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 Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Jimmy Butler. 9. player. 24. . Wing. 2011-2017

If Tom Thibodeau inherited Luol Deng and Joakim Noah and crafted an elite defense around them, Jimmy Butler was the player Thibodeau first crafted into an elite defender. The 6-8 wing was the final pick of the first round in the 2011 NBA Draft and has now become an All-NBA level talent.

Butler played the first six seasons of his career with the Bulls, and almost immediately became a top-tier defender.

Butler eventually took the mantle of top wing defender from Luol Deng as the latter began to decline and then joined the Miami Heat in 2014. Butler could guard anyone from point guards to power forwards, freeing up the Bulls to play a variety of players around him.

His greatest strength was generating steals, which he could do on-ball with quick hands and anticipation, or off-ball leaping into passing lanes. Butler also had the length to get the occasional block, swatting a shot every other game during his tenure.

In addition to his All-Star and All-NBA considerations, Butler was named to the All-Defensive Second Team on three separate occasions. In a league where the very best players tend to be forwards, Butler is one of the few capable of taking them on. He did that and more for the Bulls as one of its best defenders.