The Decade's Best: Steals from 2010 to 2020

Jun 08, 2020 by Print

Steals don't get a whole lot of attention, but maybe they should. Unlike higher-profile blocks, each and every steal is a change of possession, and as such, a potential swing on the scoreboard of up to six points. More often, that's a four- or five-point swing because many steals are converted quickly into fastbreak dunks that thrill fans. But even when they don't turn into points, steals delay the opposing team from scoring and lessen the time and energy a team spends on playing defense. As such, the humble steal is a true "payoff" play at the defensive end of the court.

Nick Calathes might be best known as an assists machine, but the Panathinaikos OPAP Athens star has been quite a defensive resource, as well. His 281 steals during the 2010s is a whopping 46 more than the next-best player, Rudy Fernandez. Despite ranking just 22nd over the decade in games played, with 192 appearances, Calathes outdid the rest of the field in steals by a wide margin between 2010 and 2020.

Jamon Gordon played six EuroLeague seasons with five different teams. He started last decade with Maroussi of Athens, proceeded to another Greek team, Olympiacos, and then went on to dress for three Istanbul teams: Galatasaray, Efes and Darussafaka, all before 2016. Over that span, Gordon was the most consistent pickpocket in EuroLeague history. He never averaged fewer than 1.6 steals and had a career-best 2.0 in the 2013-14 campaign with Efes. Over 205 total appearances, he was good for a 1.8 average, better than any other player last decade.

Last decade's best single-game steals performance belonged to Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Yogev Ohayon. Months after winning the EuroLeague title in 2014, Ohayon went out to collect a staggering 8 steals in a regular season 73-79 road win against Limoges CSP. It was not only the most steals in a single-game this decade, but stands tied for sixth-most in competition history and for the most in any single game since 2007.

When it comes to consistency over one season, no one last decade came close to Chuck Eidson. Playing the 2010-11 season for Maccabi, the versatile forward averaged 2.6 steals over 22 games while helping to lead his team to the 2011 Championship Game. Eidson had 6 steals in his team's semifinal win over Real Madrid, the second-highest total in a Final Four game this century, and finished with 58 for the season. Charles Jenkins ranks second with a 2.1-steal average in the 2016-17 season, which is when he set the record for the most total steals in a single season, 62.