This was the right call — and it’s a call that might not have been made a decade ago.
Marc Gasol was officially named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday. He was the frontrunner for the award, with LeBron James coming in second and Serge Ibaka of the Thunder in third.
It’s hard to put quality statistics on defense, but the advanced NBA metrics out there plus more sites that break down game tape (every NBA writer I know uses Synergy or the NBA’s media-available videos to watch breakdowns) have given the general fan a broader understanding of defense. It’s not just rebounds and blocked shots, it’s how a player impacts the defensive end in terms of altering what the other team does. Defense is looked at differently than a decade ago.
Gasol was the anchor and key to the second best defense in the NBA this season. Memphis allowed 95.4 points per 100 possessions with Gasol on the court and 102.2 points per 100 when he sat. He protects the rim (1.7 blocks a game, 12th best in the NBA) but more than that he anticipates the play better than any big man in the game — he just seems to always be in the right place at the right time contesting shots.
Gasol had 30 first place votes (out of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters) and 212 points. LeBron had 18 first place and 149 points, Ibaka 14 first place and 122.
The rest of the top 10 vote getters are Joakim Noah, Tony Allen, Tim Duncan, Larry Sanders, Paul George, Andre Iguodala and Roy Hibbert (that’s a little low for Hibbert in my book).
Odd votes that caught my eye were the person who voted Trevor Ariza second (he’s good but not THAT good) and same with Dwyane Wade.
The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.
Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.
On offensive problems:
I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball
On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:
He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.
On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:
We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.
Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.
But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.
Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.
Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.
He’d appreciate them getting this message.
Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.
So, um, did he have offseason surgery?
Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.
We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?