The NBA steals are the most impressive defensive plays in the game. They are the most difficult plays to make, and if you make them, it is one of the most memorable moments in basketball. The most talented players in the game make them, but they are also made by players who are not talked about (at least not enough).

Every NBA team is looking to find their own star steal. These are the players who sneakily find ways to make themselves known to the fans and scouts of NBA teams. The players who make the roster as role players and work their way up to become stars. In this article, we are talking about the top 10 NBA steals and steal leaders of all time.

What is the NBA Steal?

The NBA steals are among the most exciting plays in the game. They are the ballhandler pushing the ball up the court for a fast break or getting loose for a drive to the basket. Many of these plays came from the defense of the defender who steals the ball. In the NBA, steals are a form of entertainment and a staple of the game. It is a great way to entertain the fans and keep them on the edge of their seats. It can be a great way to beat your opponent or a great way to give your team a boost.

Top 10 Steals of the 2013 NBA Finals

Top 10 NBA Steals of All Time

The top ten NBA steals are definitely ones that I want to remember. I think that these are the top steals because of the way that the steal was executed, or because of who made the steal.

Top 10 NBA Clutch Steals Of All Time

List of the Top 10 NBA Steals Leaders of All Time

We all know that LeBron James is the best basketball player ever, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best at stealing the ball. In fact, out of the NBA’s all-time top steals leaders, only a few players belong to a team.

Who are the top 10 steals in NBA history? What’s even more surprising is that the top 10 steals leaders have been stars from the 1970s to the 1990s, with the majority of them being from the 1980s.

Here are the top 10 steals in NBA history in different categories:

Top 10 Career Steals NBA

Top 10 Career Steals NBA

From the time that the NBA began, in 1946, the game of basketball has evolved to become one of the most popular sports in the world. However, the game of basketball has also evolved in another way, particularly in the NBA, in the last seventy years, the game has become more of a game of individual statistics, than of team statistics. Who has the most career steals in the NBA?

Here is a list of the top 10 career steals in the NBA:

John Stockton
John Stockton

1. John Stockton, Point Guard – 3,265 Steals

John David Stockton is considered one of the best point guards of all time, holding the NBA records for most career steals. Born on 26th March 1962, John played for the Utah Jazz from 1984 until 2003. In his career, he played a total of 1,504 games to steal 3,265.

  • Team: Utah Jazz (1984–2003)
  • Games: 1,504
  • Average: 2.17 steals per game

Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd

2. Jason Kidd, Point Guard – 2,684 Steals

I’ve been a fan of Jason Kidd since his days with the Dallas Mavericks. He’s a tough, gritty player who always keeps his team in the game. His ability to get steals is one of the best in the league. This piece of memorabilia is a great way to celebrate him and all he has accomplished. He has 2,684 career steals in 1,391 games, which is one of the NBA steals leaders. I really like his all-around game and he is always hustling on the court.

  • Team: Dallas Mavericks (1994–1996, 2008–2012), Phoenix Suns (1996–2001), New Jersey Nets (2001–2008), New York Knicks (2012–2013)
  • Games: 1,391
  • Average: 1.93 steals per game

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan

3. Michael Jordan, Shooting guard – 2,514 Steals

Michael Jordan is one of the NBA Steals Leaders of all time with a total of 2,514 career Steals in just 1072 games. We love how he always tries to get the ball from the other team. He is so brave.

  • Team: Chicago Bulls (1984–1993, 1995–1998), Washington Wizards (2001–2003)
  • Games: 1,072
  • Average: 2.35 steals per game

Gary Payton
Gary Payton

4. Gary Payton, Point guard – 2,445 Steals

Gary Payton is one of the best NBA players to ever play the game. His 2,445 career steals in 1335 games are a testament to his ability to get into passing lanes and disrupt plays. He has a knack for getting into the head of opponents and making them second guess their every move. He is also a smart point guard who can anticipate plays and help teammates by calling out screens and switches.

  • Team: Seattle SuperSonics (1990–2003), Milwaukee Bucks (2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003–2004), Boston Celtics (2004–2005), Miami Heat (2005–2007)
  • Games: 1,335
  • Average: 1.83 steals per game

Chris Paul
Chris Paul

5. Chris Paul, Point guard – 2,344 Steals

Chris Paul is a Point guard and one of the top NBA steals leaders of all time with 2,344 career Steals in 1096 games. He has been an All-Star 11 times and has been named to the All-NBA First Team 4 times. He has led his team to the playoffs every year he’s been in the league.

  • Team: New Orleans Hornets (2005–2011), Los Angeles Clippers (2011–2017), Houston Rockets (2017–2019), Oklahoma City Thunder (2019–2020), Phoenix Suns (2020–present)
  • Games: 1,096
  • Average: 2.14 steals per game

Maurice Cheeks
Maurice Cheeks

6. Maurice Cheeks, Point guard – 2,310 Steals

Maurice Cheeks is one of the best point guards in the NBA, holding the NBA records for most career steals. Born on 8th September 1956, Maurice Edward Cheeks last played for the New Jersey Nets in 1993. In his career, he played a total of 1101 games to steal 2310.

  • Team: Philadelphia 76ers (1978–1989), San Antonio Spurs (1989–1990), New York Knicks (1990–1991), Atlanta Hawks (1991–1992), New Jersey Nets (1993)
  • Games: 1,101
  • Average: 2.10 steals per game

Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen

7. Scottie Pippen, Small forward – 2,307 Steals

Scottie Pippen is a steal leader of the NBA. I am not the only one who thinks so either. He has been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team 8 times and has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team 2 times. This is an amazing feat for someone who played his entire career with Michael Jordan. He was also an Olympic Gold Medalist in 1992 and 1996. He was a small forward and one of the top NBA leaders with 2,307 career Steals in 1178 games. He is also one of the few players to have won six NBA titles.

  • Team: Chicago Bulls (1987–1998, 2003–2004), Houston Rockets (1999), Portland Trail Blazers (1999–2003)
  • Games: 1,178
  • Average: 1.96 steals per game

Clyde Drexler
Clyde Drexler

8. Clyde Drexler, Shooting guard – 2,207 Steals

Clyde Drexler was an incredible player. He could shoot, he could steal, and he could do a lot of other things too. I loved watching him play because he always seemed to be in control of the game. I think Clyde Drexler is the best shooting guard in NBA history.

Clyde Drexler is one of the top NBA steals leaders in NBA history with 2207 career Steals in 1,086 games. He was a member of the 1995 NBA Champion Houston Rockets. Clyde is a shooting guard who can also play small forward. He was a 10-time NBA All-Star and a two-time All-NBA second team member.

  • Team: Portland Trail Blazers (1983–1995), Houston Rockets (1995–1998)
  • Games: 1,086
  • Average: 2.03 steals per game

Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon

9. Hakeem Olajuwon, Center – 2,162 Steals

Hakeem Olajuwon was the greatest Center to ever play the game of basketball. He had an unstoppable inside game and was a great shooter from the outside. His patented move, the “Dream Shake,” is still one of the most devastating moves in basketball today. Hakeem Olajuwon was also a great defensive player and was always able to get his hands on the ball.

Abdul Olajuwon is one of the top NBA steals leaders with 2,162 career Steals in 1238 games. He was drafted 1st overall by the Houston Rockets in 1984 and went on to win two NBA championships with them. He is also a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • Team: Houston Rockets (1984–2001), Toronto Raptors (2001–2002)
  • Games: 1,238
  • Average: 1.75 steals per game

Alvin Robertson
Alvin Robertson

10. Alvin Robertson, Shooting guard – 2,112 steals

Alvin Robertson’s steal numbers are incredible. He is one of the best defensive players in NBA history and has never been recognized for it. He was drafted by San Antonio Spurs in 1984. Robertson was an incredible defender who had over 2112 career steals in 779 games.

  • Team: San Antonio Spurs (1984–1989), Milwaukee Bucks (1989–1993), Detroit Pistons (1993), Toronto Raptors (1995–1996)
  • Games: 779
  • Average: 2.71 steals per game

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Top 10 NBA Playoff Steals Leaders

The NBA playoff season is heating up which means that steals are coming in spades. Here are the top 10 thefts leaders with LeBron James topping the list with 454 playoff steals.

1. LeBron James, Power Forward (2003 – Present)

  • Playoff Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Total Steals: 454
  • Games: 266
  • Average Steals Per Game: 1.7

2. Scottie Pippen, Small forward (1987–2004, 2008)

  • Playoff Teams: Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers
  • Total Steals: 395
  • Games: 208
  • Average Steals Per Game: 1.9

3. Michael Jordan, Shooting guard (1984 – 2003)

  • Playoff Team: Chicago Bulls
  • Total Steals: 376
  • Games: 179
  • Average Steals Per Game: 2.1

4. Magic Johnson, Point guard (1979 – 2000)

  • Playoff Team: Los Angeles Lakers
  • Total Steals: 358
  • Games: 190
  • Average Steals Per Game: 1.9

5. John Stockton, Point guard (1984 – 2003)

  • Playoff Team: Utah Jazz
  • Total Steals: 338
  • Games: 182
  • Average Steals Per Game: 1.9

6. Kobe Bryant, Shooting guard (1996 – 2016)

  • Playoff Team: Los Angeles Lakers
  • Total Steals: 310
  • Games: 220
  • Average Steals Per Game: 1.4

7. Jason Kidd, Point guard (1994 – 2013)

  • Playoff Teams: Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks
  • Total Steals: 302
  • Games: 158
  • Average Steals Per Game: 1.9

8. Larry Bird, Small forward / Power forward (1989 – 1992)

  • Playoff Team: Boston Celtics
  • Total Steals: 296
  • Games: 164
  • Average Steals Per Game: 1.8

9. Maurice Cheeks, Point guard (1978 – 1993)

  • Playoff Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets
  • Total Steals: 295
  • Games: 133
  • Average Steals Per Game: 2.2

10. Manu Ginóbili, Shooting guard (1995 – 2018)

  • Playoff Team: San Antonio Spurs
  • Total Steals: 292
  • Games: 218
  • Average Steals Per Game: 1.3

List of the Top 10 NBA Single-Game Steals Leaders

1. Larry Kenon (San Antonio Spurs) – 11 Steals

  • Opponent: Kansas City Kings
  • Date: 26th December 1976

2. Kendall Gill (New Jersey Nets) – 11 Steals

  • Opponent: Miami Heat
  • Date: 3rd April 1999

3. Alvin Robertson (San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks) – 10 Steals, 4 times

  • Opponent: Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, and Utah Jazz
  • Date: 18th February 1986; 22nd November 1986; 11th January 1989; and 19th November 1990

4. Jerry West (Los Angeles Lakers) – 10 Steals

  • Opponent: Seattle SuperSonics
  • Date: 7th December 1973

5. Larry Steele (Portland Trail Blazers) – 10 Steals

  • Opponent: Los Angeles Lakers
  • Date: 16th November 1974

6. Fred Brown (Seattle SuperSonics) – 10 Steals

  • Opponent: Philadelphia 76ers
  • Date: 3rd December 1976

7. Gus Williams (Seattle SuperSonics) – 10 Steals

  • Opponent: New Jersey Nets
  • Date: 22nd February 1978

8. Eddie Jordan (New Jersey Nets) – 10 Steals

  • Opponent: Philadelphia 76ers
  • Date: 23rd March 1979

9. Johnny Moore (San Antonio Spurs) – 10 Steals

  • Opponent: Indiana Pacers
  • Date: 6th March 1985

10. Lafayette “Fat” Lever (Denver Nuggets) – 10 Steals

  • Opponent: Indiana Pacers
  • Date: 9th March 1985

List of the Top 10 NBA Annual Steals Leaders in NBA History

RankingPlayerTimes leaderYears and Steals
1Chris Paul
New Orleans Hornets (3) and Los Angeles Clippers (3)
6 Times2008: 217 steals
2009: 216 steals
2011: 188 steals
2012: 152 steals
2013: 169 steals
2014: 154 steals
2Allen Iverson
Team: Philadelphia 76ers
3 Times2001: 178 steals
2002: 168 steals
2003: 225 steals
3Michael Jordan
Team: Chicago Bulls
3 Times1988: 259 steals
1990: 227 steals
1993: 221 steals
4Micheal Ray Richardson
Teams: New York Knicks (1), Golden State Warriors (1), and New Jersey Nets (1)
3 Times1980: 265 steals
1983: 182 steals
1985: 243 steals
5Alvin Robertson
Teams: San Antonio Spurs (2) and Milwaukee Bucks (1)
3 Times1986: 301 steals
1987: 260 steals
1991: 246 steals
6Mookie Blaylock
Team: Atlanta Hawks
2 Times1997: 212 steals
1998: 183 steals
7Baron Davis
Teams: New Orleans Hornets (1) and Golden State Warriors (1)
2 Times2004: 158 steals
2007: 135 steals
8Magic Johnson
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2 Times1981: 127 steals
1982: 208 steals
9John Stockton
Team: Utah Jazz
2 Times1989: 263 steals
1992: 244 steals
10Don Buse
Team: Indiana Pacers
1 Time1977: 281 steals

Frequently Asked Questions of Top 10 NBA Steals

Has anyone had 10 steals in an NBA game?

Yes, it has. The most steals in an NBA game are 11 and it’s been done by Larry Kenon and Kendall Gill. This happened back on 26th December 1976 by Larry, and on 3rd April 1999 by Kendall. The NBA record for 10+ steals in a game is accomplished by 25 players.

Who has the most steal in NBA?

Point guard and passer, John Stockton of the Utah Jazz has the most steal in NBA history. He had 3265 steals in his NBA career from 1984 to 2003.

Who has the most steals in NBA 2021?

The player that leads the National Basketball Association in steals for the 2020-21 season is T.J. McConnell. He had 128 steals in 2020-21.

What are the most steals in one game?

The most steals in one game are 27, achieved by team Seattle SuperSonics on 15th January 1997 against Toronto Raptors.

Who holds the NBA record for steals?

John Stockton has the NBA record for steals with 3,265 during his career with the Utah Jazz.

Who has the most steals per game?

The leader in steals per game for the NBA is Alvin Robertson of the Florida Beach Dogs. His career average steals per game were 2.71.

Has Steph Curry led the league in steals?

Steph Curry (then named Stephen Curry) led the league in steals during the 2015-2016 season with 2.14 steals per game. In this season, he played 79 games and achieved 169 steals.

Who led NBA in steals?

Alvin Robertson had 301 steals in the 1985-86 NBA season, which was the most in the NBA that season. In this season, he played 82 games, and average steals were 3.67 per game. But Chris Paul was 6 seasons’ steals leader in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.

How many steals Does LeBron James have in his career?

LeBron James has 2,077 steals in his career. He played a total of 1316 games and averaged 1.57 steals per game.

In summary, the best NBA steal leaders must use their speed and anticipation to gain a solid defensive position on defense. They must be able to stay on the floor long enough to gain a good position around the basket and then move into a position to steal a ball or a pass. Given a chance, they must take advantage of opportunities from time to time, especially when they can do something spectacular.