Chicago Bulls: 15 best defenders of all-time

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Power Forward. 1995-1998. Dennis Rodman. 5. player. 24.

One of the most recognizable and outlandish characters in the history of the league, Dennis Rodman, was a truly special defensive player.

After helping the Bad Boy Pistons to two titles and pushing the Spurs to Western Conference contention, Rodman joined the Bulls on the downslope of his career and was a defensive catalyst for their second three-peat in the late 1990s.

One of the things that made Rodman such a unique defensive player was that he did not rack up gaudy steal and block totals. Rodman never averaged more than one block or one steal per game throughout his career.

What Rodman did better than anyone else was clean the glass — his 32.2 percent defensive rebound rate is by far the highest in franchise history from full-time players.

Rodman’s impact was much greater than simply rebounding, as his teams shut down opponents while he was on the court. His Defensive Plus-Minus of 3.5 with the Bulls ranks fourth in franchise history, and he’s behind only centers (who more easily float up that leaderboard).

Despite his advancing age, Rodman was still a First-Team All-Defense selection in 1996.

It’s impossible to say the Bulls would not have won all three of those titles without Rodman, but it’s highly unlikely.

He was such a unique player and paired with the wing combination of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Ron Harper. Those Bulls teams terrorized opponents.

In the playoffs, that intensity only ratcheted up. There may not have ever been such a combination of long, athletic, fly-around-the-court defenders in league history, and that’s why that three-year run is one of the best that has ever been seen.