Most of the debate concerning this years awards have centered around the MVP. Lebron? Kobe? Wade? However, believe it or not there are other awards to be given out. Of those, the one that doesn't even require a debate is Defensive Player of the Year.
Call me bias, or a homer, or whatever, but the DPOY is Dwight Howard. End of discussion.
Unfortunately, everyone doesn't see it as clearly as I do. For example, take this from Ball Don't Lie:
BDL reader "Tony J." on the MVP debacle: "I've been thinking about this whole NBA MVP race, and I see a potential problem around the corner. Let me explain. Okay, the big race is for the NBA Defensive player of the Year. The reason I say that is, because it appears to be an award that D-Wade is the favorite to win. Well, if that happens, and he leads the league in scoring, while leading his horrible team to the playoffs, it really creates a problem in naming anyone else the league MVP. As of today [Monday], he has more points, assists, steals, and blocks than the other leading candidate! It's going to be a really tough decision, and I hope the league doesn't choose to not give him the Defensive player award because they see the potential problem."
Wrong. Dwayne Wade will not be named the DPOY. Again, it's Dwight Howard. It's hard to make the argument that Wade should win considering his team is not only weaker defensively, but is also 16.5 games back in the division.
Howard will finish the year as the league's top shot blocker and rebounder, and is the anchor of what has become a damn good defensive team. This is not news to TPASTBM readers, as we have touched on this before. I'll say it again:
- Orlando gives up only 5.4 3's a game... 4th in the NBA.
- Teams only shoot 34% from beyond the arc against Orlando... 2nd in the NBA.
- Opponents average 43.0% from the field... 3rd in the NBA.
- Orlando scores the 8th most points in the league (102.1), but at the same time they give up the 8th least amount of points (94.8).
- Orlando leads the league in the amount of points per shot they give up (1.14).
- The Magic lead the league in adjusted field goal percentage (explanation here).
- And to tap into Hollinger's numbers, Orlando is right behind Boston in defensive efficiency... That's the number of points a team scores per 100 possessions.
Hmm... It sure does seem that their defense is what carries these boys. The scary thing about the Magic is that there is really only one defensive star on the team, Mr. Dwight Howard. Jameer Nelson and Rafer Alston were never known for their lockdown defense. Courtney Lee has a ton of potential but is only a rookie. Who knows what Hedo does. Rashard Lewis has met the challenge of playing out of position and has improved his defense but certainly isn't going to make any all-defensive teams any time soon.
That leaves us with Dwight, who is undeniably the best defender in the league. He makes everyone around him better. He changes the way the other teams play offense.
The best example of this was the last time Cleveland came to town. Check out the shot chart. Lebron ended up with 23 points on 10 of 27 shooting. A vast majority of his shots were jumpers. Now there is no way of knowing this for sure, but don't you think the man in the middle might have played a role in keeping Mr. James from taking it to the basket as he does so well? In their other matchup of the season Cleveland won the game and Lebron scored 43 points. Of his 27 shots in that game, 19 were out of the paint. To give it some perspective, in last nights loss to the Wizards, Lebron was 11-18 from the field... And 5 of 6 from inside the paint. So, against the Wizards 33% of his shots were in the paint and against the Magic (let's use the average of both games) only 22% of his shots were taken from the same area.
In conclusion, anyone who tries to argue that any player other than Dwight should win the Defensive Player of the Year award should be publicly humiliated.
Credit the AP for the image of Dwight and Dwayne and ESPN for the shot chart.