The NBA MVP does not necessarily have to go to the best player on the best team, but it makes rational sense to make that argument. So when voting for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, why not go with the best defensive player on the league’s best defense?
This year, it looks like that is what happened and Memphis Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol will be taking home his first DPOY Award.
The Grizzlies allowed the least opponent points per game this season at 89.3, which is especially impressive when you consider that they play in the Western Conference where most teams average over 100 points per game.
Gasol’s defensive stats do not exactly jump off the page. He averaged 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals per game, but he is an extremely tough, physical presence inside and was the leader for the Grizzlies’ incredible defense this season.
Gasol received 30 first-place votes and 212 total points, beating out LeBron James who finished in second with 18 first-place votes and 149 total points. After that was Serge Ibaka (14, 122), Joakim Noah (13, 107), Gasol’s teammate Tony Allen (9, 102) and Tim Duncan (11, 94). I included the top six in that list because I think it’s a travesty that Tim Duncan didn’t finish higher than sixth.
I am also surprised that even though Dwight Howard didn’t play on par with the past few seasons, he finished 14th. Howard still led the league in rebounds per game and was fifth in the league in blocks per game.
Gasol’s award probably won’t provide too much consolation if his Grizzlies cannot get past the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. Memphis returns home in an 0-2 hole, trying to bounce back and advance.