Winning Defensive Player of the Year isn’t as sexy as winning the MVP or the Rookie of the Year. Most basketball fans can’t even name who won it last year and Madison Avenue isn’t exactly waiting to snag up the league’s most dominant defender to a lucrative endorsement deal based on the award itself. But to players it matters. Especially when you are talking about extremely competitive guys like Kobe and LeBron, this award means even more bragging rights.
The candidates are basically the usual suspects. There are rarely any real surprises when it comes to this award. Still, we look at five guys who could have the best “D” in ’10.
1. Dwight Howard: Superman won the award last year and could very well repeat again this year. At 7-feet and blessed with ridiculous athleticism, Howard can clean the glass and beat up shots basically on cue. He averaged 13.8 rpg, 2.9 bpg and even a steal in ’08-09. If the Magic win the East in the regular season, this award stays in Orlando.
2. Kobe Bryant: Kobe has been on the All-Defensive first team seven times. You know Kobe would love to win this award especially since MJ has one. Kobe is so competitive he wants to be the most complete player on both ends of the court. With the Lakers on a mission to repeat, I can see Bryant turning up the intensity on D. He is a great on-the-ball defender, can read passing lanes and is a great leader on the defensive end by communicating with his teammates and getting them in the right spots.
3. Chris Paul: Last year, CP3 was hands down the best point guard defender. His 2.77 picks a game was best in the league. His ability to carry the Hornets on both ends of the court makes him not only a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year but also for MVP as well. The fact that he also grabs nearly five defensive rebounds a game speaks volumes.
4. LeBron James: Like Howard, LeBron is a physical freak. At 6-8 and 270, he is built like a power forward but has more grace and athleticism than almost any guard in the league. He can lock up four different positions. Last year, he averaged 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Not many defenders in this league have that kind of versatility where they can guard someone on the perimeter, in the post and be a great help-side defender.
5. Ron Artest: The Lakers’ newest acquisition is the dark horse to take this award. Between him, Pau, Kobe and Bynum – they are going to be a defensive nightmare for opposing teams. If he accepts his role and focuses, he can maybe even outshine Kobe on the defensive end. Artest won this award in 2003-’04 when he was a Pacer. This could be the year he reclaims his title.
Who do you think will win it? Any other players in consideration?
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