2. Chuck Hayes
Chuck Hayes was a poor man’s Dennis Rodman, and it’s easy to see why. At 6-foot-6, Hayes was a bit undersized for a big man, much like the 6-foot-7 Rodman.
But he played much bigger than his physical stature, as he never backed down from defending the best big men across the league on a nightly basis. Hayes was thrown into the starting lineup during the 2006-07 season and he flashed his tenacious defensive ability.
Hayes finished 7th among big men in defensive box plus minus and finished 15th among big men in defensive win shares during that season. Yao Ming missed 32 straight games that year and the Rockets went 20-12 during that span, in large part because of Hayes. The Rockets won 52 games that season and ended up with the fifth seed, and Hayes’ contributions was a big reason why, as he finished sixth in the league in defensive rating.
During the 2007-08 season, Hayes finished 19th among big men in defensive win shares but led all players in defensive box plus minus. During that season, Yao missed 27 games and the Rockets went 19-8 in his absence, as Hayes took on the assignment of clamping down the opposition’s best post players, finishing third in defensive rating that season.
Hayes’ game was Rodman-esque in that he was undersized for a big man but was one of the best defenders despite giving up 4-6 inches to the league’s premier post players.
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