Draymond Green is our pick for Kia Defensive Player of the Year thanks to his all-around stopping skills and role in Golden State
POSTED: Apr 14, 2015 10:22 AM ET
Draymond Green for DPOY
John Schuhmann picks Golden State's Draymond Green as his 2014-15 Kia Defensive Player of the Year.
"Defense wins championships" is not a cliche. While you're not going anywhere without offensive talent, the numbers back up the idea that the defensive end of the floor is the more important one. Great defenses have more postseason success than great offenses.
So, while the Golden State Warriors' offense can be incredibly explosive and entertaining (like in the second quarter on Monday vs. the Memphis Grizzlies), their defense has been the backbone of their league-best 66-15 record. They've ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency all season and will finish there for the first time in almost 40 years.
There are several elements to success of the Warriors' defense. It's part scheme -- their switching that stifles dribble penetration -- and part personnel. That personnel includes a plus-defender in the backcourt, one of the league's best rim protectors, and one of the league's best perimeter defenders on the bench.
Green Denies Kanter
Enes Kanter spins off Draymond Green for the reverse, but Green recovers and swats it out of bounds.
"He's the key figure," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told NBA.com in February, "because as the power forward, he's frequently involved in screen-and-rolls. And because he's quick enough and active enough to switch out onto a point guard, we're able to stifle a lot of the first options out of the opponent's attacks. And when that happens and the shot clock starts to wind down, we're able to stay in front of people and force a tough shot."
According to SportVU tracking data, Warriors opponents have scored only 0.92 points per pick-and-roll possession when Green has been the man defending the screener, a rate which ranks second among 104 players who have been the screener's defender on at least 500 screens.
Green Rejects Thompson
Draymond Green goes up strong to reject Tristan Thompson's dunk attempt.
The Warriors are at their best defensively with both Bogut and Green on the floor. But while Bogut has missed 15 games and played less than 24 minutes per contest, Green has missed just three and averaged almost 32 minutes. He's not only a key to the success of the Warriors' starting lineup, but also a vital cog on their second unit.
In 1,214 minutes with Bogut off the floor and Green on it, the Warriors have allowed just 97.0 points per 100 possessions, a mark that would still lead the league. That's the biggest reason why Green is our pick for Defensive Player of the Year.
Here are four more candidates (in alphabetical order) worthy of consideration:
GameTime: Tony Allen
Brevin Knight shows what having Tony Allen in the starting line-up means to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Allen's teammate Marc Gasol won the award the following season, but Allen continues to personify the Grizzlies' defense-first identity better than anybody else. And it's not a coincidence that the Grizzlies have struggled with Allen (strained hamstring) out of the lineup over the last couple of weeks. After Monday's loss at Golden State, they're 8-10 without him.
Memphis has allowed 94.9 points per 100 possessions with Allen on the floor and 103.7 with him off. That drop-off of 8.8 points per 100 possessions is the largest defensive differential for any player that's logged at least 1,000 minutes for a single team.
The Grizzlies still don't know who they'll face in the first round of the playoffs. But more important than who they play is the health of Allen.
Bogut Swats Howard
Andrew Bogut blocks Dwight Howard's shot during the first quarter.
Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors: According to SportVU data, Bogut ranks as the second best rim protector in the league and as a top-10 pick-and-roll defender. According to Synergy, he ranks as a top-10 post-up defender. He's the anchor of a starting lineup that has allowed less than 95 points per 100 possessions over 806 minutes.
The Warriors have been right to limit Bogut's minutes to keep him fresh for the playoffs. He broke a rib in the last week of the regular season last year and missed their first round series against the Clippers, in which they got scorched by the L.A. offense. But his limited minutes hurts his Defensive Player of the Year campaign.
Gobert Blocks Amar'e
Rudy Gobert plays some tough defense on Stoudemire, and even Amar'e has to respect it.
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz: When the Jazz traded Enes Kanter and replaced him in the starting lineup with Gobert, it was like ditching the Pinto they've been driving to and from work and deciding to drive their Mercedes, previously saved for the weekends, full-time. With the league's best rim protector seeing a 60 percent increase in his minutes, Utah has had, by far, the league's best defense since the All-Star break. Gobert will win this award at some point, maybe next year, and maybe multiple times after that.
Leonard Picks Curry's Pocket
Kawhi Leonard picks Stephen Curry's pocket and takes it the other way for the finish.
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs: It is unsafe to dribble the ball anywhere near Leonard and his big paws. The Spurs' defense has been strong all season, but it's been more than five points per 100 possessions better with Leonard on the floor than with him off it. He leads the league in steals, but more importantly, he's the man tasked with defending the best players in the league. If he had played a full season, the award could be his. But he's logged about 500 fewer minutes than Green, making it difficult to slot him at No. 1 on the ballot.
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