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Andre Iguodala complains of politics in All-Defensive team choices, but Larry Sanders should have the biggest gripe

May 14, 2013, 1:04 PM EDT

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Andre Iguodala didn’t make the NBA’s All-Defensive first or second team, and shortly after voting was released, he tweeted:

It’s easy to see why Iguodala would expect to make an All-Defensive team. Iguodala finished ahead of one first-team guard (Chris Paul) and both second-team guards (Avery Bradley and Mike Conley) in Defensive Player of the Year voting, but coaches voted on All-Defensive teams and the media chose Defensive Player of the Year.

Did the league’s coaches conspire against Iguodala? Potentially. I wouldn’t expect coaches with much more important responsibilities to take these selections seriously, and I can easily see them trading favors with their votes.

But it seems like the real political slight came form the NBA.

Iguodala received more voting points (16) than second-team center Marc Gasol (12). As a matter of fact, so did Larry Sanders (16) and Thabo Sefolosha (15).

As guards, Iguodala and Sefolosha were stuck behind second-team guards Bradley (25) and Conley (19). Likewise, Paul George (27) is locked into one forward spot, so that prevented Iguodala from sliding in there.

But with center and the remaining forward spot, the NBA had wiggle room on the second team.

We know the NBA classified Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah as centers, because they’re listed that way on the first team. We also know Gasol is a center, because that’s his position on the second team. Two other players who received votes, Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert, are also certainly centers. Those five combined to receive 27/30 first-team votes and 21/30 second-team votes.

The only other realistic possibilities to get center votes are first-team forward Serge Ibaka, second-team forward Tim Duncan and Sanders.

Why is Sanders a center? Well, the Bucks list him as a center and a center only. Nobody else in Milwaukee’s six-most used players was a center, so it’s not like Sanders had to play out of position, either. He’s a center.

Duncan and Ibaka defend both forwards and center, so they could have slid into either position. Duncan’s flexibility gave the NBA multiple options for second-team center and the forward spot next to George.

Option 1 (what the league did):

  • F: Duncan (20)
  • C: Gasol (12)

Option 2 (what the league should have done):

  • F: Duncan (20)
  • C: Sanders (16)

Option 3: (what the league could have done):

  • F: Iguodala (16)
  • C: Duncan (20)

Options 2 and 3 were both better than Option 1, so Iguodala seems correct that he could have fared better if politics didn’t work against him. But if politics – or any other should-have-been-irrelevant factors – disrupted voting, Sanders got the biggest slight.

Really, if the NBA wanted to be completely fair, a tiebreaker would have been used to separate Chandler and Noah, who tied for first-team center. Rather than naming a six-man first team and a five-man second team, the NBA could have made one the second-team center and honored 10 players as designed. In that case, Gasol, Sanders and Iguodala would all have missed the second team.

Instead, the NBA honored an extra player. It just chose the wrong one.

  1. jaerba - May 14, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    The whole award is just silly. I think Iggy has a weaker case simply because there’s so many outstanding defensive wings in the league, but Sanders missing out and CP3/Ibaka making it is just stupid, as is Kobe getting any votes at all.

    Ibaka is getting abused this Grizz series because he can’t play good man defense, and he’s primarily just a high flying shotblocker that gets easily drawn out of position. That’s not good defense (despite Dwight Howard’s idiotic declaration that number of blocks = good defense.) The same goes for CP3 and steals. Paul gets steals because he cheats in certain situations, but he also gets abused by certain types of guards. Even huge Paul fans know there’s better overall PG defenders than him, and he’s probably not even top 5 or 10 among guards.

    Kobe has short spurts where he plays good man defense, but it’s certainly not the majority of games and it doesn’t make up for his terrible team defense.

    It seems odd that the coach’s awards are a bigger joke than the journalist’s awards, but in this case it’s true.

    • readysethike - May 14, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      you are absolutely correct about your assesment of Paul. i saw it against the series in Memphis. i believe he led the league in steals but in that series conley was eating him up, blowing right past him and i thought how could he lead the league in steals without being a great defender and your right its because he gambles.

      As far as the center position goes, it is almost a dead position now because i think the focus or this era, has gone away from the traditional big man.

    • unxpexted1 - May 14, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      I kinda see your point with Chris Paul, but who would you replace him with. I’m just tryna think off the top of my head but there are not a lof of good defensive PG’s in the league. If you’re arguing guards overall yea i’d replace him but who, as a point guard would you put. Only person i can legit think of is Rondo when healthy, maybe mike conley (who i put in the same category as CP3 in style of defense), or maybe a George Hill. Tough call on PG’s so i think they got it right.

  2. logisticalvoices - May 14, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Is it just me, or as the lines between positions get more and more blurred, voting for these awards and the all-star game is pretty near impossible?

    • eventhorizon04 - May 14, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      Agreed, especially with so many power forwards who slide to center when their teams go small.

  3. broncobeta - May 14, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    How did Avery Bradley even make this list? He played 50 games.

  4. fanofthegame79 - May 14, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    The players seem to all play the same spot – so yes, the lines are getting blurred between positions. What I don’t understand is why the media votes on one set of awards (MVP, DPOY, etc) and the coaches vote for all-NBA stuff. I don’t see how LeBron was the leading vote getter from coaches for the defensive all-NBA team (who actually have to game plan for him and his defense) and why Marc Gasol was voted as Defensive Player of the Year by the media and he barely makes the all-NBA 2nd team when coaches vote. There is too much of a disconnect there for me.

  5. thomaskouns - May 14, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    At least someone is pointing out these vote are often dubious and rigged and this has ben going on for years.

    The fact Kobe (scouts frequently note has been a half-hearted defender for the last two and a half years) made the second team last year illustrates that the league puts a lot of emphasis and pressure at times on promoting its star players to help the league’s brand at the expense of its integrity or to market one player over another.

  6. spthegr8 - May 14, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Iggy is right. He got the shaft. But they SCREWED Larry Sanders!! It’s a JOKE!!

  7. 00maltliquor - May 14, 2013 at 2:04 PM


  8. 00maltliquor - May 14, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    There should be a 3rd team. Too many good players get left off and go unrecognized. Same thing with the All-NBA teams. Just add a 3rd team. Or at the very least just get rid of the positions and make it the top 10, regardless of position.

    • spthegr8 - May 14, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      I agree with you 100% Bruh!!!! Too many good defenders get left out. A 3rd team would mean ppl like Iggy and Sanders dont get screwed out of a deserving honor!!

    • eventhorizon04 - May 14, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      I’m normally not a fan of “Awards Inflation,” in which more and more people get honored, but I’m with you on this.

      First, I think there are enough terrific defenders that people here could named 15 guys (1st, 2nd, and 3rd All-Defense) without diluting the value of the honor of being named to an All-Defensive team.

      This year, 6 players made the 1st team, and 5 made the 2nd team this year.

      In order to get 15 total, for 3rd team, I’d add 4 guys: Larry Sanders, Andre Iguodala, Thabo Sefolosha, and Luol Deng. Even if you’d replace some of those guys I named with other players, the point is it’s definitely possible to name 4 more guys without having to allow any “weak” defenders onto the list. A Sefolosha-Iggy-Deng-Sanders group paired with pretty much any 5th player would be terrific defensively.

      Second, the All-NBA awards have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams, so there would be a nice “symmetry” for the All-Defense teams to have 3 teams.

  9. unxpexted1 - May 14, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    I’m not sure why everybody is up in arms about Larry Sanders not making first team defense. I can’t lie i dont watch him enough to know how active his on ball defense his but he averaged 2.8 BLKS and 9.5 REB while Ibaka averaged 3.0 BLK and 7.7 REB. Not saying Serge deserves it but its not like Sanders is some HUGE snub either.

    • jaerba - May 14, 2013 at 5:53 PM

      BLK and REB numbers don’t tell you very much. Look at their respective teams’ points-per-100-possessions when they’re on and off the court. Sanders makes a huge impact, Ibaka doesn’t.

  10. realninerfan22 - May 14, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    This is a joke. D wade blocks shots, get steals, guards the kobes, Durant, melo Paul George, basically the best players.. And gives them all problems, if you dont believe its all on film.. The hate for d wade is so obvious.. And igudola shud have been on there..

  11. paleihe - May 14, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Why does the media get to vote on any award?

    The players and coaches should decide who wins these awards.

  12. realninerfan22 - May 14, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    D wade pg, toney allen sg, igudola sf, lbj, dwight Howard…. Lets be real Conley is no great defender, cp3 get steals but other good pg destroys him.. Marc gasol is solid but he averages 7 boards he’s not better then Howard on defense.. Stop it!!!! That’s just idiotic

  13. 4thquartermagic - May 14, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    Iggy got robbed.

    Seriously the ONLY reason he was on the olympic team was to shut people down.

    He is at least 2nd team.

  14. iamhoraceknight - May 14, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Most of the All Defense picks are shabby. …. Ibaka blocks a lot shots, But gets abused defensively. Players Run right past him. CP3 gets steals, but WHO has he ever slowed on Defense?

    Even Lebron Cheats on defense, He’ll guard the player for 2 out of 12 mins.

    I wish the team would be filled with players that actually play defense.

    Tony Allen
    Paul George
    Matt Barnes
    KG(before he got old)
    Avery Bradley

  15. kavika6 - May 15, 2013 at 8:06 AM

    Chandler’s only atribute is that he’s a thug. Ibaka is too one-dimensional. Bradley didn’t play enough games. Chris Paul is over-rated and gets abused by Tony Parker every time they go head to head. It surprises me that coaches would be involved with popularity contests.

  16. lakerluver - May 15, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    Of course politics played a part in his snub. Just like politics play a part in why my best comments do not get posted on this site for some strange reason. I drop knowledge on you people, click “post comment” and NOTHING happens!!!

  17. ProBasketballPundit - May 15, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Wrong! Milwaukee had the 12th best defense in points per possession. A great defensive center does not play for the 12th best defense.

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