This is part two of a two part award post from What’s Left on The Floor. This post will feature the Defensive Player of the year award, Coach of the year award, and Rookie of the year award.
Defensive Player of The Year
- Marc Gasol
- Roy Hibbert
- Tim Duncan
- Joakim Noah
- Paul George
Really, this award came down to the games that these guys played in respectively. All of them are grand defensively and have solid cases, but only Marc Gasol and Roy Hibbert have the combination of a good defense around them and minutes played.
Marc Gasol wins this award with his stellar rim and paint defending. He isn’t the type of guy you can keep out on guards defensively for more than three seconds, but he moves around the paint with quickness and has the frame to deter any shot. His contests are impossible to get around making it almost impossible to score in the paint when playing Memphis. When Gasol is on the court the Grizzlies are 6.2 points better defensively. They allow 99.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Without him, its a meager 105.5 which is good for just below the league average of 105.9.
Roy Hibbert is the next best guy because he’s played in the same amount of games. He has a similar impact on the Pacers defensively, but he only plays 28.7 minutes per game. Hibbert’s presence defensively is well felt, but the Pacers don’t suffer much without him on the floor. His on/off numbers only result in a differential of -1.6. The Pacers still have a top two defense without Hibbert on the floor unlike Gasol.
For Noah and Duncan, neither player has played above 70 games. They’ve both been two of the best defensive players in the league–especially Noah with his ability to guard the perimeter. He isn’t as good at protecting the rim as Duncan is but he’s made up for it with his length and ability to stop players on the perimeter. And just because he’s not as good as Duncan at protecting the rim doesn’t mean that he’s bad at it–he’s actually quite good. He’s averaging 2.2 blocks per game and that isn’t counting the shots that Noah changes.
For George, he isn’t going to win this award because he’s a perimeter player. No, that’s not fair, but its the truth. He doesn’t have as much responsibility on the defensive end as big players do, but for him to make the top five on this list is a feat in its own. George has the uncanny ability to play passing lanes while staying with his man because of his 6’10 frame. George leads the league in defensive win shares and has a 97 defensive rating. Its fair to say that he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the league at this point.
Some guys who didn’t make the cut but are honorable mentions here are Omer Asik, Avery Bradley and Tony Allen. Omer Asik’s case is the most captivating because he’s an elite rim protector and a pretty good rebounder to boot. Because of the Rockets terrible defensive reputation Asik doesn’t get considered much, but without him the Rockets defense gives up 112.7 points per 100 possessions. With him they only give up 105. Avery Bradley simply hasn’t played enough games to seriously be considered, though his impact on the defensive end for Boston has been as good as all of the other guys. I’d give him honorable mention, but he hasn’t played 60 games so it wouldn’t be fair for him to crack the top five. Tony Allen faces the same challenge that George does. Though his defensive ability is extremely impressive, his responsibility is not as much as the guys in the top five. He’d likely make the list if it was a top six, but sadly it isn’t.
Coach of The Year
- George Karl
- Erik Spoelstra
- Gregg Popovich
George Karl leads this group because of the season that the Nuggets had. Though they’ve been completely overshadowed by the Miami Heat’s streak, the Lakers failure and the Spurs consistency, Karl has done the best job of managing his team with no superstars to a 57 win season and a 38-3 record at home. This was after a stretch of mediocre basketball at the beginning of the season also. Karl managed this team and kept them at a certain pace throughout the first month of the season and while the Miami Heat were on a tear for their winning streak, the Nuggets were also. Its not easy winning 27 games in a row, but the Nuggets 15 game winning streak shouldn’t be overlooked either.
Erik Spoelstra is a close second to George Karl here. Of course, he’ll likely win the award after the Heat’s 27 game winning streak and rightfully so. He’s been the absolute best at managing James, Wade and Bosh and tailoring a perfect offensive plethora of weapons around them. His lineups are immaculate and he’s done a lot to maximize the talent around his three superstars. There isn’t a better coach in the NBA at creating and attacking cross-matchups in the league. The Miami Heat’s small-ball team is better than everyone else’s but a mile or two.
Popovich is on this list every single year and rightfully so. He’s done a great job this season of having the Spurs win consistently while also managing their minutes and maximizing their bench talent as well. The Spurs didn’t finish the season as well as they wanted to and that’s a contributing factor to him coming in third, but his season shouldn’t be downplayed at all. The Spurs have been one of the most consistent teams in the league in the last decade and that should rightfully keep him in this conversation.
Rookie of The Year
- Damian Lillard
- Anthony Davis
- Bradley Beal
Damian Lillard wins the rookie of the year and not really by default. Certainly, he was the only rookie this season who was able to stay healthy but he still had a very productive season. Sure, Lillard only shoots 43% from the field but he’s shooting 37% from beyond the arch while taking 6.1 threes per game. The three ball is more valuable than the two, obviously, and that’s how Lillard scores his 19 points per game. He’s got a lot of room to improve with his shot selection, but in terms of efficiency its really not as bad as it looks. All you have to do is look at his 54% True Shooting percentage for the proof.
With Davis, he’s obviously been the better rookie per game and would be a shoe-in for the award if he played more but he didn’t. He’s only played in 64 games all season long and even then he’s only playing 28.8 minutes per game. He’s been very shaky as far as his health goes, but when he’s on the floor he’s a stud. He has a 21.7 PER which is second among rookies–he’s trailing only Andre Drummond. He’s got a 56% True Shooting percentage and shoots 51% from the floor in general. Davis was pegged to be a defensive stud coming into the league but he’s shined on offense more than anything. His ability to play the screen and roll game is far and away advanced beyond his years. He’s got the ability to smoothly slip screens, set solid picks and even pop for the free throw line or baseline jumper. He’s an adept passer and knows how to give it up off of one dribble. Davis has a very, very bright future in the NBA.
Bradley Beal’s incredibly slow start to the season is really what held him back. He’s been a solid shooter all season long from three shooting 38% on 4.2 attempts per game, but his 41% field goal percentage isn’t good at all. That’s even after he went on a tear in the months of January, February and March. He shot 34% from the field in November and 37% from the field in December. It wasn’t until January that he picked things up shooting above 44% from the field and 42% from three for the rest of the season. His season was derailed by multiple injuries in the second half and he didn’t make it past the 60 game mark for the season. Beal has a bright future in the league, still. He’s already one of the better off-ball runners in the NBA. His knowledge of the routes and the balance of the floor is very unlike someone his age. The Washington Wizards have a very good player in this one.
This has been an extremely fun season and the best that I’ve ever watched. I’d like to thank you, the readers, for sticking with me through the ups and downs that I’ve gone through this year. Big thanks to 82games.com and basketball-reference.com for their statistical help with these award posts. Lets get ready for the playoffs now.