Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
In a league where defense seems to take a backseat to great offensive players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, picking the defensive player of the year is no easy task, but the award is no longer dominated by guards anymore as the award almost certainly goes to big men every single season.
Here are this season candidates for Defensive Player of the Year:
Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee Bucks
This season has been a breath of fresh air for the Milwaukee Bucks as they have gone from one of the worst teams in the league to a mid of the pack playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
Many people believe that the reason for the team’s resurgence has been the addition of rookie phenom point guard Brandon Jennings. The young kid out of high school taken the league by storm after playing a season in Italy in order to prepare for the NBA and make some money while being ineligible for the NBA.
Even though Jennings has been a huge boost for the Bucks, center Andrew Bogut has also played a huge part as he has really come into his own this season, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Bogut’s numbers this season: 15.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg and 2.5 bpg (second in the league)
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been arguably the best team in league this season and legitimate title contenders once again.
Obviously all eyes head toward LeBron James as he is the frontrunner for the MVP award for the second season in a row and has improved his play on the offensive end of the floor this season with a shot at winning the scoring title.
LeBron is a great defender, but not the best defender on his team as Anderson Varejao has that distinction as he is arguably the most underrated player in the NBA.
Varejao’s numbers this season: 8.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 0.9 bpg
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
This season the Atlanta Hawks have gone from a perennial playoff team to a legitimate title contenders as all the pieces of the puzzle have started to come together.
A lot of the Hawks success this season has been a attributed to a few things like the addition of Jamal Crawford, leadership of Joe Johnson and the defensive prowess of big man Josh Smith who has dominated the paint this season.
Smith’s numbers this season: 15.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, and 2.1 bpg
Ron Artest, Los Angeles Lakers
The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers came into this season with high hopes of repeating as NBA champs as they were able to keep their championship team relatively intact, but also got a huge addition on the defensive end with one of the best defenders to ever play this game in Ron Artest.
Even though Artest may have not exactly lived up to expectations since joining the Lakers, he has really started to come on strong in the second half of the NBA season and has really shown what he can do to improve the already dominant squad.
Artest’s numbers this season: 11.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 1.44 spg
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Last season there was no doubting that the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard would win the Defensive Player of the Year award and this season is no different as the big man is dominating the paint once again!
Not only is Howard dominating the glass this season with a league leading 13.4 rebounds per game, but he is also the most feared player in the paint on defense with 2.8 blocks per game in which he is also leading the league.
I can’t see any of these other dominant defenders beating Howard in the race for this award.
Howard’s numbers this season: 18.4 ppg, 13.4 rpg (league leader) and 2.8 (league leader)