Skip to content

As per usual, strange things are afoot in the voting for the All-Defensive teams

May 5, 2010, 5:20 PM EDT

Award voting will never be a perfect process, if only because there are so many different perspectives involved. That said, selections to the All-Defense first and second teams provide particularly unique challenges, as voters are not only asked to weigh certain contributions (scoring, playmaking, etc.) against others (defense, leadership, etc.) as they are in MVP voting for example, but determine whether the contributions are worthy of such an honor at all. It’s tough to dispute things like points and shooting percentages, but there aren’t any simple ways to measure defense, and finding any reliable way to measure defense quantitatively is rather difficult.

It’s so difficult, in fact, that for the most part, head coaches needn’t be bothered by it. The electorate for the All-Defense teams are supposed to be the league’s 30 head coaches, but does anyone honestly believe that Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich penned the ballots for their respective teams? Such assignments are often handed down the ladder to an assistant, and perhaps even further down from that assistant to someone else on staff.

Want proof? Even the worst coach in the league wouldn’t dare vote for some of the players that end up receiving votes in these things. Here are some of this year’s anomalies:

  •  Luis Scola received the same amount of points (2) as Portland wing stopper Nicolas Batum.

  • Dwight Howard only received 28 votes for the 1st team, when he should have received 29. Stan Van Gundy (or whoever is voting for SVG) can’t vote for Howard as a rule, but is there honestly a coach in this league that thinks there is a better defensive player, much less a better defensive center, than Dwight?
  • Andrew Bogut, who would have been a fine selection for Defensive Player of the Year had Howard not been otherworldly, was only the fourth highest vote-getter among centers. Bogut was second in the league this season in combined steals, blocks, and drawn charges.
  • Shawn Marion held opposing small forward to a 13.3 PER this season (15 qualifies as average) and a league-low .392 from the field (per ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon), but couldn’t score a single vote. Forwards who did receive a vote? The aforementioned Scola, Ersan Ilyasova, and Caron Butler. Speaking of Caron Butler, how did a player get a vote for playing roughly a season of decent defense? Butler wasn’t bad defensively for Dallas after the trade deadline, but with Washington? Yeesh.
  • Nick Collison also couldn’t get a single vote, despite being one of the more effective defenders in the league. Thought Marion holding opposing small forwards to a 13.3 PER was impressive? How about Collison keeping his opponents at power forward to just an 8.7 PER?
  • Jason Kidd receive four first team votes despite his inability to defend his own position on a regular basis, Lamar Odom and Deron Williams each received a first team vote despite being merely competent on D, and George Hill received a first team vote on the strength of some unknown criteria that places him as an elite defender.
  • Finally, something that’s less of an anomaly and more of a general trend. Eight of the ten All-Defense selections were All-Stars. This isn’t because those playing in the All-Star game are selected for their defense necessarily, but that despite the purpose of the All-Defense teams, the voting coaches typically choose more complete players. Guys like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who for all of their defensive strengths are rather limited on the offensive end, are routinely left out in the cold. It’s not a coincidence that the first season Gerald Wallace was named an All-Star is also the first year he was selected for either All-Defense team, and it’s also not indicative of some substantial leap in his game.
  1. hoopinion - May 5, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Along the Marion/Butler lines, Joe Johnson got one first-team vote. Al Horford got one second-team vote. I’m pretty sure Joe Johnson played a good defensive game this season and I just can’t remember it. I know the Hawks design every defensive possession to have Al Horford guard as many opposing players and as much of the floor as possible. They’re not a good defensive team, but they’d be as terrible without Horford as they would be without Josh Smith.

  2. Anonymous - May 5, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    Mindblowing to realize that Rob Mahoney knows more about basketball than NBA head coaches who vote on this.
    Along with Matt Moore, who wants a redesign of the MVP vote to only allow for the staunch support of Lebron, probasketballtalk should be the sole voters for the majority of NBA awards.

  3. Raj - May 6, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    The interesting thing is that 82games.com actually uses a different version of PER than Hollinger’s- their scale is different than Hollinger’s (check out some of the PER numbers they have- clearly higher than what Hollinger’s are), so guys like Marion and Collison may actually be even better than what a 13.3 and an 8.7 PER represent relative to the 15 average. Also, Basketball Prospectus’ “Dmult” stats are a must in looking at how well players did defensively

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (3656)
  2. R. Rondo (3410)
  3. K. Bryant (3200)
  4. D. Wade (2334)
  5. R. Allen (2305)
  1. D. Williams (2228)
  2. K. Leonard (2001)
  3. D. Rose (1923)
  4. E. Bledsoe (1915)
  5. M. Smart (1863)