Top Ten NBA Steals Leaders of All Time

We love all-time stat lists here at, this time feeding you with the info about the the top 10 all time NBA leaders in steals, with only one active player gracing the top 10 at number four and a look at other active players and how far away are they from making the top 10.

Number 10 – Karl Malone, 2085

Karl Malone

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Steals? Yes, The Mailman, besides being an awesome offensive force, had some defensive skills. He made the NBA All-Defensive team three times (1997-1999), getting late career recognition for that aspect of his game. Steals? He never led the league or the team in steals, that’s what happens when you have Stockton with you, but Malone never averaged less than a steal per game and his career average of 1.41 is 43rd all time.

Number 9 – Alvin Robertson, 2112

Alvin Robertson

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Now on his way to being a convicted felon, Robertson was once the NBA’s defensive player of the year. He won the award for the 1985-1986 season during his time as a San Antonio Spurs player (he also played for the Bucks, Pistons and Raptors). Robertson averaged 3.71 steals per game that season, leading the league in steals for the first time out of three times. Robertson is also one of only four players in NBA history to record a quadruple-double, scoring 20 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing 10 assists and getting 10 steals as the Spurs face the Suns. He has more 10 steal-games than any other player (4), and his career average of 2.71 is the best in NBA history.

Number 8 – Hakeem Olajuwon, 2162

Hakeem Olajuwon

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Hakeem did everything, and stealing was one of them as expected for a man described as a small forward in a Center body. A two time defensive player of the year (1993-1994) and a five time All-Defensive team member, Olajuwon averaged 1.75 steals per game throughout his career, 23rd in NBA history, by far the best mark for a center. He averaged over 2 steals per game five times during his 18 seasons in the league, with 2.6 being his best mark. Olajuwon is also one of the four men to achieve the quadruple-double.

Number 7 – Clyde Drexler, 2207

Clyde Drexler

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Always linked with Olajuwon, Drexler, who played in the NBA from 1983 to 1998, besides being a hall of famer and a great, great player, is also (probably) the reason for the Blazers going for Sam Bowie and not Michael Jordan back in the 1984 draft. They didn’t need another shooting guard, did they?
Drexler averaged 2.03 steals per game throughout his career, 9th best in NBA history. He finished among the top 10 in steals six times, including averaging a career best 2.7 in the 1988-1989 season.

Number 6 – Scottie Pippen, 2307

Scottie Pippen

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One of the greatest defenders in NBA history and a player young guys always get compared to when they showcase versatility and the ability to do about anything on the court. Pippen, probably the best sidekick in NBA history, played in the NBA for 18 seasons, mostly with the Chicago Bulls (6 titles) and spent some time with the Rockets and Blazers in his twilight years. He averaged 1.96 steals throughout his career, 13th best all time, leading the league in the 1994-1995 season with 2.9 per game. Pippen was part of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team eight times (1992-1999).

Number 5 – Maurice Cheeks, 2310

Maurice Cheeks

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The assistant coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder was quite a player, and although maybe not the flashiest guys on offense, Cheeks was one of the better point guards when it came to defense. When he retired he was the NBA’s all time leader in steals and his career average of 2.1 is 8th best in NBA history. He averaged over 2 steals per game in each season of his first 10 in the league, and was an NBA All-Defensive team member four times (1983-1986).

Number 3 – Gary Payton, 2445

gary payton

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The Glove is the only point guard in NBA history to win the NBA Defensive player of the year award back in 1996 and was an All-Defensive first team member nine times. He led the league in steals back in 1995-1996, averaging 2.9 and his career average of 1.83 is 20th all-time.

Number 2 – Michael Jordan, 2514

Michael Jordan

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The greatest ever was probably, when he turned it on, the greatest defender ever. 1988 – Defensive player of the year, along with that insignificant MVP award. He was a nine time All-Defensive First Team member. Jordan’s career average of 2.35 is the third highest in NBA history behind Alvin Robertson and Michael Ray Richardson. He also led the league in steals on three occasions – 1987-1988, averaging 3.2, 1989-1990, averaging 2.8 and finally in 1992-1993, averaging 2.8. During his second comeback with the Wizards, closing in on 40, Jordan still averaged 1.4-1.5 steals per game.

Number 2 – Jason Kidd, 2517

Jason Kidd

Finally an NBA champion, but with offensive numbers that are deteriorating fast. But this is about Kidd’s achievements on defense, not his terrible 2012 offense. His career average of 1.95 is 16th all time and the best among active players. He led the league in steals just once, in 2001-2002, averaging 2.1 per game.

Number 1 – John Stockton, 3265

John Stockton

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Stockton was only 6’1, weighing 170 pounds, but he was one of the toughest defenders out there, maybe would say also one of the dirtiest. His career total of 3265 seems to be in no risk of getting demoted to second, like his assists total. Stockton played for 19 seasons and rarely missed games or got injured, making his records seemingly unbreakable. He led the league in steals twice and his 2.17 career average is sixth best all time. He was a All-Defensive Second team member five times.

Active Players –

Jason Kidd is the number one among the active players, followed by Allen Iverson (we’ll call him still active), with 1983 steals (12th all time), averaging 2.17 per game, 7th in NBA history. Next up is 17th all time Kobe Bryant with 1692 steals, averaging 1.49 steals per game, 36th all time. Garnett (21st), Shawn Marion (33rd), Baron Davis (37th), Ron Artest (37th) and Paul Pierce (41st) complete the list of active players in the top 50. LeBron, just for general knowledge, is 94th currently with 1132 steals.