Joakim Noah did not win Defensive Player of the Year. Marc Gasol did.
And deservedly so.
Gasol was fifth in the league in Defensive Rating and second overall in Defensive Win Shares. He averaged 1.7 blocks per game and 1.0 steals. Perhaps most importantly, the Memphis Grizzlies held opponents to 88.7 points per game, the lowest mark in the league.
The video doesn’t lie: this guy is an elite defender both in terms of individual defense and team defense. He absolutely anchors the Memphis defense.
Of course, all the same things can be said of Joakim Noah. Chicago’s Game 2 win over the Nets proved it beyond any shadow of a doubt. And back in January, Noah was certainly one of the leading candidates for this particular honor.
Unfortunately, Noah developed a case of plantar faciitis and started missing games, a total 16 in all. Typically speaking, players who miss chunks of the season due to injury don’t win NBA end-of-year awards.
Still, Noah made a good showing, receiving 13 first-place votes and earning a total of 107 points. He placed fourth behind Gasol (212), LeBron James (149) and Serge Ibaka (122).
Not bad company to be in all things considered.
The big man didn’t seem too broken up about not winning the award.
Said Noah: “It’s all right. It’s not about that right now. It’s not about individual accolades or any of that. All my energy is on Game 3 right now. We put ourselves in a pretty good position. Now we’ve got home court. That’s what it’s all about. I’m not really worried about it.”
Did I mention Noah has also said he feels better and expects to play about as many minutes in Game 3 as he did in Game 2?
For what it’s worth, Luol Deng received a single first-place vote and Jimmy Butler got a second-place vote.