April 19, 2011
Dwight Howard(notes) won the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award on Monday, an honor he is more than qualified to take. It's an honor he should have won unanimously, were it not for a series of ridiculous votes that either speak to homerism (Joakim Noah(notes) taking in a DPoY vote, despite possibly being the third-best defensive big man on his own team and playing only 48 games on the year, as Chicago-based media loses more and more respect from the rest of us as the year moves along), ennui (Dr. Jack Ramsay voted for Keith Bogans(notes), who isn't even the best defensive shooting guard on his team), or Jon Barry not really paying attention (he handed a first-place vote to Grant Hill(notes), because he doesn't care about getting things right).
Howard had to be the clear winner, as he led a terrible group of defensive teammates to a top-three mark in defensive efficiency in 2010-11. The 25-year-old stud managed 14.1 rebounds per game this year with 2.4 blocks and 1.4 steals. He led the NBA in Defensive Rating and Defensive Win Shares (Jon Barry: "Wha?") for the third straight season, centers only manage an 11.8 PER against him (15 is the average; and PERs tend to inflate for good rebounders, so PER rankings for centers are usually surprisingly high), while still covering all angles as penetrating scorers dash past Jameer Nelson(notes), Gilbert Arenas(notes), Hedo Turkoglu(notes), J.J. Redick(notes) and Jason Richardson(notes).
Simply put, if you think Derrick Rose(notes) is deserving of an MVP for leading a terrible Bulls team offensively to the 11th-ranked defense on the season, then you should probably be up for putting Dwight Howard's grinning mug up on Mt. Rushmore for leading this group of sieves to the third-best defense in the NBA in 2010-11. And defense, which we sadly have to keep reminding people about, is half the game of basketball.
Back to the voting, which was just ridiculous even if Howard ran away with the award. Andew Bogut was just about as big a destructive force as Howard for 90 percent of the minutes he played this season, but national types never deigned to watch enough Milwaukee Bucks games to notice or care, only handing the league's leading shot-blocker six second-place votes and 14 third-place votes, ranking him sixth overall.
This means Bogut barely eked ahead of Grant Hill, proving once again that media members will go out of their way to pass along a repeated story that demands game analysis without actually putting in the work to see if it's true. Hill is the supposed "defensive stopper" on the league's 25th-ranked defense who doesn't really get all that many stops. He tries hard, but can anyone put together a mental image of Hill locking down on the perimeter in a style that reminds of Thabo Sefolosha(notes), Ronnie Brewer(notes), Tony Allen(notes) or Andre Iguodala(notes)?
And the three people who gave JaVale McGee(notes) votes must be the same type of people who think that Nick Young(notes) is a fine offensive player when he takes 20 shots to score 20 points without registering a single assist. McGee might get his pair of blocks per night, but those are two shots out of dozens he's around for, while sometimes acting as a defensive millstone.
All in all, a typical result. Dwight Howard wins the award, and the media come through with some batty picks along the way.