The 20 Players With Most Steals in NBA History

Players With Most Steals in NBA History: In the NBA, where the games are fast and high-scoring, steals play a big role. Getting the ball from the other team at the right time can really change a game, giving your team a chance to score. Over the years, there have been many players in the NBA who were really good at stealing the ball, and they’ve made a mark in the league with their skill.

Players With Most Steals in NBA History

Let’s check out the top 20 players who have the most steals in NBA history.

1. John Stockton

  • Team(s): Utah Jazz (1984–2003)
  • Total Steals: 3,265
  • Games Played: 1,504
  • Average: 2.17

John Stockton is at the top of the list for players with the most steals in NBA history. He’s widely considered one of the best point guards, players, and passers ever. Stockton played his entire NBA career (1984–2003) with the Utah Jazz, and during those 19 seasons, the team always made it to the playoffs. In 1997 and 1998, alongside his longtime teammate Karl Malone, Stockton led the Jazz to the NBA Finals, but unfortunately, they lost both times to the Chicago Bulls.

Image Source: NBA

Stockton was selected as an NBA All-Star ten times and holds two significant NBA records: one for the most career assists and the other for the most steals, both by a wide margin. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 for his outstanding individual career and again in 2010 as a member of the 1992 United States Olympic basketball team. In 1996, among the 50 greatest players in NBA history. Recently, in October 2021, Stockton received recognition once again, being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

To highlight his incredible stealing ability, Stockton accumulated a total of 3,265 steals in 1,504 games throughout his remarkable career.

2. Jason Kidd

  • Team(s): Dallas Mavericks (1994–1996, 2008–2012), Phoenix Suns (1996–2001), New Jersey Nets (2001–2008), New York Knicks (2012–2013)
  • Total Steals: 2,684
  • Games Played: 1,391
  • Average: 1.93

Jason Kidd holds the second spot among players with the most steals in NBA history. He’s widely recognized as one of the greatest point guards and passers in the game. His impressive career includes winning an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 and earning two gold medals with the U.S. national team in 2000 and 2008.

Image Source: NBA.COM

Drafted second overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994, Kidd began his career as the co-NBA Rookie of the Year. He played for various teams, including the Phoenix Suns and the New Jersey Nets, leading the Nets to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. Kidd returned to Dallas in the middle of the 2007–08 season and secured his only NBA championship at the age of 38 in 2011.

Known for his exceptional passing and rebounding skills, Kidd was a triple-double threat regularly. He retired with impressive records, ranking third all-time in regular season triple-doubles with 107 and third in playoff triple-doubles with 11. Kidd is second on the NBA’s all-time lists for career assists and steals and 15th in three-point field goals made.

In total, Jason Kidd amassed 2,684 steals in 1,391 matches throughout his remarkable NBA career.

3. Chris Paul

  • Team(s): New Orleans Hornets (2005–2011), Los Angeles Clippers (2011–2017), Houston Rockets (2017–2019), Oklahoma City Thunder (2019–2020), Phoenix Suns (2020–2023), Golden State Warriors (2023–present)
  • Total Steals: 2,571
  • Games Played: 1,232
  • Average: 2.09

Chris Paul is the third player with the most steals in NBA history. Known as one of the greatest point guards, he’s earned multiple awards, including NBA Rookie of the Year, All-Star Game MVP, and two Olympic gold medals. Paul led the NBA in assists five times and holds the record for steals, achieving it six times. He’s been selected for twelve NBA All-Star teams, eleven All-NBA teams, and nine NBA All-Defensive teams. In 2021, he made it to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

Image Source: NBA.COM

Drafted in 2005 by the New Orleans Hornets, Paul quickly became a top player, finishing second in MVP voting in 2008. He played for various teams, like the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, and recently the Golden State Warriors. Throughout his career, he’s been a key part of successful teams, reaching the NBA Finals with the Suns in 2021 and achieving a franchise-record 64 wins the following season.

In total, Chris Paul amassed 2,571 steals in 1,232 matches, showcasing his exceptional defensive skills throughout his impressive career.

4. Michael Jordan

  • Team(s): Chicago Bulls (1984–1993, 1995–1998), Washington Wizards (2001–2003)
  • Total Steals: 2,514
  • Games Played: 1,072
  • Average: 2.35

Michael Jordan, considered the greatest basketball player, ranks fourth in NBA history for steals. Jordan’s impact on globalizing basketball is immense, earning him iconic status in the 1980s and 1990s.

NBA All-time Point Scorers
Image Source: Instagram

Starting with the North Carolina Tar Heels, Jordan quickly rose to stardom after being drafted by the Bulls in 1984. Known as “Air Jordan,” he showcased remarkable skills, winning numerous awards, including six NBA Finals MVPs and three steals titles. Off the court, Jordan’s influence extended to endorsements, notably with Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers. He starred in Space Jam (1996) and the documentary series The Last Dance (2020). Beyond basketball, he ventured into team ownership with the Charlotte Hornets and NASCAR with 23XI Racing.

Jordan’s impact transcends sports, leading to inductions into multiple halls of fame and becoming the first billionaire NBA player in 2016. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, and as of 2023, his net worth is estimated at $3 billion.

In his NBA career, Jordan amassed 2,514 steals in 1,072 matches, leaving an enduring legacy both on and off the court.

5. Gary Payton

  • Team(s): Seattle SuperSonics (1990–2003), Milwaukee Bucks (2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003–2004), Boston Celtics (2004–2005), Miami Heat (2005–2007)
  • Total Steals: 2,445
  • Games Played: 1,335
  • Average: 1.83

Gary Payton, fifth in NBA history for steals, is considered one of the greatest point guards. He played a significant part of his 13-year career with the Seattle SuperSonics, setting franchise records in assists and steals. Payton also had stints with the Bucks, Lakers, Celtics, and Heat, winning an NBA championship with the Heat in 2006. Known as “the Glove” for his defensive skills, he earned a spot in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021.

Image Source: NBA.COM

As the first point guard to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, Payton’s defensive prowess is legendary. He shares the record for nine NBA All-Defensive First Team selections with Jordan, Garnett, and Bryant. Throughout his career, he earned nine NBA All-Star appearances and nine All-NBA Team selections. Payton’s impact on the game was described by Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich as “probably as complete a guard as there ever was.”

In a total of 2,445 steals across 1,335 matches, Payton showcased his exceptional defensive skills, solidifying his legacy as one of the all-time greats in the NBA.

6. Maurice Cheeks

  • Team(s): Philadelphia 76ers (1978–1989), San Antonio Spurs (1989–1990), New York Knicks (1990–1991), Atlanta Hawks (1991–1992), New Jersey Nets (1993)
  • Total Steals: 2,310
  • Games Played: 1,101
  • Average: 2.10

Maurice Cheeks, ranking sixth in NBA history for steals, currently works as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA. Besides his coaching roles, he has served as head coach for the Portland Trail Blazers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Detroit Pistons. Cheeks earned induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 2018.

Image Source: NBA.COM

Throughout his playing career, Cheeks amassed a total of 2,310 steals in 1,101 matches, showcasing his exceptional defensive skills.

His contributions on the court and his coaching experience have solidified his place in the basketball world.

7. Scottie Pippen

  • Team(s): Chicago Bulls (1987–1998, 2003–2004), Houston Rockets (1999), Portland Trail Blazers (1999–2003)
  • Total Steals: 2,307
  • Games Played: 1,178
  • Average: 1.96

Scottie Pippen, seventh in NBA history for steals, played 17 seasons, winning six championships with the Chicago Bulls alongside Michael Jordan. A versatile small forward, he earned multiple All-Defensive and All-NBA Team selections, seven NBA All-Star appearances, and the 1994 NBA All-Star Game MVP.

Image Source: NBA

Pippen was crucial in the Bulls’ ’90s dynasty and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He also excelled internationally, winning Olympic gold in 1992 and 1996.

Pippen is a two-time Hall of Famer, recognized for both his individual career and contributions to the “Dream Team.” His number 33 jersey is retired by the Bulls and the University of Central Arkansas. He accumulated 2,307 steals in 1,178 matches, showcasing his defensive brilliance.

8. LeBron James

  • Team(s): Cleveland Cavaliers (2003–2010, 2014–2018), Miami Heat (2010–2014), Los Angeles Lakers (2018–present)
  • Total Steals: 2,211
  • Games Played: 1,439
  • Average: 1.54

LeBron James, eighth in NBA steals, is renowned as one of the greatest basketball players, often compared to Michael Jordan. Nicknamed “King James,” he holds the NBA’s all-time scoring record and ranks fourth in assists. With four NBA championships, James has appeared in 10 NBA Finals, showcasing his impact on the court.

NBA All-time Point Scorers
Image Source: Instagram

Starting from St. Vincent–St. Mary High School, James entered the NBA as the first overall pick in 2003, winning Rookie of the Year. His move to the Miami Heat in 2010, known as “The Decision,” sparked controversy. Throughout his career, he amassed numerous accolades, including MVP and Finals MVP awards, All-Star selections, and All-NBA Team appearances.

Beyond basketball, James has become a global icon, accumulating wealth through endorsements and business ventures. He’s a part-owner of Liverpool F.C.

LeBron James has recorded 2,211 steals in 1,439 matches, showcasing both his offensive prowess and defensive skills.

9. Clyde Drexler

  • Team(s): Portland Trail Blazers (1983–1995), Houston Rockets (1995–1998)
  • Total Steals: 2,207
  • Games Played: 1,086
  • Average: 2.03

Clyde Drexler, ranked ninth in NBA history for steals, is fondly known as “Clyde the Glide.” Over his 15-season career in the National Basketball Association (NBA), he primarily played for the Portland Trail Blazers before concluding with the Houston Rockets. Drexler, a ten-time NBA All-Star, holds prestigious honors as a member of the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams.

Image Source: NBA

Drexler’s impressive career includes winning an NBA championship with the Houston Rockets in 1995 and securing a gold medal with the iconic 1992 United States Olympic “Dream Team.” Recognized as one of the greatest basketball players and shooting guards of all time, Drexler received dual inductions into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, first in 2004 for his individual career and then in 2010 as part of the “Dream Team.”

In total, Drexler accumulated 2,207 steals across 1,086 matches, showcasing his defensive prowess and solidifying his legacy among the NBA’s all-time greats.

10. Hakeem Olajuwon

  • Team(s): Houston Rockets (1984–2001), Toronto Raptors (2001–2002)
  • Total Steals: 2,162
  • Games Played: 1,238
  • Average: 1.75

Hakeem Olajuwon, tenth in NBA steals, played center for the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors from 1984 to 2002. Leading the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, he’s considered one of the greatest centers and players ever. Olajuwon, born in Nigeria, started at the University of Houston, making three Final Four appearances. Drafted first overall in 1984, he formed the “Twin Towers” with Ralph Sampson.

NBA All-time Point Scorers
Image Source: Instagram

After Sampson’s departure, Olajuwon became the Rockets’ leader, winning accolades like NBA All-Star, MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year. In 1993–94, he made history by winning MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP in a single season, securing consecutive championships. Olajuwon’s impact stretched to the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, and he’s part of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

Olajuwon recorded 2,162 steals in 1,238 matches, leaving a legacy as the NBA’s all-time leader in blocks and one of four with a quadruple-double.

11. Alvin Robertson

  • Team(s): San Antonio Spurs (1984–1989), Milwaukee Bucks (1989–1993), Detroit Pistons (1993), Toronto Raptors (1995–1996) 2,112 779 2.71
  • Total Steals: 2,112
  • Games Played: 779
  • Average: 2.71

Alvin Robertson, ranked 11th in NBA steals, played in the league from 1984 to 1993 and made a final appearance in the 1995–96 season. Renowned for his defensive prowess,

Image Source: NBA.COM

Robertson holds the record for the most steals per game in his career, averaging 2.71 steals. He achieved a unique milestone in the 1985–86 season, recording 300 or more steals, a feat unmatched by any other player. Robertson is also the sole guard in NBA history to achieve a quadruple-double.

In a total of 779 matches, Alvin Robertson amassed 2,112 steals, leaving an indelible mark on the NBA with his exceptional defensive skills and historic achievements.

12. Karl Malone

  • Team(s): Utah Jazz (1985–2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003–2004)
  • Total Steals: 2,085
  • Games Played: 1,476
  • Average: 1.41

Karl Malone, 12th in NBA steals, known as “the Mailman,” is a revered power forward. Spending 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz, he formed a legendary duo with John Stockton. With two MVP awards, 14 All-Star selections, and 11 All-NBA first-team honors, Malone’s 36,928 points rank third in NBA history. He played a pivotal role in the Jazz’s playoff runs, reaching the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998.

NBA All-time Point Scorers
Image Source: Instagram

Malone, a standout at Louisiana Tech, entered the NBA in 1985 and retired in 2004 after a final season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He contributed to Team USA’s gold medals in 1992 and 1996. Recognized in the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams, Malone was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010 for his individual career and as part of the 1992 Olympic team.

In 1,476 matches, Karl Malone recorded 2,085 steals, leaving an enduring legacy as one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

13. Mookie Blaylock

  • Team(s): New Jersey Nets (1989–1992), Atlanta Hawks (1992–1999), Golden State Warriors (1999–2002)
  • Total Steals: 2,075
  • Games Played: 889
  • Average: 2.33

Mookie Blaylock, ranking 13th in NBA steals, was the 12th overall pick in the 1989 draft, chosen by the New Jersey Nets. After a quick adjustment to the Nets’ rotation, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks before the 1992–93 season, thriving under coach Lenny Wilkens.

Image Source: NBA.COM

Blaylock’s impact was profound during his seven-year stint with the Hawks, leading in career three-pointers and steals. His excellence earned him a spot in the 1994 NBA All-Star Game.

Subsequently traded to the Golden State Warriors, he concluded his career as a reserve. Blaylock amassed a total of 2,075 steals in 889 matches, solidifying his legacy as a defensive stalwart in NBA history.

14. Allen Iverson

  • Team(s): Philadelphia 76ers (1996–2006, 2009–2010), Denver Nuggets (2006–2008), Detroit Pistons (2008–2009), Memphis Grizzlies (2009)
  • Total Steals: 1,983
  • Games Played: 914
  • Average: 2.17

Allen Iverson, 14th in NBA steals, had a stellar 14-season career. Known as “the Answer,” he was a dynamic guard, winning Rookie of the Year (1997), NBA MVP (2001), and earning 11 All-Star selections. His college stint at Georgetown was illustrious, setting scoring records.

Image Source: NBA.COM

Drafted first overall by the 76ers in 1996, Iverson’s impact was massive, becoming a four-time scoring champion. His career included stops at the Nuggets, Pistons, and Grizzlies. A key figure in the 2001 NBA Finals, he won a bronze at the 2004 Olympics.

Iverson totaled 1,983 steals in 914 games, leaving a lasting legacy as one of the NBA’s greatest scorers.

15. Derek Harper

  • Team(s): Dallas Mavericks (1983–1994, 1996–1997), New York Knicks (1994–1996), Orlando Magic (1997–1998), Los Angeles Lakers (1999)
  • Total Steals: 1,957
  • Games Played: 1,199
  • Average: 1.63

Derek Harper, ranked 15th in NBA steals, had a notable 16-season career as a point guard, playing for teams like the Mavericks, Knicks, Magic, and Lakers.

Image Source: NBA.COM

Despite being considered one of the best players never selected to an All-Star game, Harper’s impact was significant.

With a total of 1,957 steals in 1,199 matches, he left a lasting mark on the league.

16. Kobe Bryant

  • Team(s): Los Angeles Lakers (1996–2016)
  • Total Steals: 1,944
  • Games Played: 1,346
  • Average: 1.44

Kobe Bryant, the 16th-ranked player in NBA history for steals, had an illustrious 20-year career exclusively with the Los Angeles Lakers. As a shooting guard, he achieved unparalleled success, securing five NBA championships and earning recognition with 18 All-Star selections, 15 All-NBA Team memberships, and the prestigious 2008 NBA MVP title. Bryant’s impact extended beyond his scoring prowess; his defensive skills contributed to his tally of 1,944 steals in 1,346 matches.

NBA All-time Point Scorers
Image Source: Instagram

Despite his on-court achievements, Bryant faced personal challenges, notably the 2003 sexual assault allegations that briefly tarnished his reputation. The criminal charges were dropped, and a civil suit was settled out of court. Bryant publicly apologized and acknowledged a consensual encounter. His resilience and dedication to the game propelled him to further success, leading the Lakers to consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010. In 2016, he retired as a Lakers legend, with both his jersey numbers, 8 and 24, being retired in his honor.

Tragically, Kobe Bryant’s legacy was marked by a devastating helicopter crash in 2020, claiming his life, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others. The basketball community mourned the loss of an icon, and tributes poured in, solidifying his everlasting impact on the sport.

17. Isiah Thomas

  • Team(s): Detroit Pistons (1981–1994
  • Total Steals: 1,861
  • Games Played: 979
  • Average: 1.90

Isiah Thomas, holding the 17th spot in the NBA’s All-Time Steals ranking, had a remarkable career that spanned both playing and coaching. A 12-time NBA All-Star, Thomas spent his entire playing career with the Detroit Pistons, leading the “Bad Boys” to back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. His exceptional skills on the court earned him a spot on the NBA’s 50th and 75th-anniversary teams and induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Image Source: NBA

Beyond his playing days, Thomas ventured into coaching and executive roles. He coached teams like the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks from 2000 to 2012. Thomas also contributed to the growth of basketball as an executive with the Toronto Raptors, a television commentator, and a leader in the Continental Basketball Association.

Notably, he served as the head coach for the Florida International University (FIU) Golden Panthers from 2009 to 2012. In addition, Thomas was involved with the New York Liberty, the WNBA sister team of the Knicks, serving as a president and part owner from 2015 to 2019. Throughout his multifaceted basketball career, Isiah Thomas amassed a total of 1,861 steals in 1,861 matches.

18. Kevin Garnett

  • Team(s): Minnesota Timberwolves (1995–2007, 2015–2016), Boston Celtics (2007–2013), Brooklyn Nets (2013–2015)
  • Total Steals: 1,859
  • Games Played: 1,462
  • Average: 1.27

Kevin Garnett, securing the 18th position in the NBA’s All-Time Steals ranking, is celebrated as one of the greatest power forwards in basketball history. Known by the nicknames KG and the “Big Ticket” for his athleticism and emphatic dunking, Garnett’s career highlights include winning both the NBA Most Valuable Player Award and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, a feat achieved by only five players as of 2020. Drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995, Garnett made an immediate impact, leading the team to eight consecutive playoff appearances and earning accolades like the NBA MVP in 2004 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2007–08.

NBA All-time Point Scorers
Image Source: Instagram

In a transformative move in 2007, Garnett joined the Boston Celtics, contributing to their 2008 NBA Finals victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. His illustrious career included 15 All-Star Game selections, an All-Star MVP in 2003, nine All-NBA Team nods, and 12 NBA All-Defensive Team honors.

Garnett, recognized for his franchise records with the Timberwolves, was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013 and later returned to Minnesota in 2015 before retiring in 2016. The basketball icon was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020 and featured on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021, accumulating a total of 1,859 steals in 1,462 matches.

19. Russell Westbrook

  • Team(s): Oklahoma City Thunder (2008–2019), Houston Rockets (2019–2020), Washington Wizards (2020–2021), Los Angeles Lakers (2021–2023), Los Angeles Clippers (2023–present)
  • Total Steals: 1,800
  • Games Played: 1,111
  • Average: 1.62

Russell Westbrook, ranking 19th in All-Time Steals, is a dynamic point guard known for his competitiveness and versatility. Debuting in 2008, he starred with the Oklahoma City Thunder for 11 seasons, reaching the NBA Finals in 2012 and earning the 2016–17 MVP.

Image Source: NBA.COM

Westbrook, a nine-time NBA All-Star, holds the all-time record for career triple-doubles, showcasing remarkable skills in scoring, rebounding, and durability. His journey includes stints with the Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Los Angeles Clippers.

With 1,800 steals in 1,111 matches, Westbrook has made a lasting impact on the league’s history.

20. Andre Iguodala

  • Team(s): Philadelphia 76ers (2004–2012), Denver Nuggets (2012–2013), Golden State Warriors (2013–2019, 2021–2023), Miami Heat (2020–2021)
  • Total Steals: 1,765
  • Games Played: 1,231
  • Average: 1.43

Andre Iguodala, securing the 20th spot in All-Time Steals, is a versatile swingman renowned for his defensive prowess. An NBA All-Star in 2012, he claimed two NBA All-Defensive Team selections.

Image Source: NBA.COM

Iguodala played a pivotal role in the Golden State Warriors’ success, winning four NBA championships and earning the NBA Finals MVP in 2015. His college journey with the Arizona Wildcats set the stage for a successful NBA career, commencing with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2004.

Throughout his career, Iguodala showcased his adaptability, transitioning from a starter to a key reserve while maintaining impactful contributions. With 1,765 steals in 1,231 matches, he has left an enduring mark on the league’s defensive legacy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top