Serge Ibaka is exactly the type of player who would have won Defensive Player of the Year in previous seasons. He led the league in blocks per game, and a high mark in that stat is often a precursor to winning the award.
But, as voters have smartly considered more factors than basic stats like blocks per game, Marc Gasol will reportedly win.
That didn’t sit right with one of Ibaka’s teammates, Kendrick Perkins:
I’m not hating but the NBA just give awards away. Serge don’t get defensive player of the year. That don’t make any sense. SMMFH
Ibaka is a good defensive player, but it’s difficult to build a case he’s better than Gasol.
The Thunder’s defensive rating was essentially the same with Ibaka on the court (99.0) as him off (99.5). The Grizzlies, on the other hand, sunk from sub-Ibaka levels without Gasol (102.2) to better-than-Ibaka heights with Gasol (95.4).
Individually, Ibaka ranked 196th in points allowed per play, according to MySynergySports. Gasol ranked 29th.
Those numbers can be very noisy, but one type of play that tends to more accurately reflect true production, post-ups, also gave a big advantage to Gasol – 21st to 128th.
Plus, Gasol played 35 minutes per game to Ibaka’s 31, giving his team many more possessions with a high-end defensive player on the floor. That matters.