Andre Iguodala didn’t make the NBA’s All-Defensive first or second team, and shortly after voting was released, he tweeted:
It’s easy to see why Iguodala would expect to make an All-Defensive team. Iguodala finished ahead of one first-team guard (Chris Paul) and both second-team guards (Avery Bradley and Mike Conley) in Defensive Player of the Year voting, but coaches voted on All-Defensive teams and the media chose Defensive Player of the Year.
Did the league’s coaches conspire against Iguodala? Potentially. I wouldn’t expect coaches with much more important responsibilities to take these selections seriously, and I can easily see them trading favors with their votes.
But it seems like the real political slight came form the NBA.
Iguodala received more voting points (16) than second-team center Marc Gasol (12). As a matter of fact, so did Larry Sanders (16) and Thabo Sefolosha (15).
As guards, Iguodala and Sefolosha were stuck behind second-team guards Bradley (25) and Conley (19). Likewise, Paul George (27) is locked into one forward spot, so that prevented Iguodala from sliding in there.
But with center and the remaining forward spot, the NBA had wiggle room on the second team.
We know the NBA classified Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah as centers, because they’re listed that way on the first team. We also know Gasol is a center, because that’s his position on the second team. Two other players who received votes, Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert, are also certainly centers. Those five combined to receive 27/30 first-team votes and 21/30 second-team votes.
The only other realistic possibilities to get center votes are first-team forward Serge Ibaka, second-team forward Tim Duncan and Sanders.
Why is Sanders a center? Well, the Bucks list him as a center and a center only. Nobody else in Milwaukee’s six-most used players was a center, so it’s not like Sanders had to play out of position, either. He’s a center.
Duncan and Ibaka defend both forwards and center, so they could have slid into either position. Duncan’s flexibility gave the NBA multiple options for second-team center and the forward spot next to George.
Option 1 (what the league did):
- F: Duncan (20)
- C: Gasol (12)
Option 2 (what the league should have done):
- F: Duncan (20)
- C: Sanders (16)
Option 3: (what the league could have done):
- F: Iguodala (16)
- C: Duncan (20)
Options 2 and 3 were both better than Option 1, so Iguodala seems correct that he could have fared better if politics didn’t work against him. But if politics – or any other should-have-been-irrelevant factors – disrupted voting, Sanders got the biggest slight.
Really, if the NBA wanted to be completely fair, a tiebreaker would have been used to separate Chandler and Noah, who tied for first-team center. Rather than naming a six-man first team and a five-man second team, the NBA could have made one the second-team center and honored 10 players as designed. In that case, Gasol, Sanders and Iguodala would all have missed the second team.
Instead, the NBA honored an extra player. It just chose the wrong one.