Bill Russell. Hakeem Olajuwon. Michael Jordan. Tim Duncan. Dennis Rodman.
Warriors star Draymond Green believes one name stands above those as the greatest defender in NBA history.
"I think I'm the best defender to ever play this game," Green declared on Tuesday's episode of the "Dubs Talk" podcast.
Green has always believed in himself. But does he really mean it?
"One hundred percent. That's my opinion."
Green made an NBA All-Defensive team in five of his first eight seasons, winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2016-17. He believes he should be the favorite for the award this season, but the 31-year-old forward will face some stiff competition. Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons and Indiana Pacers big man Myles Turner have gained a lot of traction this season, while former winners Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo must be considered serious candidates.
Over nine NBA seasons (and counting), Green's impact has gone far beyond his traditional statistics. The eye test, and the Warriors' results, showed important he was to their dynastic run. Although their elite defense was often overshadowed by their historically explosive offense, Green was the key cog in Golden State's switch-heavy defense.
Unlike some of the great defensive centers, Green is only 6-foot-6. Nor is he sculpted or rangy, as the best wing defenders often are. Instead, he thrives with under-the-radar athleticism and elite basketball IQ complementing his incredible instincts.
"I also think I view the game a lot differently than most people view the game because I think I just see it from a different perspective," Green elaborated. "I think when you look at the things that make a good defender: Reaction time, toughness, being able to see the picture long before it develops, and most importantly, in order to finish a defensive possession, you got to rebound, and I think I rebound well."
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Golden State Warriors
The dynastic Warriors' revolutionary offense grabbed headlines, but those teams were so lethal because they still had an elite defense when Green lined up as a small-ball center. Throughout his career, Green has been able to match up with the best 7-footers and lock down the quickest guards. Green's help defense, which Warriors broadcasting legend Jim Barnett has said is the best ever, can't be overlooked, either,
You don't need to remind Green, though, as he confidently recognizes everything he does well.
"When I look at all the facets that make up the defensive side of the ball, I think I'm great in every facet that makes up that side of the ball," he said.
When all is said and done, and Green retires to a likely Hall of Fame induction, the basketball world will be able to look back and decide if they agree with his declaration. But at the end of the day, it does not seem like Green needs any assurance or justification.
"I think I'm the best defender to ever play in the NBA. I stand by that, I'd put myself up against anyone."