May 09, 2011
Every year, the All-Defensive teams come out, as voted on by NBA coaches. And every year, we wonder if NBA coaches are watching the same games that we are.
More specifically, we wonder if NBA assistant coaches and team PR personnel are watching the same games that we're watching. Because head coaches often farm out their votes to these sorts of employees, and as a result we get some very confusing lineups.
To start, Orlando's Dwight Howard(notes), Boston's Kevin Garnett(notes), and Miami's LeBron James(notes) round out the frontcourt on the first team. Well done, friends. Boston guard Rajon Rondo(notes) was selected as the top point guard, though I have mild reservations there, and Kobe Bryant(notes) of the … wait, Kobe?
It's not just because the player who made the second team, Memphis' Tony Allen(notes), should have probably placed third in Defensive Player of the Year voting. It's because Kobe Bryant, as it has been for years, is a wildly inconsistent defender who only brings All-Defensive-type defense sparingly. Otherwise, he gives defense a lick and a promise, and we don't blame him. The Lakers needed Kobe and his fluid-filled knees to be dropping 30 a night.
But he's a star, and he's a good defender, so he makes the list ahead of others who actually played better (or much, much better) defense than Kobe did this year.
The same goes for Chicago's Joakim Noah(notes) and Derrick Rose(notes). Rose improved considerably on defense this season, and I'd put him and his backup C.J. Watson(notes) up as the two most improved defenders in the NBA in 2010-11. But for him to receive 14 votes and four votes as the best defensive point guard in the NBA is just star obsession gone mad.
And Noah somehow made the second team as a "forward/center," which is a new one. Noah is my favorite player and an outright dominant defender at times, but he also gets lost defensively while hedging on screen and roll every so often, and he can be dominated in the paint by bigger centers or even forwards. He often is, in fact. To rank his 48 games ahead of Andrew Bogut's(notes) 65 games is batty. Grant Hill(notes), Shawn Marion(notes), and Tayshaun Prince(notes) receiving votes? Same ideal.
Otherwise, the list is passable. Tyson Chandler(notes), Chris Paul(notes), and Andre Iguodala(notes) round out the second team. I'd trust Kyle Lowry(notes) to guard an opposing point guard more than I would Rondo, but Rajon has his moments. Andre Iguodala and LeBron James aren't probably a coin-flip for first team at small forward, Dre was probably a little better, but it's not the worst thing in the world.
But for those of you that don't understand the "Kobe-over-Tony Allen" gulf, well, it's a bit like picking Andrew Bynum(notes) over Dwight Howard for the starting center slot on the All-Defensive Team. Allen is that great, and Kobe is merely pretty good every so often.