Bryant and Garnett Each Earn All-Defensive First Team Honors for the Ninth TimeThree-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard earned unanimous selection to the 2011 All-Defensive Team, receiving 27 First Team votes and two Second Team votes in balloting conducted among the league's 30 head coaches (coaches are not permitted to vote for their own players). Howard has thus been recognized as the league's top defender by members of the media (who vote for the Defensive Player of the Year) and by the coaches.
After not making either squad last season, a revitalized Kevin Garnett received First Team honors for a record-tying ninth time; Kobe Bryant made the First Team for the ninth time overall and the sixth season in a row. Michael Jordan and Gary Payton are the only other nine-time members of the All-Defensive First Team. Tim Duncan holds the all-time mark with 13 total All-Defensive Team selections (including eight First Team nods), followed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (11), Bobby Jones (11, including two ABA selections), Kobe Bryant (10), Kevin Garnett (10) and Scottie Pippen (10). The NBA has selected All-Defensive Teams each season since 1969-70, while the ABA selected an All-Defensive Team (one five man unit only, not two five man units) from 1972-73 through 1975-76.
LeBron James and Rajon Rondo are the other First Team selections; James made the First Team for the third straight year, while this is Rondo's second consecutive First Team selection (Rondo made the Second Team in 2009).
Defense is half of the game and yet even many "stat gurus" acknowledge that "advanced basketball statistics" do not precisely measure individual defense. "Stat gurus," media members and fans each have certain biases and these various biases become quite pronounced regarding defense precisely because defense is so hard to quantify and because most observers do not have a sophisticated (or even basic) understanding of NBA defense on a team or individual level. Scientists have spent more than 50 years and hundreds of millions of dollars to repeatedly verify arguably the most successful theory of all time (Einstein's Theory of Relativity), so it is mystifying that "stat gurus" appear to be completely disinterested in experimentally verifying their "advanced basketball statistics"; even more troubling is that "stat gurus" largely disregard the reality that many of the basic box score numbers are subjective or even just wrong: I have repeatedly provided evidence that assist totals are inaccurate and I strongly suspect that there are similar problems with defensive numbers like steals and blocked shots (not to mention the fact that the league is not even attempting to quantify many of the most important important aspects of team defense, such as switching, hedging, double-teaming and so forth). The raw box score numbers are both flawed and incomplete, yet the "stat gurus" stubbornly insist that they alone possess the full truth about how to evaluate NBA players.
My All-Defensive Team choices are usually very similar to the official selections (the coaches agreed with eight of my 10 picks in each of the past three seasons: 2008, 2009 and 2010) while differing from the opinions expressed by "stat gurus," media members and other self-proclaimed experts. This season, six of my 10 All-Defensive Team choices matched the coaches' choices, including all five of my First Team picks plus the selection of Tyson Chandler as the Second Team center; the coaches rounded out their Second Team with Tony Allen, Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala and Joakim Noah while I preferred Thabo Sefolosha, Grant Hill, Tim Duncan and Gerald Wallace. I rejected Allen because he barely averaged 20 mpg and I simply did not think that Paul was quite as effective defensively as he was in previous seasons. I mentioned Noah as a quite viable Second Team honoree and I feel the same way about Iguodala; they each totaled 15 points (players receive two points for each First Team vote and one point for each Second Team vote) and were thus the last players to make the cut, just ahead of Dwyane Wade (14 points), Russell Westbrook (13) and a quartet of players who received 11 points each: Wallace, Hill, Luol Deng (another player who I gave an honorable mention) and Duncan. Sefolosha, a member of the Second Team last season, received just five Second Team votes.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:30 AM