Draymond Green
Draymond Green's claim to be the NBA's best defender ever sparks major debate
Draymond Green

Draymond Green's claim to be the NBA's best defender ever sparks major debate

Published Mar. 24, 2021 6:44 p.m. ET

The GOAT debate in the NBA is a lively one, but it's one that normally leans on offensive output to make a case.

Defensive contributions are tougher to measure — historically, at least — which makes determining the NBA's greatest defender of all time a tougher nut to crack.

In Draymond Green's eyes, though, the answer is unequivocal. He's the best defensive player the NBA has ever seen — period.

The Golden State Warriors forward's assertion caught the attention of retired defensive standout Tony Allen and a whole host of other opinionists.


Allen, who made six NBA All-Defensive teams over the course of his 14-year career, questioned Green on Twitter on Tuesday.

Naturally, Green clapped back at Allen.

The 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year and five-time NBA All-Defensive team selection cited Allen's dismal 3-point shooting (28.2% career) as an advantage the 2014-15 Warriors used to vanquish Allen's Memphis Grizzlies en route to Golden State's championship.

And the ball was off and rolling. 

Plenty of pundits, including many former players, had thoughts on Green's proclaiming himself the best defender in league history.

On "Undisputed," Shannon Sharpe didn't hold back in his rebuttal of Green's statement, listing the players he believes to be greater than Green in the defensive department.

"Draymond Green is not even a top-20 defender all time! ... Is he better than Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Dwight Howard, Dikembe Mutombo, Tim Duncan and Ben Wallace? ... Dennis Rodman, Kawhi Leonard, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett, Bobby Jones? ... Michael Jordan, Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Sidney Moncrief, Michael Cooper, Bruce Bowen, Alvin Robertson or Tony Allen?"

That's 19 players right there, all of whom Skip Bayless co-signed. Plus, Sharpe intentionally omitted all-time defensive greats whom he didn't see play, such as Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Walt "Clyde" Frazier.

Former Sacramento Kings great Chris Webber, who played a decade-plus in the league, addressed Green's claim on TNT's "Inside the NBA."

"That’s just crazy, and whoever agrees with him on ‘ever,’ you don’t know basketball."

Another former player in Antoine Walker wasn't feeling Green's boast.

On "First Things First," Walker argued that Green might not have even been regarded as the best defender on his own team at certain points in his career.

"Draymond Green is a great off-the-ball defender ... but he's never been known as a 'lockdown' defender. Case in point: NBA Finals, when Golden State was on their run, that dynasty run, Andre Iguodala was guarding the best wing [opponent]. Not Draymond Green. He didn't guard LeBron James in the Finals. ... When you're the best defender in the world, you guard a LeBron James."

But Green isn't completely bereft of support for his claim.

Among his many accolades, he has the fourth-highest career defensive box plus/minus (+2.76) since 1973, trailing only Mark Eaton (2.91), Nate McMillan (2.94) and David Robinson (3.05).

Defensive box plus/minus is defined as "a box score estimate of the defensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player, translated to an average team." 

Plus, there is something to be said for Green's versatility, as he regularly switches defensive assignments and can guard every position on the floor.

Despite all the detractors, do you think Green is going to change his opinion?

Didn't think so.

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