Summer Dreaming: D Player of the Year

Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka led the NBA in total blocks in 2013-14. (Richard Rowe/NBAE)

Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka led the NBA in total blocks in 2013-14. (Richard Rowe/NBAE)

There are so many different ways to fully embrace the dog days of summer. One is to fire up the grill and start cooking. Another is to keep that blender full of ice.

Here, we’re talking basketball. The season openers are still more than two months away, but it’s never too early to look ahead. So here are my Summer Dreaming choices for 2014-15 Defensive Player of the Year.

Send me your picks.

Serge Ibaka, Thunder — If you don’t think he’s a game-changer, then you weren’t paying attention last spring when the Serge Protector missed the first two games of the Western Conference finals and the Spurs were able to run a virtual lay-up line through the heart of the OKC defense. When Ibaka returned from a calf injury, all of a sudden it wasn’t so easy for Tony Parker and his friends to get to the basket and the series was quickly tied up 2-2. Ibaka protects the rim, contests jumpers and puts the bite into the Thunder. He’s continuing to blossom as an offensive force, but it’s his defense that is the glue of the Thunder. He led the league in total blocks for the fourth straight time last season and has been voted to the All-Defensive first team three years in a row. It’s finally his turn to get the big hardware.

Anthony Davis, Pelicans — Was it really fair to bring him into the league carrying comparisons to the legendary Bill Russell? Well, maybe if you watch the highlight video from last season. With coach Monty Williams taking the shackles off his playing time, A.D. showed many of the skills that made him the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. For all that he was able to do with the ball around the basket, it was the defensive plays that dropped your jaw to the floor. He guarded the paint. He cut off baseline drives. Davis seemed to swoop in from out of nowhere to reject even 3-point attempts from the corner. No place on the court was safe from the ballhawking shot-blocker. Now with rim-protecting center Omer Asik at his back, Davis might really cut loose challenging shots. That’s just scary.

Dwight Howard, Rockets – He practically owned this award, winning it three straight times from 2009-2011 in Orlando, but that was before everything went south with the Magic and he had to overcome back problems and questions about commitment to the game. Howard arrived for his first season in Houston fit and ready to re-establish himself. By the end of 2013-14 there were no more questions about his health and desire to get back to the old form. Howard’s 2.83 blocks per game led the league as he returned to being a stopper anyplace around the basket. He’s got 10 years of NBA experience but is still just 28. There’s no reason that the Rockets can’t count on him to be the defensive anchor in their push to be true contenders in the Western Conference.

Joakim Noah, Bulls — Defense can’t always be measured by numbers and quantified with stats. As the 2013-14 Defensive Player of the Year, Noah blocked just 1.4 shots per game. But he had a nose to go after every shot at the rim, was firm in guarding the pick-and-roll and with his sheer energy and physical force was as disruptive as a twister to any opposing offense. He’s hungry, he’s relentless, he’s challenging the ball anywhere on the court, he’s the epitome of the attitude that coach Tom Thibodeau wants and is at the heart of the Bulls defense that ranked No. 2 in the league last season. You can’t ever ignore Noah. He simply won’t let you.

DeAndre Jordan, Clippers – The Clippers’ big man got special attention from the boss in coach Doc Rivers’ first season in L.A. and it paid off tremendously. Rivers expected more from Jordan, demanded more … and usually got it. Jordan’s sixth NBA season produced dramatic improvement as he accepted responsibility to be a core performer. He finished second in the NBA in blocked shots per game (2.54) and third in rebounding (12.5). One of the main reasons that point guard Chris Paul can spend so much time jumping passing lanes looking for steals and the Clippers can be so aggressive on the perimeter is because they know they’ve got Jordan watching their backs with those long, lethal arms.

52 Comments

  1. Mr. Basketball says:

    the next time someone mentions Lebron for DPOY I will vomit. Lebron does not in any way shape or form deserve it. if it should go to a smaller player – 1 through 3 positions – it should go to Tony Allen. Lebron guards the best player for small stretches. Guys like Tony allen, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Butler guard the best 1 through 3 players on the other team everynight for basically every minute they are on the floor. Tony Allen is by far the best Pound for Pound defender in the league. Kawhi Leonard is right behind him. butler and Thompson are next. Lebron maybe after – then folks like batum and Avery Bradley. Lebron is a great second defender. top offensive player like Carmelo and KD eat him up. Heck even Kawhi Leonard gave him fits last year and his offense is now developing. I left out Stevenson because of his level of maturity – I hope he turns it around mentally in Charlotte and lives up to his potential.

    The bigs mentioned above are often called to defend the rim when the perimeter players get beat. So they in effect have to guard two and three people during those stretches so I can understand why there is a tendency to give it to them. that being said – the way that tony Allen plays and his impact on the game – he should get the award.

  2. Peter says:

    Captain Kirk!

  3. Defdun says:

    KAWHI LEONARD? JIMMY BUTLER? AVERY BRADLEY? KLAY THOMPSON? LEBRON JAMES?
    I hate this award always going to bigs, because they block shots, protect the rim and rebound. Stop choosing front-court players only, when defense happens at all positions! Much harder to keep someone in front of you at the guard or wing position. Lock-down guys like the Glove, MJ or Ron Artest were great picks but rare exceptions. Joakim Noah and Marc Gasol are fantastic multi-dimesional players and I’m sure they felt awkward when getting DPOJ as they don’t see themselves predominantly as defenders but all-around players that also boast a polished offensive game!
    Having said that, Anthony Davis is the big favorite!

  4. Michael says:

    The winner will be the best defender on one of the best defensive teams. I’m still trying to figure out how Tim Duncan has never won DPOY.

  5. Giannis Antetokonkounpo is going to look awfully Anthony Divid’ish this season. He is built similarly except a bit more in the Kevin Durant perimeter mobility mold. In limited minutes as a rookie he was constantly a threat to rack up blocks and steals.

  6. T gas TT ako says:

    LANCE STEPHENSON,, NO ONE ESCAPES HIS EAR BLOWING DEFENSE!!!!

  7. T gas TT ako says:

    JIMMIE FREDETTE!!!!

  8. T gas T ako says:

    LACNE STEPHENSON,,,, no one can escape his EAR BLOWING DEFENSE!!!!!!!

  9. tyler h says:

    Tony Allen should win it every damn year….I mean he eliminates 15 would be points by himself every game, he gives up the fewest points per 48 minutes of any player in the league also, and unlike centers he guards the very best player on the other team every game from lillard-wall and from Durant-Kobe I mean I hate Memphis but the way that man plays defense is ridiculous

    • Jason says:

      I agree, as a thunder fan Tony Allen is the best defensive player in the NBA. Without him the thunder would have swept them in 4 with a large margin. I have never seen a player get anywhere near stoping kd but Tony Allen slowed him down to a level I’ve never seen before from KD. Serge is great but Tony is amazing!

  10. Arturo says:

    JOAKIM NOAH

  11. Rangers says:

    Lebron isn’t even close to defensive player of year standards. He had a big drop off last year.

    Leonard, Butler, Rondo, Marc gasol are very good defenders as well

    • celtic533 says:

      I hate how Rondo never gets any love in these types of conversations

    • rob says:

      How do you figure Lebrons not good enough for defensive player of the year? He’s been robbed of the title 3 times already, and if you’re really saying his defensive numbers fell down, look at the team he had around him. Him and bosh had to do all the defending last year. And Harden? Give me a break, maybe if this was the flopping player of the year.

  12. The People says:

    No James Harden??…he is a DEFENSIVE JUGGERNAUT!!!

  13. Freddy says:

    What about Larry Sanders? He is returning! You all shall see the block party in Milwaukee!!

  14. Co says:

    Lebron James will have to play as the best defender in NBA with his new Cleveland team!

  15. Victor says:

    PJ Tucker?

  16. spguide says:

    No Tony Allen, Kawhi Leonard, Iguodala Patrick Beverly and Jimmy Butler, your list is insane Fran !

  17. Billyj says:

    Kawhi Leonard is the best perimeter defender in basketball. Ask Lebron James! He also flushed a few dunks right in the face or Serge during their playoff run.

    • Larry Bird G.O.A.T. says:

      why would we ask Lebron? Leonard has never come even close to shutting down Lebron James. Delusional fans. Go look up actual stats next time before you say such ignorant things.

  18. Gillsy says:

    I agree some forwards and guards should be on the list. Yea I know serge is a forward but half the time he plays centre anyway. as it was mentioned it will be good to see Davis get some help. The team has a chance to make some inroads this year.

  19. harriethehawk says:

    SERGE IBAKA!!!!

  20. Chris says:

    Everyone knows that Jimmy Butler is the best perimeter guard in the NBA, he can lock down Lebron<-held him to less than 20 (would've been less of Lebron wouldn't have gotten all the calls, and went to the free throw line), KD, Kobe, and even Steph Curry<- he held him to 5 points and 5 turnovers, JIMMY BUTLER SHOULD BE ON THIS LIST, and yes he is a better defender than Iggy and Kawhi

  21. Jeff says:

    Jimmy Buckets? No mention? Not glamorous enuff I guess. Chicago will still keep him even if his attack doesnt make a leap this year, solely for his D. And that also should bring Taj into the frame, another awesome defender, but not a starter so once again unlikely, although he play most of the 3 and 4th quarters mainly for his D.

  22. #BULLS says:

    They should have a perimeter player and a big guy as they both have different criteria of defense rating. Why not have 2 awards.

  23. Dunha says:

    I was wondering what more iggy has to do to deserve this prize. Look at the Warriors they were the most improved team on that end only adding Iguodala.

  24. Teddy Bubbles says:

    Kirk Hinrich = BDOAT (Best Defense of All Time)

  25. Dunha says:

    I was wondering what more iggy has to do to deserve this prize. Look at the Warriors they were the much improved team on that end only adding Iguodala.

  26. Mark says:

    Kawhi Leonard, Andrew Bogut…

  27. Art says:

    What about Kawhi Leonard? He has to go up against the leagues best night in and night out. I think DPOY should be more than just blocking shots at the rim

  28. Justin says:

    it would be fun to see a guard win. Patrick Beverley anyone?

  29. KEVIN says:

    I really hope if paul george would have not gotten injured he would have been on this list.

  30. DPOY? says:

    Why vote for DPOY in the first place. Usually you vote players who lack an offensive game! (Rodman, Mutumbo, Ben Wallace) So actually you’re getting an award for being one-dimensional. And why don’t we vote an offensive player of the year? Cos if you don’t play D, you’re seen as incomplete. Which is correct. So why bother to vote DFOY?

  31. Matt says:

    Serge Ibaka is favourite for winning it,think so.. OKC should only get better next year with half of team not even in their prime. 4 years leading block shots,and yet non DOY is reason enough to believe that he would make it. OKC is also solid defensive team (mostly thanks to Serge).
    Anthony Davis could have better statistical numbers in terms of major stats,but New Orleans as a team is not as good defencive team as he alone is. Having Asik is help,but perimeter will have to do a better job on D. None stats matter if team losing.
    Noah will probably have his ussual electrifyng seaseon,but i cant see him being DOY (no disrispect on that one),altho the Bulls should have their consistent D next season,activity is their game.
    DeAndre for me is no.2 to win it,with close call. He is just terrific and Clips are overally good if not great team with Doc managing them. Also having a leader as CP3 in front is always thing you want to develop.
    Howard is nice D,but he’ll have to have more help not named Trevor Ariza. If Harden really is best all around player,then give it to Howard..Is Harden best all around player?.. I thought so..

    • TEG says:

      I’m curious about OKC’s bench. the bench was a big reason for them not making it to the Finals. they made some switches but I want to see how it’ll play out for the next season.

  32. Rob says:

    What, no guards? SFs? Where’s LeBron? Hope a guard or a wing wins it this coming season. Tony Allen, anyone?

  33. Jae Porter says:

    I think a slimmer, focused Lebron could be a finalist this upcoming year

  34. Adam Dolezalek says:

    DJ was 1st in rebounding

  35. Steve says:

    Would think a healthy Marc Gasol would be up there more than Dwight in my honest opinion. Last season after Marc came back, Memphis were a better defensive team.