Defensive Player of the Year: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Perhaps the most wide-open race is for that of Defensive Player of the Year, as three players can stake their claim to the award.
Memphis’ Marc Gasol is having a great season and the Grizzlies defense has allowed fewer points per game (89.5) than any team in the league. They are much better when the fifth-year pro is on the floor. Gasol is averaging 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game- not gaudy numbers, but he is the anchor of one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.
It’s also hard not to consider Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders.
There is not a player in the league who has a greater impact on his team’s defense than Sanders. He averages 2.86 blocks per game, which is good for second in the league, but his true value is revealed opponents’ field goal percentage, as the opposition field goal percentage drops more than 10 percent when Sanders is within five feet of the basket.
But having said all of that, the award goes to Noah.
No player in the league not named LeBron James works harder at the defensive end of the floor than Noah. In addition he has the numbers to back up that claim, averaging 11.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He impacts the game in a big way defensively and has the numbers worth enough to capture the award.
Runner’s Up: Gasol, Sanders, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett