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Monday, November 26, 2007

Kobe's New Goal This Year: Defensive Player of the Year

Kobe Bryant has been considered one of the NBA's best defensive players for years, making the All-Defensive Team every season since 1999-2000 except for his injury plagued 2004-05 campaign. NBA coaches voted him to the All-Defensive First Team last season, ignoring critics who sniped that Bryant's game slipped a bit at that end of the court. This summer, Bryant was clearly the best defensive player as Team USA rolled through the FIBA Americas tournament and he intends to use that performance as a springboard toward winning his first Defensive Player of the Year award. Several perimeter players won the award in the 1980s and 1990s--including Michael Jordan and Gary Payton--but in recent years it has tended to go to the league's best defensive big man. Another challenge for Bryant is that--unlike Team USA--the Lakers need for him to shoulder a big scoring burden. Bryant believes that some subtle differences in how the Lakers play this season will enable him to score at a high rate while still expending a lot of energy at the defensive end of the court: "You rarely see me in isolations. There's more coming off screens and catching and shooting. There's more ball movement. I try to put a lot of responsibility on my teammates to make more decisions, make more plays at the offensive end, so I don't have to do that. In the long run, I think that's going to make us a better team."

Many interesting story lines are already developing this season, including the rise of the Celtics, the continued excellence of the Spurs and Dwight Howard helping to transform the Magic into contenders. This could lead to a very competitive MVP race, with past winners Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Tim Duncan (an outside shot in recent years due to his limited minutes) battling LeBron James--who is channeling Michael Jordan's 1989 triple double efforts--Kobe Bryant--who could join Michael Jordan (1988) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994) as the only players to win MVP and DPoY in the same season--and Kevin Garnett, the 2004 MVP who will receive a lot of consideration due to his all around numbers and the Celtics' great record.

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:41 PM

6 comments

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6 Comments:

At Tuesday, November 27, 2007 2:22:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

Kobe's renewed effort on defense has been very noticeable.

I think it is more difficult for a perimeter player to win DPOY because shot-blocking big men have more of an impact on defense. An elite perimeter defender can lock his man down, but his defensive impact on players his is not directly guarding will depend a lot upon the defensive abilities of his teammates. An elite interior defender can more easily have an impact reaching beyond the man he is guarding by closing down the vicinity of the basket with his shot-blocking ability.

 
At Tuesday, November 27, 2007 2:40:00 PM, Blogger Paul Niemeyer said...

I adore Kobe for being selected to the All-Defensive Team at the age of only 21. In contrast: Allen Iverson received his first All-D-Spot at the age of 24.

 
At Tuesday, November 27, 2007 3:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

i havent seen all laker gmae but the ones i have seen kobe is playing better defense than last year but he is not going to win dpoy becasue guard dont have impact as big man do ron artest will be up there kevin garnet guys like that kobe good defender he is not winning dpoy

 
At Tuesday, November 27, 2007 5:34:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Paul:

Iverson has never been selected to the All-Defensive Team. He did make the All-NBA Team at the age of 24.

 
At Tuesday, November 27, 2007 5:53:00 PM, Blogger Paul Niemeyer said...

DF:

Thank you, i was already wondering how Iverson could have made this team...sorry ;-)

 
At Tuesday, November 27, 2007 6:04:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Paul:

Iverson has led the NBA in steals three times and he won two Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards (1995 and 1996), so perhaps you were thinking of those things.

 

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