares, and Kidd is one of them.

Jason had a total of 75.1 DWS at the end of his 19-year career, which makes him 11th in the most DWS list. He was in the NBA all-defensive first team four times in his career.

Kidd retired in 2013, and the same year he joined as a coach of the Brooklyn Nets and is currently the assistant coach of the Dallas Mavericks.

  • Career statistics of Jason Kidd
GamesPointsTRBStealsBlocksAssistsFG%Defense RatingWin Shares

5. John Stockton

John Stockton
Full NameJohn Houston Stockton
Date of BirthMarch 26, 1962
Birth’s PlaceSpokane, Washington, U.S.
Height6 ft 1 in
Weight175 lb
NBA Draft1984 (Utah Jazz, pIck: 16)
NBA Rookie of the YearN/A
TeamsUtah Jazz
PositionPoint Guard
NBA ChampionN/A
NBA All-Defensive Second Team5 Times: 1989, 1991, 92, 95, 97
NBA Assists Leader9 Times: 1988-1996
NBA Most Valuable PlayerN/A

John Stockton is not only a legend for the Jazz but also in the NBA. He played a major role in the team’s defense and has a career defensive rating of 104.

Stockton made the all-defensive first team five times and was a nine-time assist leader. He holds the record for more career steals with 3,265. Stockton also has the second-best defensive win share (64.9) as a guard. With such accomplishments, he solidified his position in the league of the best defensive point guards of all time.

The only reason there is no mention of his defensive accolades is that the defense awards were introduced in 1968., and Stockton retired from the court in 1970.

  • Career statistics of John Stockton
GamesPointsTRBStealsBlocksAssistsFG%Defense RatingWin Shares

6. Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy 
Full NameRobert Joseph Cousy
Date of BirthAugust 9, 1928
Birth’s PlaceNew York City, U.S.
OccupationBasketball Coach, Basketball Player
Height6 ft 1 in
Weight175 lb
NBA Draft1950 (Tri-Cities Blackhawks, Pick: 3)
NBA Rookie of the YearN/A
TeamsBoston Celtics, Cincinnati Royals
PositionPoint Guard
NBA Champion6 Times: 1957, 59, 1960, 61, 62, 63
NBA Finals MVP N/A
NBA Most Valuable Player1957

Bob Cousy is especially remembered for his defense. The six times NBA champion was an all-around player. Cousy played 924 games in 13 seasons. His 50.4 defensive win share is the 44th best in NBA history.

Cousy has no All-Defensive team accolades, as the award was introduced in 1968. With an average of 3.8 DWS per season, Cousy could have made the team many times.

  • Career statistics of Bob Cousy
GamesPointsTRBAssistsFG%Defense RatingWin Shares

7. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry
Full NameWardell Stephen Curry II
Date of BirthMarch 14, 1988
Birth’s PlaceAkron, Ohio, U.S.
OccupationBasketball Player
Height6 ft 2 in
Weight185 lb
NBA Draft2009 (Golden State Warriors, Pick: 1)
NBA Rookie of the YearN/A
TeamsGolden State Warriors
PositionPoint Guard
NBA Champion4 Times: 2015, 17, 18, 2022
NBA Finals MVP2022
NBA Most Valuable Player2015, 16
RetirementStill Active

About Stephen Curry’s greatness, his inclusion in this list is enough to prove as he is still actively playing in the NBA. Curry has made it to the list before retiring. While drafting him in 2009 into the team, the Golden State Warriors knew they had caught the big fish.

Curry stands as the 56th in career assists, 65th in steals, and 47th in all-time scoring. Curry is a renowned shooter, and his defensive and playmaking abilities are often overshadowed by it.

Curry is a two-time MVP, became the finals MVP in 2022, and is a four-time NBA champion. Curry was exceptionally good in 2015 and led the Warriors to become the NBA champion after 40 years! And now the Warriors are one of the most dominant teams in the NBA; Curry is leading from the front.

Surely Curry is a future hall of fame, and by the time he ends his career, he might even move up in the list.

Career statistics of Stephen Curry

GamesPointsTRBStealsBlocksAssistsFG%Defense RatingWin Shares

8. Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas
Full NameIsiah Lord Thomas III
Date of BirthApril 30, 1961
Birth’s PlaceChicago, Illinois, U.S
OccupationBasketball Coach, Basketball Player, Consultant, Film Producer, Actor and Commentator.
Height6 ft 1 in
Weight180 lb
NBA Draft1981 (Detroit Pistons, Pick: 2)
NBA Rookie of the YearN/A
TeamsDetroit Pistons
PositionPoint Guards
NBA Champion2 Times: 1989, 1990
NBA Finals MVP 1990
NBA Most Valuable PlayerN/A

Isiah Thomas defines “team plays” in the NBA. Along with his scoring average of 19.2, he also has an assists average of 9.3. In fact, he ranks 9th in assists. His defensive skills were sharp, and his agility, quickness, and dribbling helped him stand out.

Thomas was drafted into the NBA at the age of 20 and soon became a top player for the Detroit Pistons. In his fifteen-year-long career, Thomas won 2 NBA titles and was the finals MVP in 1990.

Thomas was one of the finest defensive point guards of his time. By the end of his career, Thomas finished as the top 17th in steals. After his retirement in 1994, Pistons retired his number.11 jerseys. To celebrate his successful career, he was inducted into the 2000 Hall of Fame class.

  • Career statistics of Isiah Thomas
GamesPointsTRBStealsBlocksAssistsFG%Defense RatingWin Shares

9. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
Full NameKobe Bean Bryant
Date of BirthAugust 23, 1978
Birth’s PlacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S
Height6 ft 6 in
Weight212 lb
NBA Draft1996 (Charlotte Hornets, Pick: 13)
TeamsLos Angeles Lakers
PositionShooting Guard/Point Guard
NBA Champion5 Times: 2000, 01, 02, 09, 10
NBA All-Defensive First Team9 Times: 2000, 03, 04, 06, 07, 08, 09, 2010, 2011
NBA Finals MVP2 Times: 2009, 2010
NBA Most Valuable Player1 Time: 2008
DeathJanuary 26, 2020

Kobe Bryant is considered the second-best Lakers player, next to Magic Johnson. He was drafted into the NBA in 1996 and had a long career of twenty years. Throughout his career, he was a top player in the league.

Despite being one of the best defenders, Bryant often does not get the credit he deserves. Saying that he was a good defender is an understatement. He made the all-defensive first team 12 times which includes nine first teams! Only Tim Duncan stands ahead of him with 15.

Kobe Bryant might not win the DOPY award, but his consistency in defense makes him even better than some of the best defensive point guards of all time.

  • Career statistics of Kobe Bryant
GamesPointsTRBStealsAssistsFG%Defense RatingWin Shares

10. Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson
Full NameEarvin Magic Johnson Jr.
Date of BirthAugust 14, 1959
Birth’s PlaceLansing, Michigan, U.S
OccupationBasketball Player, Basketball Coach, Actor, Motivational Speaker, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur, Film Producer, and Sports Commentator
Height6 ft 9 in
Weight220 lb
NBA Draft1979 ( Los Angeles Lakers, Pick: 1)
TeamsLos Angeles Lakers
PositionPoint Guards
NBA Champion5 Times: 190, 82, 85, 87, 88
NBA Finals MVP3 Times: 1980, 82, 87
NBA Most Valuable Player3 Times: 1987, 89, 90

Surely you cannot expect the list to end without the mention of Magic Johnson, who is known as the best point guard of all time in the history of the NBA. However, many at present raise an argument over his defensive skill.

To be frank, Johnson was not a skilled defender, but he was an effective defender. He had a good weight which he used to his advantage while defending. Besides, the Lakers in the 90s did not have many great defenders, yet they were highly successful during this time because of their team combination.

The Los Angeles Lakers had great chemistry in the team. Players understood each other and made each other better. Some argue that Johnson might not have been effective against today’s small-size point guards, but who knows? He was doing great in his time, and that surely counts. Despite all the criticism, he has a defense rating of 104.5, which is better than many of the skillful defenders.

The three-time MVP would be higher on the list of best point guards, but his defense was not as magical as his offense. However, it was good enough to bring him to the list of the ten best defensive point guards of all time, and for statistics, he was a two-time steals leader too.

He was speedy, pizzazz, and any adjective you know you can put by his name. He holds the record for sixth-highest career assists, 22nd position in most steals of all time, and 83rd in scoring as well as 146th in rebounds.

In his 13-season-long career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson achieved many things, including winning the NBA title five times.

Johnson retired from the NBA in 1996 and was introduced to the Hall of Fame in 2002. To show acknowledgment and honor to the legend, Los Angeles Lakers retired his number 32.

  • Career statistics of Magic Johnson
GamesPointsTRBStealsBlocksAssistsDefense RatingFG%Win Shares


As point guards lead the offense, their defensive ability often gets overlooked. These players on the list have excelled in defense and contributed greatly to the team’s victory. They will always be remembered as the best defensive point guards of all time in the history of the NBA.

Previous articleBill Gates Net Worth vs Elon Musk Net Worth: Who Is Richer?
Next articleAnthony Joshua’s Net Worth vs Tyson Fury’s Net Worth
Meet Liton Karmakar, an up-and-coming Basketball journalist who covers the league with a fresh perspective. With a finger on the pulse of the latest and updated news, Liton Karmakar provides an in-depth solid analysis of the game and its players. His writing style is engaging and easy to understand. It makes him a go-to source for fans looking for the latest on their favorite teams and players. He writes for several online media publications where his work is highly appreciated by readers.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here