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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Howard, Bryant Lead All-Defensive Team Voting

Media members vote for most of the annual NBA awards but the All-Defensive Team is selected by the league's head coaches. It is interesting to hear "stat gurus" and self-proclaimed experts pontificate about who the NBA's best defenders are and then see who the coaches--the people who actually make up game plans and therefore know which players they can attack and which players cause them problems--select for the All-Defensive Team. This season, Dwight Howard--the media's choice for Defensive Player of the Year--led the way in All-Defensive Team voting with 55 points (two points for each First Team vote, one point for each Second Team vote), appearing on 28 of 29 ballots (there are not 30 ballots because coaches cannot vote for their own players). Kobe Bryant placed second with 53 points but he was the only player who appeared on all 29 ballots, earning 24 First Team votes. LeBron James (22 First Team votes, three Second Team votes), Chris Paul (15 First Team votes, six Second Team votes) and Kevin Garnett (13 First Team votes, nine Second Team votes) round out the First Team, while Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Shane Battier and Ron Artest made the Second Team.

The official All-Defensive Team largely mirrors my choices (Howard, Bryant, Wade, James and Artest on the First Team; Chris Andersen, Paul, Jason Kidd, Battier and Duncan on the Second Team): I selected eight of the same 10 players as the coaches did and three of my five First Team choices earned First Team nods from the coaches; I disagreed slightly with the coaches by placing Wade on the First Team and Paul on the Second Team. Last year I also chose eight of the same 10 players as the coaches and I matched four of their five First Team choices.

As I mentioned in my post about this topic, the player who I most regretted leaving off was Rondo; I took Kidd over him because Kidd can defend multiple positions while Rondo usually only defends point guards. Kidd received one First Team vote and one Second Team vote. I am a little surprised that Garnett made the team; he missed 25 games and the Celtics posted a good record without him. I would not vote for anyone who missed nearly a third of the season. If I had considered him to be eligible then I would have chosen him but my pick for that slot was Andersen, who only received one Second Team vote. Andersen does not play heavy minutes but he ranked second in the league in blocked shots and I think that he has had at least as much effect on Denver's defense as the more celebrated Chauncey Billups has had (Billups received five Second Team votes).

This is Bryant's seventh First Team selection and fourth in a row; he has also made the Second Team twice. Howard, Paul and Battier each made the Second Team last year (the first time any of them were chosen for either team). This is Garnett's eighth First Team selection in addition to two Second Team selections; last year, the media chose him as the Defensive Player of the Year. James is making his first appearance on the All-Defensive Team, as is Rondo. Wade earned a Second Team selection in 2005. Duncan has now earned eight First Team selections and four Second Team selections. Artest, the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year, has now made the First Team twice and the Second Team twice.

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:26 AM

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