Told Marc Gasol won Defensive Player of the Year and that he finished 14th, Dwight Howard didn’t sound thrilled with the result. Mark Medina of inside the lakers:
The news caused Dwight Howard to say “it’s funny,” but he wasn’t offering his signature smile.
“It’s just funny,” Howard said. “That’s okay. We got next year and I got a long time. This year’s funny.”
Howard averaged more defensive rebounds, blocks and steals – both per minute and per game – than Gasol.
Like when LeBron James lost MVP to Derrick Rose, nothing held Howard back more than voters’ irritation with how he changed teams. Howard probably could have handled his departure from Orlando better, but that doesn’t affect how well he defends.
The second-biggest factor working against Howard was his drop in production relative to previous years, but he shouldn’t have been competing with previous versions of himself. He should have been competing with other players in 2012-13.
However, unlike the LeBron-Rose situation, Howard didn’t deserve the award. Gasol did.
With Gasol on the court, the Grizzlies’ defensive rating was 95.4. With Howard on the court, the Lakers’ defensive rating was 101.7. Gasol played with better defensive teammates, but they didn’t account for such a large gap. Besides, Memphis’ defense improved more when Gasol played than Los Angeles’ did when Howard played.
But don’t bother Howard with those advanced stats. Via Medina:
“Serge Ibaka with all the stuff he did this year, he should’ve been the guy to win it this year and last year,” said Howard, though the award went last season to New York’s Tyson Chandler. “With the stuff he’s done on the defensive end. I thought he was the clear cut winner. But people saw it otherwise.”
“He led the league in blocks. That’s what defense is all about,” Howard said of Ibaka. “He led the team and was number one in blocks this year. You can’t play defense without having any shot blockers. He was the No. 1 shot blocker the last two years. That’s great defense right there.”
I don’t hear Howard saying he shouldn’t have won Defensive Player of the Year in 2010-11, when Ibaka led the league in total blocks and Andrew Bogut led the league in blockers per game. But here is a summary of what Howard did say:
1. Blocks = defense
2. Every Defensive Player of the Year since he won has been incorrectly assigned.