Summer Dreaming: Defensive Player Of Year

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HANG TIME, Texas — These are the dog days of summer. They get their name from Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog), which long ago used to rise just before the sun at this time of year.

The Romans believed that during the dog days, the sea boiled, wine turned sour and dogs grew mad, causing diseases, fevers and hysterics among men.

Today we just see them as a reason to pop open another cold one and pop open our imaginations to look ahead and come up with the 2013-14 NBA award winners.

Today we’re celebrating the dog days by barking out my top candidates for Defensive Player of the Year. Send me yours.

Dwight Howard, Rockets — Assuming he’s healthy, assuming he’s happy, assuming he wants everyone to put the bad memory of last season with the Lakers in the rear view mirror, this is one race that should be no contest as Howard reestablishes himself in Houston to prove a point. With no pains in his back, shoulder and posterior (compliments of Kobe Bryant) to hold him back, the former three-time Defensive Player of the year takes control under the basket for the Rockets and lets the world know that he’s back. Yes, there is all the buzz and excitement about what Howard can do off the pick and roll with Jeremy Lin and James Harden at the offensive end. Yes, he’ll work with Hall of Fame tutor Hakeem Olajuwon to try to expand his post moves. Yes, he’ll get to see up close every day in practice from his coach how Kevin McHale carved out his place in the Hall of Fame with solid fundamentals. But if Howard just goes back to being the monster who used to roam the middle for the Magic, he’ll be worth every penny of his four-year, $88-million contract.

LeBron James, Heat — After four MVPs, back-to-back titles and a pair of Finals MVPs, what is there left for James to do to polish his legacy? Why not win MVP award No. 5 in the same year that he is named Defensive Player of the Year? It’s a feat accomplished previously only by Michael Jordan (1988) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994) and shows that level of greatness that James has achieved. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s quick and you don’t want to see his shadow coming from behind when you’re at mid-court with the ball and trying to get to the basket to finish. There are those who say he takes too many possessions off. There are those who criticize by saying he only gets the toughest defensive assignments in the fourth quarter. The truth is they are only picking nits, because that’s pretty much all that’s left to do. His competition now is strictly with the history books and if James decides to set his mind to being the best in the league at this end of the court, he could pull off the MVP-DPOY double.

Serge Ibaka, Thunder —  Three-time former winner of the award Dwight Howard said that it should have gone to Ibaka over Marc Gasol last season. His reasoning was that the guy who blocks the most shots is the best defender. Ibaka did set the pace with an average of 3.03 per game. The Thunder big man is clearly the best rejector in the league, at least and until Howard returns to form. In a league where quick, slashing guards are constantly trying to get to the hoop, rim protection is key for any would-be contender. But Ibaka really should improve on his help defense, rotations and overall court awareness in order to be considered the top defender in the league. For flash and the big block, Ibaka’s got everything but the Dikembe Mutombo finger-wave and that attracts the notice that will always have him among the top three on most ballots.

Tony Allen, Grizzlies — Teammate Marc Gasol received the votes, the notoriety and the award last season, but those closest to the Grizzlies and to inner workings of the game itself — i.e. head coaches — will tell you that it’s Allen who puts the real sharp edges and teeth into The Grind House. There is nobody in the league who relishes a 1-on-1 matchup more. He’s in your face, in your game, practically in your jersey, a nettle that becomes more painful and bothersome as the games get late. There is nobody who will throw himself into a defensive challenge more. If the Grizz are going to keep that defensive identity that was instilled in them by former coach Lionel Hollins, it’s probably going to be a result of Allen working the locker room, working the huddles and working his buns off on every defensive position. There is a reason that the league’s head coaches, who vote for the All-Defensive teams, gave Allen the highest number of first team votes, tying LeBron James.

Andre Iguodala, Warriors — If you were stitching together the ideal wing defender in a laboratory, the 6-foot-6 Iguodala with a 6-11 wingspan might be the product that would eventually climb down off the operating table. He gets plenty of credit for being one of — if not the best — on-ball defenders in the league with his size, speed and quickness. But that is also the end result of his excellent off-ball defense as he uses video study and his own sharp, calculating mind to deny players from getting the ball in positions where they want it in the first place. He understands angles, tendencies and rotations. Coach Mark Jackson has been preaching defense for two years with the Warriors and adding a ballhawk like Iguodala to a lineup that already includes Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson is going to produce turnovers, steals, transition buckets and a Defensive Player of the Year profile that could rise as the Warriors continue to improve.

PREVIOUSLY: Sixth Man of Year | Most Improved Player | Rookie Of Year

60 Comments

  1. DPOY says:

    The best defender? DPOY should be Westbrook for several years, he’s the only one who can prevent Kevin Durant from scoring :)

  2. Jimmy Buckets says:

    Take lebron out…insert Jimmy butler

  3. TheRealRayRay20 says:

    avery Bradley….. nuf said

  4. Bulldog 34 says:

    Defense is all about staying in front of your man and limit his scoring. Lebron gets most of his block from behind to cover up his mistakes on offense and defense. His man is constantly beating him off the dribble. How often do you see someone beating Avery Bradley or Kawhi Leonard off the dribble? I would never select a 7-footer as DPOY. Because, all they have to do is stand in the lane and block a shot. Point guards can do that. Lets judge DPOY by this criteria:
    Limiting your man to scoring 8-12 per game
    Steals
    How many times your man beat you off the dribble

  5. ROkY says:

    what about Tyson Chandler ?
    by the way this is also my first comment

  6. Dale Snitterman says:

    No Roy Hibbert???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    MEDIA MEMBER : Roy You finished only 10th in [Defensive] Player of the Year voting. How do you think that’s possible when you alter so many shots?” he was asked.

    HIBBERT: “I mean, you know what? Cuz y’all motherf—ers don’t watch us play throughout the year, to tell you the truth,” Hibbert said. “Alright? So that’s fine, you know. I’m going to be real with you, and I don’t care if I get fined. We play, we’re not on TV all the time. Reporters are the ones that are voting. It is what it is. And if I don’t make it, that’s fine. I’m still going to do what I have to do.”

  7. bhimz says:

    I dont consider Tony Allen as a potential Defender of the Year candidate anymore, with recent showing of his over-acting on the defense and offense to get the call. he’s turning to a Shane Battier flopper.

  8. Sammmmy says:

    Timmmmmmy

  9. Matt says:

    Serge Ibaka fo sho

  10. yadadada says:

    Are you kidding me with this list?? No Roy HIbbert????

  11. m. cunningham says:

    Jimmy Butler DPOY Enough said. Slamming down the microphone

  12. Christian says:

    kawhi leonard is the next elite perimeter defender

  13. Harvin says:

    Where’s Avery Bradley?

  14. Kellster says:

    I’m disappointed. First of all lebron James is the best player in the Nba but his defense is overrated. Serge ibaka shoud of had that award two years in a row. I’m a Knicks fan and the year Tyson chandler won I thought ibaka deserved it. And marc gasol is not much of a defensive threat they make him to be. And most of all why in the world is Larry Sanders not on this list??

    • Pakyaw says:

      Lebron always guard the best player opponent, especially on playoffs..,and u call his defense overrated?… gTFo!

  15. mac says:

    i dont get how marc gasol got DPOY but was 2nd team all nba defense

    • Hater4life! says:

      DPOY is selected by the media. Basically they just looked at the best defensive teams and then looked at stats. All nba defense is selected by coaches, making it a more accurate award for defensive ability

  16. Pay Attention says:

    To me Sanders needs to stay on the floor longer to get himself in contention for DPOY. He gets a lot of blocks but picks up so many fouls and stupid techs that it ruins his good work and leaves the team exposed.

    I agree with the guys who mentioned that both INDY/CHI have so many strong defensive players within a tight system that none of them have much of a chance to shine individually.

  17. Orasik says:

    Sanders is a good rim protector….But I guess, best defender protects rim and are very good on man-on-man defense. (LeBron)

  18. Orasik says:

    It’s not about blocks or steals. Best defender will not let you get the ball…and if you get, you just can’t shoot. You can block 5 shots, but if I score 30…those 5 shots are nothing. Sanders is too small (size)…he blocks, but in low post he’s weak. Best defenders are: LeBron, T.Allen, P.George, M.Gasol, Noah

  19. David M says:

    It’s gonna be Iman Shumpert

  20. tobeey says:

    watch out for derrick Favors of the Utah Jazz, who might be Most Improved and get a shot at DPOY

    • BigBoy says:

      true. no more millsap and Big Al. someone’s got to be ‘the guy’ for utah. there are a bunch a guys who could sneak up on DPOY

  21. J says:

    lebron james
    I think this could be the year (if not 2014 season then it’ll be 2015 season) he steps up his defensive game. think about it, he obviously is the best in nba right now all round but he’s not best D wise so right there is enough to make him want to make his defence better (yes he’s not the best offensively either but he doesn’t need to score 35 a game for his team to win and he’s not just a scorer) last year he stepped up his fg% and 3ptfg% to 56% and 40% respectively, so he’s even more monstrous at that end also he’s already a beast defensively so if he can step up his D like he stepped up his O he will be even better and be on the road to the greatest of all time.

  22. vamoserik88 says:

    You forgot to include “The Octopus” Kawhi Leonard. In my opinion he’ll be the underdog who’s goin’ to perform a a TOP level, and eventually win the award, this year.

  23. PP34 says:

    Avery Bradley anyone?
    the man is a defensive hound and was 2nd all defensive team last year (didn’t play till Feb). Back healthy at shooting guard & next to Rondo he must be considered

  24. Matt says:

    How Bogut as a dark horse on a reasonable defensive team, refer to Iggy section above. Health issues aside that is

  25. Pacer nation says:

    Roy Hibbert???!???!??!!?

  26. albbrk says:

    Under the Radar – Noah , Guy is a workhorse, improves every year and is he center of Chicago’s “D”
    – Larry Sanders . 2.8 bpg in under 30 minutes of playing time
    – Tyson Chandler ,2012 (DPOTY), If he Knicks want to contend with East teams their going to have to play “D”, and this is who it starts with
    – Anthony Davis . with a trio of guards in New Orleans lineup all the Pelicans need of AD is to return to his Kentucky days and have a block party
    – Avery Bradley . Best defensive pg in the game today

    • aaaaaa says:

      I don’t know if you can really consider Avery Bradley a point guard, but he is barely behind Tony Allen as best defensive guard (but is a better all around player) all together. He should definitely in the running for DPOY.

    • BigBoy says:

      i like what you said about ‘The Brow’ that is sick company (holiday, gordon, evans, anderson. that’s all the offense right there. it’s time for a Black Party. who’s invited? everyone

  27. renz_garnett says:

    kg

  28. Joey Hall says:

    why is everybody hating on joakim noah?!?!?!?
    is it because of his style? he’s the best defender in the NBA
    he can defend LeBron…yes i saw him do it this year (the best year of his career)
    he can block shots he’s the closest thing we have seen to a great defender since Ben Wallace and Dennis Rodman
    so much energy never stop c’mon stop watching highlights.
    the little things in basketball mean more that’s why the bulls had the best record B4 Rose got hurt
    so lebron blocked tiago splitter, Nate Robinson blocked Yao Ming so he’s the best defender???!!? hell no!

    • Pakyaw says:

      Noah can defend Lebron?.. Hahaha!..I don’t wanna take anything from Noah , he’s hardworking guy and only tough guy on his team(cough D rose)..but can guard Lebron?..pffftt!.. Be realistic

      • amitpal says:

        Come on boris diaw guarded lebron in the finals and dare I say did a good job because lebron had a hard time scoring on him. And I’m not lieing check the tape. I don’t know why majority of the nba is so dumb. The guy still stuggles to shoot jump shots conisistly. Give him space and back off. Dare him to beat u with a jumper. Mavs did it and were effective and spurs did it and were mostly effective.

      • Jake says:

        Did you not watch game 7? Lebron is completely different than he was against the Mavs and he showed that he can hit the jumber by scoring 37 in the final game! Diaw did a fairly good job guarding Lebron, but that is only because he had Duncan at the rim behind him. Same reason why Paul George did such a good job defending him, because he had Roy Hibbert to protect the rim behind him. And you cannot compare Noah to big Ben! Thats ridiculous to say they are even close to the same calibur of defender!
        I’m going with LBJ as Defensive player of the year. He’s the only player who can effectively guard each position. That and its one of the few achievements he hasn’t aquired so he’s gonna work harder for it. Both George and Hibbert will be high on the list depending on how much they improve this year. Pacers will be tough.

    • BIGMatta23 says:

      ^^ at least there are some people who know WTF they are talking about…!

    • chigchig says:

      Lebron spends every game on the other players best offensive player for stretches.. no matter the position he plays 1 – 5..

      joakim noah is a beast and definitely a future DPOY, but he aint a better on ball defender then lebron

      Roy Hibbert aswell
      i think the marc gasol win this year was a joke and the tyson chandler the year before that was also..
      neither of them got first team all defense

      • BigBoy says:

        agreed. how does that make sense winning DPOY and not a First Team All-Defense?? ironically chandler made 1st team next year but didn’t win DPOY. NBA is weird,

  29. lowstef says:

    Marc Gasol – somewhat out of the blue this season but you still need to acknowledge the defending “champion”
    Larry Sanders – he was second in blocks with (relatively) limited minutes, he is also second in blocks per 48. Being young, he could grow and improved in the other aspects of defense (pick-and-roll defense, help defense, team defense…)
    JaVale McGee – he actually lead the blocks-per-48 last seasons. And he is finally set to start and play consistently big minutes. If only he could grow up (and I don;t mean in size)…
    DeAndre Jordan – another one looking to grow. Already great at swatting the ball away, needs to work on the finer details. That USABasketball camp and a summer under Doc Rivers could do wonders for him. And he is projected to play more, as he will no longer have Kenyon Martin or Lamar Odom breathing down his neck.
    Roy Hibbert – there is a reason the Pacers kept him in games early in the season when his shooting % would’ve been shameful for a backup guard.
    Paul George – a younger Iguodala, the other reason why the Pacers had the best defense in the East.

    The Bulls have such a great team defense system and so many excellent defenders on the team (Noah, Deng, Butler, Gibson) that none of them really stands out enough to win the individual award.

    • The Prufessa says:

      First if all Hibbert isn’t a 2 guard. Secondly, Kenyon Martin never played with DeAndre Jordan.

      • NBA Lover says:

        He never said Hibbert is a 2 guard, he mentioned that his percentage were quite low, so low that even a bench guard who supposedly had bad percentages, (not necessarily but nevertheless), would have a higher percentage, It was for emphasis, I think he knows Hibbert is a center. During a short period in 2012 Kenyon Martin did infact play for the Clippers.

      • BigBoy says:

        for real?? First of all he neevr said Hib was a 2 guard. Secondly, Kenyon Martin played for Clips in 2012 and obviously DeAndre was on the team. it was the team Kenyon played on before new york. do you even pay attention? plz dont say random comments trying to act smart. Prufessa?? Prufessa of nothing.

    • BigBoy says:

      at 33yo and 35yo when they played on Clips, kenyon and lamar werent really threats to take the starting spot from deandre anyway. they gave him all that money for a reason. not to ride the bench late in a close 4th quarter so its on him to work on his FTs just a little bit,

  30. Brian Scalabrine says:

    I’m coming back to show these scrubs how real defense is played.

  31. No Larry Sanders?? He is the best rim protector in the league. Advanced stats show it.

  32. Ro says:

    Where’s the reigning DPOY? Oh wait, you agree that he shouldnt have won it either?! Haha