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Marc Gasol officially named NBA Defensive Player of Year

Apr 24, 2013, 12:41 PM EST

Memphis Grizzlies Marc Gasol of Spain protests a foul during Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference Quarterfinals basketball playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles Reuters

This was the right call — and it’s a call that might not have been made a decade ago.

Marc Gasol was officially named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday. He was the frontrunner for the award, with LeBron James coming in second and Serge Ibaka of the Thunder in third.

It’s hard to put quality statistics on defense, but the advanced NBA metrics out there plus more sites that break down game tape (every NBA writer I know uses Synergy or the NBA’s media-available videos to watch breakdowns) have given the general fan a broader understanding of defense. It’s not just rebounds and blocked shots, it’s how a player impacts the defensive end in terms of altering what the other team does. Defense is looked at differently than a decade ago.

Gasol was the anchor and key to the second best defense in the NBA this season. Memphis allowed 95.4 points per 100 possessions with Gasol on the court and 102.2 points per 100 when he sat. He protects the rim (1.7 blocks a game, 12th best in the NBA) but more than that he anticipates the play better than any big man in the game — he just seems to always be in the right place at the right time contesting shots.

Gasol had 30 first place votes (out of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters) and 212 points. LeBron had 18 first place and 149 points, Ibaka 14 first place and 122.

The rest of the top 10 vote getters are Joakim Noah, Tony Allen, Tim Duncan, Larry Sanders, Paul George, Andre Iguodala and Roy Hibbert (that’s a little low for Hibbert in my book).

Odd votes that caught my eye were the person who voted Trevor Ariza second (he’s good but not THAT good) and same with Dwyane Wade.

  1. tkly18 - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I understand the Laker struggles throughout the season but there’s no way Dwight Howard should’ve been 14th. He does EVERYTHING on the Lakers defensively. Tony Allen should’ve won over Marc IMO.

    • eventhorizon04 - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      There were 3 factors working against Dwight for DPOY:

      1. Injury – Dwight has looked really good for the past month or so defensively, but for the majority of the season, he wasn’t covering as much ground as he used to, probably due to his injury. Even if you believe Dwight has played “A+” defense for the past month, it’s hard to give him votes over a guy who played “A-” defense for the entire season.

      2. Lakers troubles – Specifically, the Lakers’ troubles on defense. It’s not all Dwight’s fault, but it’s hard to give DPOY votes to a guy who “anchors” an average-to-below-average defense. Gasol’s candidacy was helped by the fact that Memphis is a top-2 defense.

      3. Political – Just as there was no way LeBron would win MVP the season after his “Decision” special and the resulting public relations hit from “breaking up” with Cleveland, Dwight forcing his way out of Orlando in a very messy and public “divorce” (while getting a highly respected defensive coach fired) definitely hurt him.

  2. edwardemanuelson - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Marc’s picture describes my reaction upon hearing this awful news.

    Tim Duncan is the DPOY. Talk about political.

  3. ckbuchanan - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Pacers with the best defense in the league. Hibbert should have been top5 and perhaps Paul George as well. #8 & #10 don’t do them justice.

  4. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Gasol? All I know is with the game on the line, even Memphis knows you put Tony Allen on the guy; not Marc Gasol.

    And really, let’s be honest here. You need stop one guy on one play. Might be Nate Robinson. Might be Tim Duncan. All you have is one guy to pick from to stop him. Are you really picking Marc Gasol?

    I’m not saying any names, but the guy I’d pick’s name rhymes with Shmebron Wames.

    • markdamack - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      This isn’t a very well thought out argument is it?

      Yeah, so let’s switch roles….and we’ll use the Lakers as an example…

      Tony Allen on Kobe…and Marc on Howard.

      ….Would you be stupid enough to put Marc on Kobe and Tony on Howard….that’s dumb right?

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:36 PM

        I’m not saying Tony Allen is the DPOY. I’m saying LeBron James is. Maybe referring to him in code as Shmebron Wames fooled you.

        Would you put Gasol on Durant? Kobe? Rondo? Rose? CP3? Westbrook? Pierce? Carmelo? Blake? No no no no no no no no and no. LeBron’s got ‘em all. Yes, Gasol can cover Dwight & Duncan, but so can LeBron. And he can go it better. And he’ll put up 28 on 9/12 shooting with 10 assists and 7 rebounds.

  5. markdamack - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    No matter how many basketball writers/analyst say…if you don’t think Marc Gasol is the DPOY then you don’t watch Grizzlies games….people will still come in here, acting like they do, and hate on Marc. EVERYTHING runs through Marc. He is always in the right spot, also…go look at the Grizzlies top 10 plays from this season…. TWO of the top ten plays, are buzzer beater blocks to seal the game from Marc.

  6. limonadamas - Apr 24, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Given these criteria, I wonder if any previous DPOY awards should have been given to other candidates in the past. Looking at the list, I have a hard time picking out any outliers (like Serge Ibaka would’ve been this year). The only one that stands out would be Marcus Camby from 2006-07. The All-Defensive teams are another topic altogether, obviously. haha

    I have a feeling that Tim Duncan should’ve won at least one. That guy’s strangely underrated.

  7. rmo42 - Apr 24, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    @1972,

    LOL and the LeBron switchery! Genius!

  8. memphistigers311 - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Kurt has earned my respect even though we may not always agree. You know he is busy with all these posts constantly. But I am 100% positive all the “Gasol?” and dumb 49yr old Tim Duncan replies did not watch 84 and counting Grizzlies games this year. The Grindfather TA, is absolutely lockdown, but Gasol completely changes games even advanced stats have a hard time recording. No really, Gasol changes freaking games. His Court IQ is ridiculous. That is a fact. Well deserved even though I think the Lebron vote should probably be a tad closer. Gasol does things you can’t teach.

    • kavika6 - Apr 25, 2013 at 5:18 AM

      You obviously haven’t watched many San Antonio Spur games either.

  9. raymondstoneohardy - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    I have watch Grizzlies games this year and in the past. While Marc is a nice guy, there is no way in the universe he should be defensive player of the year, But I have seen this coming for a long time. You can just watch the over paid Commisioner roam the world to recruit foreign players. This has changed the game so much that the refs don’t call all the fouls. I have watched game after game in which Marc has fouled but the ref doesn’t call it. Also the over use of cameras will destroy the ability of great players to score. Let’s tell it like it is. But every one with eyes can see it. A great number of so called black players are really whiter than white folks. The black players are afraid to speak up because they might get fired or they won’t make it in the European league.
    The best players in basketball came from high school so they were not brain washed by the controllers who steal their money and now with a decision like this
    steal their talent and pride. ZEE BO IS THE BEST REBOUNDER AND TONY ALLEN IS THE BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER IN MEMPHIS. I HOPE THIS DECISION DOESN’T BREAK THE TEAM UP. BUT THE PLAYERS NEED TO VOTE ON THEIR OWN BEST PLAYERS TOO NOT JUST THE LYING PRESS.
    IF THE BEST STUDENT MAKES STRAIGHT A’S, YOU DON’T GIVE THE WINNERS CUP TO THE D STUDENT. WITH THESE GUYS THE GREAT PLAYERS WOULD NEVER BE REWARDED. BUT WHEN THE TROPHY IS
    GIVEN OUT THIS YEAR FOR THE BEST TEAM, MARC WILL BE IN SPAIN WATCHING LEBRON DUNK OVER EVERYBODY.

  10. tommyshih - Apr 25, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    This is a lazy and largely useless article. If you’re going to look at how many points per 100 possessions the Grizzlies allowed with Gasol on and off the court, you also need to consider how high the correlation is with Tony Allen’s on/off numbers. A legitimate article would be to take a look at the various line up combinations for the Grizzlies to not only try to isolate out Gasol and Allen, but Z-Bo and Conley as well. All 4 of those players finished top 20 in Defensive Rating this year. You mention Synergy, but doesn’t even bother to use it. Kurt, why don’t you challenge yourself to become an actual analyst? Throwing a couple readily accessible stats up with anecdotal observations (always in the right place at the right time!) doesn’t tell the readers anything. You also need an editor.

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