LeBron James has had an up and down kind of season, at least to his standards. James’ efficiency has again ascended into uncharted territory, shooting 57 percent from the field, which is easily top 10 in the league. James has won the top scoring recognition in the league before, claiming the scoring title in 2008, which rounds out his accolades in this league. The one award that has eluded James since he joined the NBA in 2003 is the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
James recently gave a quote to Brian Windhorst of ESPN right after a clutch victory over the Los Angeles Clippers stating, “That’s why I should be Defensive Player of the Year, no one has ever done this before.” What James is referring to is his ability to guard positions 1-5 on the court, something not a lot of other players can make claim to.
It’s not like coaches haven’t taken notice of James’ defensive abilities. He has made the Defensive All-Star team every year since 2004 as a matter of fact. What it really comes down to is the award isn’t typically given to wing players.
Ron Artest was the last small forward to win the award, and that was back in 2004. That was a decade ago. Centers and forwards absolutely dominate this award and for good reason. They typically have the stats to back it up in the form of high defensive rebounding averages and high shot block averages.
Steals are also considered a premium for this award. Big men usually rack up the highest averages in these categories, which is why it is difficult for small forwards to even make it on to the ballot, let alone win the entire thing.
James’ averages in all the above-mentioned categories in regards to the Defensive Player of the Year award have taken a hit this season. Both his rebounding and blocking averages are down, and only his steals per game average has taken a slight up-tick. Although James does guard positions 1-5, on more nights than he should, the fact that his numbers in these important categories are down this season does not warrant him winning the award.
James may be deserving of it, but there are numerous other players in this league (Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert come to mind) that are more deserving based on what they have produced so far this season on the defensive end. This could be the first season in a while James comes up empty handed in terms of regular season accolades, as Kevin Durant has almost all but sealed up his first MVP award.
Luckily for the Miami Heat, the anger from being spurned by media, coaches and fans alike will push James into a higher gear during the playoffs. Hopefully, that will be enough to push Miami to their third straight NBA championship.
Jared Doyle is a Miami Heat writer for RantSports.com.
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