NBA Defensive Player of The Year: 5 Players who missed out
Defensive Player of the Year is one of the trickiest awards to hand out each year. MVP, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved and Sixth Man of the Year all have a pretty clear set of criteria as well as having stats and overall team record as an easy measuring stick.
DPOY is a bit different, as there are no basic stats to show a player's defensive impact. Steals and blocks are the closest we have, but even though don't tell a full story; bad defenders - usually point guards - regularly come close to leading the league in steals for no reason other than they are near the ball a lot, while players can boost their shot blocking numbers while simultaneously enraging their coach for being out of position.
It's difficult to pick a winner, but that doesn't change the fact that a handful of worthy players have never won the award. Here are the best five defenders to never be voted the top defender in the league.
#5 LeBron James
Before he started coasting in the regular season and waiting for the playoffs to give his all, LeBron was an incredible defender in the regular season and came runner-up to Marc Gasol for DPOY in 2013.
Gasol was a tremendous defender, and he wasn't an unworthy recipient, but the decision looked awful when Gasol was then voted to the all-defensive second team rather than the first. Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler BOTH had more all-defensive votes than Gasol and shared the center position on the first team as a result.
In the middle of his career with Miami, LeBron was at his athletic peak, which meant his defensive prowess was at an all-time high. Nobody in the league could defend all over the floor like LeBron could. He could defend in the backcourt, on the perimeter, in the post, he closed-out shooters, and he was a phenomenal rim protector for a forward.
He won MVP in the same year, and voter fatigue definitely affected his ability to outshine Gasol among the DPOY voters. He could have been just the fifth player in history to win both awards in the same year, joining an illustrious list of Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Kevin Garnett.
Gasol was a good winner, but LeBron would have been a better one. Gasol won the award with 30 first-place votes and 212 total points ahead of LeBron with 18 first-place votes and 149 total points. The advanced defensive metrics look to be in Gasol's favour, but to see the DPOY go on to miss out on all-defensive first team selection must have stung for LeBron.