3. Bruce Bowen
The second paragraph of Bruce Bowen’s Wikipedia page starts like this: “One of the most feared perimeter "lockdown" defenders in NBA history, Bowen was elected to the NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams eight times, and was a member of the Spurs teams that won the NBA championships in 2003, 2005, and 2007.”
Of course, he’s one of the top defenders ever. He earned that right.
All eight of his All-Defense selections came with the Spurs. That’s tied with David Robinson, and only Tim Duncan can claim more. Behind the arc, no one was taking the ball past him. He was a brick wall on the perimeter that was simply impassable. If Ben Wallace wasn’t such a dominant force, Bowen may have won two Defensive Player of the Year awards instead of none.
Bowen was tasked with guarding the best player on the other team. Kobe, LeBron, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, the position didn’t matter that much -- they would all feel the wrath of Bowen.
Bowen was never much of a scorer, so he never made an All-Star team. In today’s NBA, I think he would be one of the best players in the league. He was an absolute stopper on defense, that much has been established. He could also handle the ball very well for a wing and shot over 40% from three on high volume during his time in the Silver and Black.
At 6’7” and someone who can score from deep, Bowen would be the perfect player in today’s game. Since he was behind Hall of Famers like Duncan, Parker, and Manu, I would go as far as to say that he did not live up to all his potential and could have been one of the best two-way, three-and-D players ever.