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NBA / Mar 11, 2009 / 9:00 am

LeBron and Wade’s other race: Defensive Player of the Year

Dwyane Wade

During last night’s Cavs/Clippers game, the L.A. announcers were wondering aloud how many NBA records LeBron James can break before he’s done.

All the records are unsafe with LeBron at the age of 24,” one of them said, right before bringing up the Holy Grail: Kareem‘s all-time scoring mark of 38,387 points. Pointing out that Kobe would have to average 25 points a night for at least the next eight years just to challenge Kareem, they decided that LeBron, however, has a realistic shot.

While that’s a fun little 15-years-from-now bet to make with your boys, there’s an accomplishment for the more imminent future that we can wonder about: Does LeBron have a shot at the 2009 NBA Defensive Player of the Year?

Cleveland has the NBA’s best record (tied with the Lakers) thanks in large part to coach Mike Brown‘s No. 1-ranked defense, of which LeBron is the lynchpin and leader. If we’re going by the Kevin Garnett Criteria set in 2008, that alone gives LBJ a solid case for DPOY. And while his stats aren’t quite amazing, they are good: ‘Bron ranks sixth in the League in steals (1.7 spg) and is clocking a career-high 1.2 blocks per game. Also, nobody except for maybe Dwight Howard has cracked more nightly highlight reels this season via defensive plays than LeBron.

Watching the game last night, you could see LeBron’s impact beyond the numbers. On top of his two recorded steals and two blocks — including a catch-from-behind swat on Baron Davis — there were at least a handful of other plays where LeBron got his hands on balls (GUS JOHNSON) or otherwise disrupted the Clippers’ offense.

But just like the ’09 MVP race, some of LeBron’s toughest competition for DPOY will come from Dwyane Wade. While the Heat haven’t been as stingy as a team (12th in the League), Wade’s individual numbers trump LeBron’s. Flash ranks second in steals (2.2 spg) and 20th in blocks, where his 1.4 rejections per game sit highest among guards. Wade has also been a highlight-reel regular, most recently with the steal that set up his double-OT game-winner against Chicago on Monday.

What’s standing in the way of LeBron or D-Wade copping a DPOY to go along with an MVP? For starters, there’s Dwight Howard, League leader in blocks (2.9 bpg) and rebounds (14.0 rpg). Chris Paul tops the L in steals (2.8 spg), but his reputation as a one-on-one defender isn’t as strong. Marcus Camby has missed too many games, and KG hasn’t been as visible, either. Old standby vote-getters like Ron Artest, Bruce Bowen, Chauncey Billups, Tim Duncan and Shane Battier will be in the mix, but neither is making an overly compelling case to win.

Another obstacle for LeBron and Wade: Perception. They’re not the classic type of players that win DPOY. In the award’s history, it has typically gone to shot-blocking specialists (i.e. Mutombo, Ben Wallace), borderline dirty lock-down bullies (Artest, Dennis Rodman) and 48-Minutes-of-Hell guards (Gary Payton, Alvin Robertson). The only winner who didn’t fall into one of those pigeonholes? Michael Jordan, who won it in 1988. Yet another G.O.A.T. benchmark for LeBron and Wade to aspire to reach.

Who is your pick for Defensive Player of the Year?

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  • YOUNGFED…”Yeah Im from 8 mile but nothing like the movie bro.”

    Damn why yall leaving Kobe out like that. He’s a better defender than both of those catz.

  • POPPI GEE

    Wade! It all goes to Wade this year! LOL.

    Dang the beginning sounds like the set up for a movie.

    Some guy makes a 15 year bet with an ugly chick as a joke with friends that if LeBron ever tops Kareems scoring mark they he would marry her.

    15 years later and LeBron is 1 game away from dropping 30 points to get the scoring mark, and the girl has found and contacted the dude to remind him of their bet (which he thought was off and forgotten about).

    So comedy and adventure ensues as this guy and 2 friends take a trip to NY where LeBron plays to try and stop him in anyway possible from dropping 30, to keep from marrying ol girl.

    Turns out LeBron does score 30 and in trying to stop LeBron on so many tries the guy and his friends get arrested, and the girl is the only one who can bail them out.

    When the girl and guy finally meet turns out the ugly boogar of the past is now really fine and she really doesn’t hold him to the bet but they do start dating.

    The end and yes I am super board at work right now!
    Thank you lol!

  • ToAn

    dwight will get it, no doubt about it

  • Marian

    very good one POPPI

  • http://www.calve-alier.tumblr.com Calve-alier

    I wish Lebron would win it but the award voters will be content giving him MVP. Howard will win because of the stupid perception that ‘most blocks = best defender’.

    NBA award voting is a sham.

  • karizmatic

    I think it has to be Chris Paul, Wade, or Dwight Howard. CP# leads the league in steals, Wade is the best perimeter defenfer in the league right now, and We all know what Howard does. I’d give it to Wade just based on steals and blocks and on ball defense.

  • Bron42 aka Had Springs Before Slamball

    fed, kobe hardly blocks shots so he loses out cuz of that alone….it goes dwight then wade. wade leads all guards in blocks and is 2nd in steals, come on now..

  • http://allintheeyes.com the rocket cat

    Superman! If only Howard learned to start catching his blocks rather than maiming spectators with them.

  • loganlight

    I have a feeling that it will be a consolation prize for either LBJ or DWade. Lame, but the NBA is all about spreading the wealth. No way that either Wade or James leaves the year with both trophies.

    LL

  • fallinup

    It’ll be Dwight. Not only because he blocks the hell out of shots. But he is one hell of a presence in the paint. Voters see that more than anything. He will win it. Wade should come in second. Bron 3rd or lower, his 1 on 1 defense is still laughable.

  • http://iannyb9@hotmail.com iannyb

    Kobe a good defender buit he tries to do so much offensively so he limits his self defensively and of late he has been getting beaten one-on-one very often.Lebron and d-wade have been making quite a few defensive plays.Lebron relishes trailing from behind to spike guys.D-wade however terrorizes everybody,including big men going in for the dunk.It’s official my new favorite player Is D-wade he does all a coch asks.He does have more killer instincts than Lebron I’ll give him that much.those two guys are committed to all the facets of the game,whilst Kobe has gotten too engrossed with the offensive part.D-wade for MVP and DPOY

  • flavur

    Dwight is gonna get because he is leading the league in blocks because that makes you a great defender for some reason and if he doesn’t win wade will because he is a better one on one defender and best blocking two guard. D-WADE for MVP.

  • Prof. TX

    Wade gets a surprising amount of blocks for a little guy. I expect LeBron to get up there, since he’s usually got the size advantage.

    I’d have to go with Dwight for DPOY though. His rebound and block numbers are certainly good, but he’s got that shot-changing intimidation. Alot of guys will gamble and drive against Wade or LeBron (and alot of LeBron’s blocks seem to be from behind anyway), but having Howard in your way tends to make you pull up short and try for a longer shot instead.

    I think it’s a greater effect to be a guy who changes the opponent’s plan just by being there, rather than being someone that they’ll take their chances against.

  • bigdoggchad

    Wade gets Allen Iverson Steals. He gambles alot leaving his team in 5 on 4 situations. He is a good defensive player but not DPOY worthy or even first team defense.

  • LakeShow84

    It aint about “nightly highlight reels” Dime.. Shit Lebron sneezes and its a highlight.. and who gives a shit about HIS career high 1.2 blocks.. he should be sending back EVERYONE.. not just running down guards & wings from behind like a cheetah..

    If there is a case to be made for both, Wade is SMOKING Lebron in that race.. Wade is shorter than LBJ by 3-4 inches and he will actually camp out in the lane and send back Guards, wings, forwards and centers ATTACKING him face up.. And Cal-velour you know rebounding is considered a part of defense too right?? because with Dwights disgusting boards and being the anchor he is sending shots back he is second in my opinion..

    If Dwayne Wade wasnt on steroids i would give it to Howard.. but another thing to me is neither Dwade or Lebron really guard the other teams best player enough..

  • ERIC

    Kobe is a superior 1-on-1 defender than both LeBron and DWade.

    LeBron and Wade are great off-the-ball defenders. Kobe blocks shots too.

  • karizmatic

    Um Eric according to nba.com Kobe’s Blocks per game is .43. He does not block shots anywhere near the regularity of the guys in this conversation. I understand people wanting to say Kobe is the greatest at everything (which he is not) but please try a little harder not to dislodge yourself from reality.

  • doc

    Dwight or Timmy.

  • K Dizzle

    lol @ post 17
    post of the day

  • karizmatic

    Ay K Dizzle

    I mean seriously… Kobe blocks shots? C’mon you got to come better than that, now I have serious concern for dudes sanity.

  • Dragonyeuw

    Kobe isn’t a better 48 minute defender than Wade. Kobe is capable of playing great defense, but mainly in spurts, and mainly when he’s trying to prove a point(like facing another elite 2-guard). Wade defends and puts in effort all game long on defense. Kobe gets all defensive awards on a reputation that he really hasn’t lived up to in years.Capable of great defense? Sure. Playing it every game, all game for 82 games a year? Nope.

    Between Wade and Lebron though, Wade’s clearly the better defender. Better in steals, playing the passing lanes, and better in blocks despite being 5 inches shorter. Lebron gets a lot of blocks where he’s trailing some unsuspecting player and spikes it from behind, but he doesn’t challenge guys right at the rim like I see with Wade.

  • KB24

    I believe Kobe blocked more block attempts than D wade and LeBron combined…..

  • http://www.twitter.com/austinburton18 Austin Burton … now on Twitter

    @LakeShow84 — If you don’t think highlight reels mean anything, you don’t know how the voters operate. It’s impossible to watch every game in the League, especially when most of the voters are beat writers or announcers who cover one team. So what do they have to go off of besides stats and highlights? It absolutely matters.

  • Cavaliers

    “It aint about “nightly highlight reels” Dime.. Shit Lebron sneezes and its a highlight.. and who gives a shit about HIS career high 1.2 blocks.. he should be sending back EVERYONE.. not just running down guards & wings from behind like a cheetah.. ” (LakeShow84, #12)
    Lebron has blocked tons of guys…being a cavs fan, I watch all the games and see him chase down opponents. He’s also blocked players like Yao Ming, if you missed that one.

  • MBE18

    KING JAMES!!!

  • barons beard

    D-Wade is much better shot blocker than LBJ, dude is 6’4” stuffing PFs & Cs at the rim. Lebron’s blocks look spectacular, but they are usually on 6 foot zip point guards who float it up

  • justin

    An example of Wade’s defense. Notice the time of the game that he made the 2 blocks.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZPcLKpmm_k

  • http://www.jrosen.wordpress.com Jacob Rosen

    Kobe is a very over-rated defender in terms of the overall wins he brings to his team on that side of the court. Howard has the award in the bag this year, Paul will be second and then LBJ/Wade.

  • jr

    Allen Iverson !!!!

  • MattM

    I don’t see how Paul can be mentioned. All he can do is steal, and he lives off of the passing lane which is all a gamble.

    I mean seriously…your team is up by 1 and there’s 11 seconds in the game, you’re on defense. Are you really wanting Paul on their best guy?

  • nba leade

    kobe is a joke its lebron mvp and dwade dpoy that’s it. All of kobe dumb followers go suck on an egg.

  • http://www.myspace.com/bencamerondavis Bencamerondavis

    LOL! The Truth of the matter is that Wade is a better defender than LeBron and Kobe this season…. but the Media likes to keep LeBron’s name in everythihg that Wade is better than him at… So, remember this… When Wade does something spectacular, the Media will always mention LeBron’s name with it… When Kobe does well, the media will always mention LeBron’s name with him… It’s dumb but true…. like on TNT the other day all of the guys acted like Dwyane Wade shouldn’t even be in the discussion… I don’t know if Barkley ahs something against Wade, but he seems like he is a bit of a hater… Maybe it’s because Wade is the same size as him and has accomplished more?? Barkley has no ring, he never has been a defensive player of the year candidate… I don’t know what he has against Dwyane Wade who is nearly the same height as himself….

    The truth of the matter is Wade would be the first player below 6’6 to win DPOY… While everyone is calling Bron a DPOY candidate for chasing down guards and sneaking blocks, wade is making plays at crucial moments in games… New Jersey, Toronto, Detroit, and Chicago are just a few teams who have witnessed this everytime they have played Wade this season… Wade is the only person in the league to have 100 blocks and 100 steals…. and he is leading the league in scoring… in the top ten in assists. there is no way he goes the season with one of the two awards… If he does, then he should just leave the league and play overseas where he will be appreciated…. I’d give up watching the NBA just to watch him perform… besides he is what makes the league go anyways… He is the most exciting player in basketball today, and anything is possible while he is on that court… you can’t say the same about the others..

  • http://www.myspace.com/bencamerondavis Bencamerondavis

    There is no way Wade goes without one of the two awards… If he does, then he should just leave the league and play overseas where he will be appreciated…. I’d give up watching the NBA just to watch him perform… besides he is what makes the league go anyways… He is the most exciting player in basketball today, and anything is possible while he is on that court… you can’t say the same about the others..