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) /
6 of 16
Tom Boerwinkle, Chicago Bulls
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images /

. Center. 1968-1978. Tom Boerwinkle. 11. player. 24

Bob Love received the accolades for his part on the successful Chicago Bulls defenses of the early 1970s, but his impact may have only been made possible by the presence of the rim-protecting Tom Boerwinkle.

The fourth overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft, Boerwinkle came into the league ready to play.

In his rookie season, he played in 80 games and pulled in 11.1 rebounds-per-game. That number only went up, and he pulled in 12.5, 13.8 and 11.2 respectively over the next three. If Bob Love and Jerry Sloan forced misses, Boerwinkle closed out the possessions with the rebound.

The center never received All-Defense accolades, but the advanced numbers bear out his impact.

No player in Bulls history has ever topped his 6.7 defensive win-shares in 1972.

Although his best years came before most such stats are available, on the downslope of his career he was still an impact defender. He posted a defensive rebounding rate of 25.4 percent, an elite number, and his defensive plus-minus even late in his career was at a high level.

Boerwinkle played ten total seasons in the league, all with the Bulls, but injuries limited him from his fifth-season on. If full impact numbers were available from the beginning of his career he might go down as one of the very best defenders in franchise history. As it is he comes in at a strong 11th on the all-time list.