Marc Gasol will be named Defensive Player of the Year, according to Chris Vernon of 92.9 FM ESPN in Memphis.
The Grizzlies center – who averaged 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals per game – isn’t a typical recipient of this award. Only 1987 winner Michael Cooper had lower per-game averages in all three of those primary defensive categories.*
*Yes, I’m aware rebounds include offensive rebounds, which are not a defensive statistic, but voters who care about per-game rebounding rarely distinguish between types of rebounds.
Gasol’s honor is a victory, not necessarily for better metrics, but for an attempt to better understand basketball.
Memphis, which ranked second in the NBA in defensive rating, allowed 95.4 points per 100 possessions with Gasol on the court and 102.2 points per 100 possessions with Gasol on the bench. More than those numbers, clips of Gasol’s defensive awareness were widely available via League Pass, Synergy, YouTube and other sources.
I suspect, more than ever, voters understood those numbers and saw that video.
Still, measuring individual defense is difficult, and it would be presumptuous to assume we can do it flawlessly. Maybe someday we’ll look back and wonder how these voters could be so foolish, but based on the best wisdom of the moment, Gasol is a worthy Defensive Player of the Year.
A good rule of thumb: If LeBron James is getting few breakaway dunks, the other team is in trouble.
Enter the Toronto Raptors, who got to watch a dunking clinic by LeBron as he had multiple breakaways during the Cavaliers’ 38-point win on Wednesday night. LeBron played well, and the Cavaliers got a balanced attack from their stars — 25 points from Kevin Love, 23 each from LeBron and Kyrie Irving.
Watch LeBron’s night above. Toronto needs to find a way to keep him from having another game like this Friday.
After a beatdown at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 — a loss where he was just 5-of-12 shooting, a loss that has the Raptors on the brink of playoff elimination — Kyle Lowry did what he had to do and went in front of the media to answer questions and try to explain that loss.
But really, his face when he walked into the interview room and saw the box score summed up the Raptors night perfectly.
Lowry and the Raptors need to turn it around and win at home Friday night to keep their playoff dream alive another day.
The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.
It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.
Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.
Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.
Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.
Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.
Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?