HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Much like the debate that goes on every year regarding the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award, selecting a Defensive Player of the Year is an exercise based largely on the subjectivity of the voters.
Without a clear-cut set of statistical markers a player can reach to solidify his case, the issue is left to the discretion of those with ballots. And that means 2.4 blocks per game by one player might be seen as defensive prowess while 2.4 blocks per game by another player are simply digits and a decimal attached to a name and little else.
NBA.com’s Shaun Powell had to try to make sense of the minutiae while crafting his ballot, which includes a list of the expected names (Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, LeBron James and Serge Ibaka). But instead of riding with the obvious and incumbent choice, Howard, Shaun went in a different direction:
Is it possible to be the team MVP when Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudamire wear the same uniform? If so, then Chandler’s that guy. The Knicks didn’t become a better team until they took a cue from their center and began to make defense a priority.
Chandler is indispensable because he means so much defensively. He bails out teammates, starts the break and does what others cannot do or will not do. He ranks in the top 20 in rebounds per game (10.0, ninth), rebounds (607, 11th), blocks per game (1.44, 18th) and blocks (88, 16th).
“Tyson is our anchor,” Anthony said. “He gets us going.”
TNT’s David Aldridge picked Serge Ibaka as his winner, giving the nod to the league’s shot-blocking king rather than the incumbent. He makes the case for Ibaka:
At any rate, Ibaka has already surpassed his block total from all of last season despite playing nearly 200 fewer minutes. He leads the league in swats (3.6), but it’s not just the rejections that make him the league’s standard-bearer. His intimidation factor is close to Howard’s, and the Thunder have become tougher to score on in the paint. (OKC has improved from 13th to eighth in defensive efficiency, even more impressive considering the Thunder are sixth overall in pace, meaning they have more possessions per game than most teams.)
If the award went to the most versatile defender, James would get our nod. He’s the only player on the ballot capable of guarding all five positions on the floor (depending who the opposing team’s center is at any given time).