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The Last 40 Blocks Leaders: Hakeem Olajuwon And Mark Eaton Are Legendary Shot Blockers

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The Last 40 Blocks Leaders: Hakeem Olajuwon And Mark Eaton Are Legendary Shot Blockers

The offense in the NBA these days is at an all-time high, as teams are focusing on efficient ways of scoring a ton of points. Of course, we have some of the most spectacular offensive players of all time handling the ball, and getting buckets is the most attractive part of NBA basketball these days. With relaxed rules and encouraged spacing, teams are putting up a high number of points on a weekly basis.

For casual fans and even hardcore basketball fans, the modern NBA offense is very attractive to watch. But defense is slowly coming back because the NBA is tweaking the rules slightly to allow greater physicality and help defensive players make more of an impact. For big men that patrol the lanes, blocking shots is becoming a massive part of protecting the rim.

Looking back at the last 40 years, here are the blocks champions from 1981 until the 2021 season. Some names will appear more than once, and some other players managed to take offense to an entirely different level by creating plenty of chances for their teammates. Without further ado, here are the last 40 blocks champions in the NBA.


1981 - George Johnson - 3.4 BPG (San Antonio Spurs)

The San Antonio Spurs would build a dynasty built on defense not long after George Johnson led the NBA in blocks with a 3.4 BPG average in only 23.6 MPG. Despite only averaging 5.0 PPG and playing under 24 MPG, Johnson was a solid contributor on defense thanks to his 6’11” frame and high defensive IQ.


1982 - George Johnson - 3.1 BPG (San Antonio Spurs)

One season after leading the league in blocks, George Johnson averaged 3.1 BPG to lead the NBA in blocks again. The big man only averaged 3.0 PPG in only 21.0 MPG, and even appeared in 62 starts. Johnson was incredibly active in the paint, blocking weak shots around the rim and using his size to deter scorers from entering the lane freely.


1983 - Tree Rollins - 4.3 BPG (Atlanta Hawks)

Averaging at least 2.7 BPG per season the first 5 seasons of his career, Tree Rollins was clearly a gifted shot-blocker thanks to his 7’1” frame. The center averaged a whopping 4.3 BPG in 1983, starting all 80 games he played and doing it at 30.9 MPG. Rollins would also make the All-Defensive Second Team because his imposing presence made him an untouchable member for the Atlanta Hawks.


1984 - Mark Eaton - 4.3 BPG (Utah Jazz)

Mark Eaton is one of the most ferocious shot-blockers in NBA history, because his size was iconically a big part of his career. One of the three players in NBA history to ever lead the league in blocks 4 times, Eaton’s first came in the 1984 season averaging 4.3 BPG.


1985 - Mark Eaton - 5.6 BPG (Utah Jazz)

The 7’4” Eaton won Defensive Player of the Year, putting up a monster 5.6 BPG in 82 games during the 1985 season. The big man would kick off his second straight season leading the league in blocks and would do it two more times.


1986 - Manute Bol - 5.0 BPG (Washington Bullets)

Manute Bol is one of the most iconic players in NBA history because his incredible 7’7” height made him the tallest player in NBA history. Known for his incredible length and defensive impact, Manute Bol made an All-NBA Defensive Team and led the NBA in blocks in his rookie season.


1987 - Mark Eaton - 4.1 BPG (Utah Jazz)

Despite averaging under 8 PPG, Mark Eaton’s impact on the court came on the defensive end once again. The big man knew his limitations on the court and focused all of his efforts into protecting the rim and making sure his team got out on the break. Few players in NBA history did it better than the Utah Jazz legend.


1988 - Mark Eaton - 3.7 BPG (Utah Jazz)

For the 4th time, Mark Eaton averaged over 3 BPG to lead the NBA in blocks. The center would go on to play his entire career with the Utah Jazz, and would even make his first and only All-Star Team the following season after 1988. As a shot-blocker, Eaton has the case for being one of the all-time greats to ever do it.


1989 - Manute Bol - 4.3 BPG (Golden State Warriors)

For the second time in his career, Manute Bol led the league in blocks with an incredible 4.3 BPG average. The Sudanese center had incredible size (7’7”) of course, but it was his ability to react on defense that made him a ferocious shot-blocker. Bol had 8 seasons averaging over 2 BPG, and even if he was not an efficient scorer, Manute is one of the most impactful big men of his time.


1990 - Hakeem Olajuwon - 4.6 BPG (Houston Rockets)

Easily a top-5 center ever and one of the most impactful two-way players ever, Hakeem Olajuwon would lead the league in RPG for the second-straight time (14.0 RPG) while also leading the league in blocks (4.6 BPG). It is amazing how Olajuwon could score at an elite level (24.3 PPG) and also fortify the Rockets’ defense, indications of a top-12 player ever.


1991 - Hakeem Olajuwon - 3.9 BPG (Houston Rockets)

For the second straight season, “The Dream” would average 3.9 BPG while also chipping in 13.8 RPG. No center in the league could dominate the paint as great as Hakeem did in the early 1990s, because he was the full package as an athlete and defensive star. Olajuwon was a true leader because he was capable of stopping the best opponents in his position while also guiding the team’s off-ball defense.


1992 - David Robinson - 4.5 BPG (San Antonio Spurs)

“The Admiral” David Robinson was not only a dominant offensive player but was recognized as arguably a top-two big man in the NBA. Robinson averaged an incredible 4.5 BPG and 2.3 SPG during the 1992 season, which was enough for the center to win Defensive Player of the Year. The fact that Robinson averaged over 23 PPG 7 times in his career should not take away from the defensive ability of an 8-time All-Defensive Team performer.


1993 - Hakeem Olajuwon - 4.2 BPG (Houston Rockets)

For the 3rd time in 4 years, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon would lead the NBA in BPG with a 4.2 average. Putting up 26.1 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 4.2 BPG; Olajuwon was clearly building his case as an MVP player. Of course, the Rockets superstar would win the MVP the following season along with winning an NBA title.


1994 - Dikembe Mutombo - 4.1 BPG (Denver Nuggets)

Drafted No. 4 overall in the 1991 NBA Draft, almost everybody expected Dikembe Mutombo to have an immediate impact. The big man would make the All-Star Team in his rookie season and would go on to lead the league in blocks in his 3rd season in 1994. The center put up 4.1 BPG that year, making sure he protected the rim better than anyone in the NBA outside of Hakeem Olajuwon. Of course, Mutombo would go on to do it again.


1995 - Dikembe Mutombo - 3.9 BPG (Denver Nuggets)

In his second All-Star season, Dikembe Mutombo put up 3.9 BPG for the Denver Nuggets. With his infamous finger-wag, climbing Mt. Mutombo was almost impossible for any offensive player. Standing 7’2” with long arms and a powerful lower body, Mutombo was one of the greatest defensive players ever. The 1995 season was also the first time Mutombo won Defensive Player of the Year, as he would become one of two players ever (Ben Wallace) to capture that award 4 times.


1996 - Dikembe Mutombo - 4.5 BPG (Denver Nuggets)

In 1996, Nuggets star center Mutombo would make his 3rd All-Star season while putting up a career-high 4.5 BPG. He was at his usual best, swatting away shots in one-on-one situations and also while playing help defense. It is hard to remember a player that loved dominating defense like Mutombo, which is why the 3-time Blocks Champion is now in the esteemed Hall of Fame.


1997 - Shawn Bradley - 3.4 BPG (Dallas Mavericks)

Even if Shawn Bradley was not a star by any means, the big man was incredibly impactful as a defensive player due to his natural size. Standing 7’6” and weighing 235 lbs, Bradley averaged 4.0 BPG in 40 games with the New Jersey Nets before averaging 2.7 BPG in 33 games for the Dallas Mavericks. That means in 73 games, the German center averaged a league-leading 3.4 BPG in the best season of his career.


1998 - Marcus Camby - 3.7 BPG (Toronto Raptors)

Marcus Camby followed up his All-Rookie season by leading the league in blocks in only his second season. The big man was only 23 years old but averaged 3.7 BPG in 31.8 minutes of play. Camby did not need much time to settle into professional basketball, because his shot-blocking was an important part of his game early on.


1999 - Alonzo Mourning - 3.9 BPG (Miami Heat)

One of the greatest defensive centers in NBA history, Alonzo Mourning made 4 All-Star Teams before leading the league in BPG at 28 years old. The big man was a franchise star for the Miami Heat, and his legendary shot-blocking ability was on show during the 1999 season.


2000 - Alonzo Mourning - 3.7 BPG (Miami Heat)

One year after leading the NBA in BPG for the first time in his career, Mourning was at his best again in the 2000 season. Making his 5th All-Star Team, Mourning averaged 21.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 3.7 BPG. One of the greatest players in Miami Heat history would average 2.7 BPG in 11 seasons with the franchise, and his 2000 season was one of his best in terms of all-around defensive impact.


2001 - Theo Ratliff - 3.7 BPG (Philadelphia 76ers)

In his first and only All-Star season, Theo Ratliff is one of the most forgotten members of the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers squad that made the NBA Finals. Allen Iverson won league MVP and had his greatest career ever, but Ratliff’s shot-blocking and defensive impact was a major reason the 76ers were a force on the court. The big man fostered a career out of his all-time great shot-blocking, and the 76ers organization were certainly thankful for Ratliff’s production.


2002 - Ben Wallace - 3.5 BPG (Detroit Pistons)

A 4-time Defensive Player of the Year, 6-time All-Defensive Team performer, and Hall of Famer, Ben Wallace is considered one of the most dominant defensive players of all time. In his first season leading the league in rebounds (13.0 RPG), Wallace also led the league in BPG in his first and only time (3.5 BPG). Ben Wallace would have his impact pay off, as the Pistons would win the title 2 years later with the center holding the fort.


2003 - Theo Ratliff - 3.2 BPG (Atlanta Hawks)

For the second time in three years, Theo Ratliff led the league in blocks per game as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. Even if the big man averaged only 8.7 PPG, his shot-blocking was the reason he started 81 games out of 81 played. The center clearly had a gift for swatting shots, and he would lead the NBA in BPG the following season with his third team in 4 years.


2004 - Theo Ratliff - 3.6 BPG (Portland Trail Blazers)

Veteran Theo Ratliff found himself traded 53 games into the 2004 season to the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 4.4 BPG in 32 games with Portland. His total BPG average with the Hawks and Trail Blazers totaled 3.6 BPG, a great number for a 30-year-old trying to get acclimated with a new team. Due to his lack of flashy playing style, Ratliff went unnoticed but he was an impactful defensive player.


2005 - Andrei Kirilenko - 3.3 BPG (Utah Jazz)

A Swiss-Army Knife defensive player that stood 6’9” with tremendous length and athleticism, Andrei Kirilenko was a dominant player for the Utah Jazz. The Russian forward averaged over 2 BPG the previous 2 seasons, but his best came in 2005 when he put up an incredible 3.3 BPG at only 23 years old. A 3-time All-Defensive Team performer, Kirilenko is one of the most underrated defenders of his generation.


2006 - Marcus Camby - 3.3 BPG (Denver Nuggets)

Marcus Camby won his first Defensive Player of the Year award in 1998, but he would kick off 3 wins in a row starting in 2006. The big man had height (6’11”) and length but was incredibly active at helping on the weak side to come up with blocks. One on one, Camby was also proficient at contesting shots and blocking his opponents.


2007 - Marcus Camby - 3.3 BPG (Denver Nuggets)

For the third time in his career, Marcus Camby led the league in BPG with 3.3 and made it look as effortless as possible. His partnership with Kenyon Martin was effective on the interior, and the center was once again the most dominant rim protector in the league. Not to mention, Camby would go on to win Defensive Player of the Year.


2008 - Marcus Camby - 3.6 BPG (Denver Nuggets)

Marcus Camby became only the third player in NBA history (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mark Eaton) to lead the league in blocks 4 times. In an incredible feat, Camby averaged 3.6 BPG and 13.1 RPG during the season. Averaging over 3 BPG for three straight seasons is no easy feat, but Camby would make it look easy.


2009 - Dwight Howard - 2.9 BPG (Orlando Magic)

Dwight Howard is one of the most underrated stars in NBA history because the center is currently a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year with 2 blocks titles. The first came in 2009 when he led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals, and the center had a sensational regular season. Howard averaged 20.6 PPG, a league-leading 13.8 RPG, and a league-leading 2.9 BPG. One year later, he would do it again.


2010 - Dwight Howard - 2.8 BPG (Orlando Magic)

For the second-straight season, Dwight Howard led the NBA in rebounds and blocks. The Orlando Magic superstar averaged 18.3 PPG, 13.2 RPG, and 2.8 BPG. The big man lacked a consistent offensive game, but his presence as an interior defender and weak-side shot-blocker was invaluable for his team. Howard would begin to solidify himself as an all-time great defensive player at that time, and that is why he will end up in the Hall of Fame.


2011 - Andrew Bogut - 2.6 BPG (Milwaukee Bucks)

One year after making an All-NBA Team and averaging 2.5 BPG, Andrew Bogut would lead the league in blocks by putting up 2.6 BPG in 35.3 MPG. The Australian center was certainly imposing on the court because his raw size and strength made him an immovable force for the Milwaukee Bucks. The big man would struggle with injuries for the majority of his career afterward, but at least he showed glimpses of stardom on defense when healthy.


2012 - Serge Ibaka - 3.7 BPG (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Serge “Iblaka” averaged an incredible 3.7 BPG in 2012, the same season the Oklahoma City Thunder made the NBA Finals. The Congolese big man was sensational on defense, blocking weak shots around the rim and playing the best help defense in the league. The Thunder were so confident that Ibaka would be a valuable player for them, that they were willing to give up future MVP James Harden to keep him.


2013 - Serge Ibaka - 3.0 BPG (Oklahoma City Thunder)

A 3-time All-Defensive Team performer, Serge Ibaka would lead the league in blocks for the second straight year as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Serge averaged 13.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 3.0 BPG to lead all shot-blockers. Ibaka would average career-highs in PPG and RPG, and his blocks average was certainly impressive for a 23-year-old.


2014 - Anthony Davis - 2.8 BPG (New Orleans Pelicans)

In only his second NBA season, Anthony Davis would make his first All-Star season after making the All-Rookie Team and averaging 1.8 BPG. The big man averaged 20.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and 12.8 BPG. The Pelicans were extremely fortunate to have the best shot-blocker in the league at only 20 years old because the superstar player would continue being a dominant defensive player for them.


2015 - Anthony Davis - 2.9 BPG (New Orleans Pelicans)

For the second-straight year, Anthony Davis led the NBA in blocks per game at 2.9 BPG. The New Orleans Pelicans superstar proved to be one of the most dominant bigs in the world yet again, owning the paint and using his versatility to stay with guards and forwards when necessary. The superstar power forward/center would lead the league in blocks 3 times, the second coming in 2015.


2016 - Hassan Whiteside - 3.7 BPG (Miami Heat)

Hassan Whiteside had a breakout season in 2016, taking his numbers from 11.8 PPG and 10.0 RPG to 14.2 PPG and 11.8 RPG. The big man also led the NBA in blocks with 3.7 BPG and made his first and only All-Defensive Team. Starting a career-high 43 games, Whiteside used his fantastic season to start building a reputation as one of the best defenders in the NBA. Of course, the big man would go on to sign a $98 million deal.


2017 - Rudy Gobert - 2.6 BPG (Utah Jazz)

Rudy Gobert is one of the most dominant defensive players of his generation because the Frenchman combines size and length with incredible defensive IQ. The big man is a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year for good reason because he is a force around the rim. The Utah Jazz are a very good team, but they would not be a playoff contender without Gobert on the floor.


2018 - Anthony Davis - 2.6 BPG (New Orleans Pelicans)

For the 3rd time in 5 years, Anthony Davis led the league in blocks at 2.6 BPG. As a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, the big man was an MVP-caliber star after averaging 28.1 PPG, 11.1 RPG, and 2.6 BPG. Davis solidified himself as one of the best defensive big men in the NBA because he had the speed and length to stay with players inside and outside the paint. AD has yet to average the league in blocks since 2018, which means he could be due for his 4th blocks title.


2019 - Myles Turner - 2.7 BPG (Indiana Pacers)

In only his 4th NBA season, Myles Turner put up 2.7 BPG in 28.6 MPG while starting all 74 of the games he played. The big man kickstarted a run of shot-blocking because for 4 straight years including the 2019 season, Turner averaged over 2.0 BPG. The Pacers have been difficult to score on, and Myles Turner is a big part of that.


2020 - Hassan Whiteside - 2.9 BPG (Portland Trail Blazers)

Even if Hassan Whiteside is not able to find a long-term home in the NBA, his defensive ability is truly great. The 7’0” veteran led the league in blocks for the second time in his career, putting up 2.9 BPG in 30.0 MPG for the Portland Trail Blazers. Even if Whiteside does not play much anymore, his shot-blocking is elite.


2021 - Myles Turner - 3.4 BPG (Indiana Pacers)

For the second time in three years, Indiana Pacers center led the NBA in blocks per game. Turner has been on the trade market for a few years, even if his defensive impact is undeniably great. Turnover averaged the highest BPG number since the 2016 mark set by Hassan Whiteside and is undisputedly the best shot-blocker in the league right now. 

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