By Cody Williams @TheSizzle20 on March 26, 2014
The NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award has certainly evolved in recent years. While it doesn’t hurt to rack up blocks and steals, the rise to prominence of advanced stats has allowed us to see how players affect the game on that end of the floor beyond just traditional defensive statistics. Marc Gasol capturing the award last year was all of that coming to fruition. Who are the top 10 candidates this season, though?
Had Kawhi Leonard not missed a significant amount of time this season due to injuries, he’d probably be higher up on this list. The Spurs forward anchors his team’s defense on the perimeter in a big way. This award tends to favor big men, but Leonard is good enough on that end to undoubtedly be in the mix.
The Warriors have quietly emerged as one of the best defensive teams in the league and a big part of that is having a full season with Andrew Bogut on the interior. There are certainly other factors in Golden State’s defensive improvement, but Bogut’s presence at the center position is truly a game-changer for this team.
Speaking of other reasons why the Warriors have shown improvement defensively, Andre Iguodala’s impact on their perimeter defense has been monstrous. Iguodala’s ability as both an on-ball and help defender helps sure up some of the holes that this team has had defensively in years past and has helped them evolve beyond just a team that can knock down a bunch of threes.
If we were looking at just traditional counting statistics, Anthony Davis would be the runaway favorite. Oddly, advanced stats don’t do him a lot of justice, but the Pelicans’ second-year forward has been a monster defensively while surrounded by a sub-par defense. Give him more time to further develop and a healthy roster around him and Davis could very well take this award in the near future.
There’s a definite reason why Gasol captured the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award and that hasn’t gone away. For one of the best defensive teams in the league, Gasol is what makes them tick. He not only a force in the post with the way he can defend on the ball and on the weak side, but he’s also like a coach on the floor defensively with the way that he directs his teammates. If not for injuries, Gasol is much higher on this list.
One of the knocks on Serge Ibaka that has kept him out of the running of being DPOY in recent years has been that his defensive impact is largely padded by his block numbers and that he’s not an overall effective defender. That’s changed largely this season, though, with Ibaka showing a great deal of improvement in terms of spacing, help-defense, and timing. He’s on his way to picking up a DPOY award quite soon.
LeBron James has publicly said that he wants to win a Defensive Player of the Year award and he probably should before all is said and done. While he and the Heat have coasted for much of this season, there’s no more versatile or lethal defender in the game than James when he’s dialed in on that end of the floor.
People grilled Dwight Howard for how bad the Lakers defense was last season, but people also forget that he was playing hurt for much of the year. While he’s not the monster he used to be defensively, Howard has recaptured some of what he used to be in Houston, helping pick up the slack from some of the Rockets’ poor perimeter defenders and keep this team afloat in that area.
At the start of the season, this award seemed like Roy Hibbert’s to lose. Though he’s slipped somewhat as the Pacers have started to falter, Hibbert is still a beast on the interior that presents a problem for any opponent, especially when that opponent is trying to get to the rim. There’s no doubt that Hibbert is one of the favorites to take home the honor.
Joakim Noah has inserted himself into the MVP conversation (or the “who is third in the MVP race conversation rather) with how he’s performed this season. A hefty part of that is because of what he contributes defensively. Noah is a unique blend of raw athleticism, energy, and savvy on the defensive end that make him absolutely devastating to go up against. For how he’s carried the Bulls, Noah gets the nod from me for the award.
March 5, 2015 by Dave Daniels
If the San Antonio Spurs want to be champions again, then they have a lot of work left to do. Here are five games they need to win during their remaining schedule. Read More
March 5, 2015 by Jared Doyle
Here are five must-win games remaining on the Oklahoma City Thunder's 2015 NBA schedule. Read More
March 5, 2015 by Jerry Landry
Down but not out, here are five games the Chicago Bulls must win to earn a high seed in the playoffs. Read More
March 5, 2015 by Dan Schultz
Why the NBA and their fans should be very happy to have Craig Sager back working the sidelines Read More
March 5, 2015 by Casey Sherman
The Raptor's young center looks ready to break out in a big way down the stretch. Read More
March 5, 2015 by Richard Nurse
There’s only one explanation why Dwyane Wade lacks the criticism LeBron James gets. Read More
The Playoffs are just six weeks away, and the Splash Brothers need to keep pacing the Golden State Warriors by capturing these five must-win games en route to winning the Western conference. Read More
March 5, 2015 by Timothy Downs
The Atlanta Hawks have had a stellar season, but in order to take the momentum into the playoffs, they must win these five games and make a statement. Read More
It's time for the Rockets to take off, and to improve their playoff position, these are five games Houston must win. Read More
Sitting one game out of the playoff contingent, the New Orleans Pelicans are poised to turn it on and turn it up for these five must-win games. Read More
March 5, 2015 by Roje Smith
With roughly three months left until the 2015 NBA Draft, these are the top five players who the Toronto Raptors should target. Read More
March 5, 2015 by Brian Brennan
These are the five must-win games remaining on the Boston Celtics' schedule. Read More