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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Chicago Bulls
Photo by PAUL BUCK / AFP/ Getty Images /

Michael Jordan. 3. player. 24. . Shooting Guard. 1984-1993, 1995-98

The case for Michael Jordan as the greatest defensive player in Chicago Bulls franchise history is there to be made. He won Defensive Player of the Year in 1988 and made the All-Defense First Team nine different times over the course of his career, a staggering number. His steal percentage of 3.3 is the highest in team history, and he ranks first in career defensive win shares.

The eye test checks out as well, as Jordan absolutely terrorized opponents. His athleticism, reaction speed and basketball IQ combined to form one of the greatest ballhawks in league history.

Jordan and his wingman Scottie Pippen would instinctively leap into traps that opponents had little hope to overcome. Once the turnover was created Jordan was an absolute monster in transition.

Peeling back the layers of his defensive excellence reveals just a patch of tarnish. His Defensive Box Plus-Minus came in at a positive but rather pedestrian 1.3, well behind many of his teammates such as Ron Harper (1.8), Horace Grant (1.8) and Scottie Pippen (2.6).

While his steal totals were gaudy he was a relatively mediocre rebounder despite being 6-6 with extraordinary athleticism.

Jordan’s award selections were always going to be elevated because of his name value, and if he played another position he would have faced greater competition. All of this is to say that Jordan is merely the third-best defender in franchise history and the best in the backcourt. His impact plays were incredible and could turn a game in a flash. When he and Pippen were truly dialed in the Bulls were unbeatable.

Michael Jordan is without a doubt the greatest player in the history of the Bulls, and arguably in the history of the sport. It’s fair to evaluate his defense with a more critical eye. Jordan was incredible, but not the best.