Are the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Awards Decided Upon Appropriately?

The NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award has been around since 1983. As far as honors go in the league, it is the defensive equivalent of the Most Valuable Player Award.

While teams cannot win without putting points up on the board, most analysts feel that a strong defense is necessary for a team to win a championship.  At the very least, defense in the game of basketball is just as important as the offense.

But is this prestigious award given to the most deserving candidate each year? Are the greatest defensive players recognized on a consistent basis? The evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

Part of the issue is based on how the award is decided upon. Each year, the winner is selected by a panel of 124 sports broadcasters and analysts throughout the United States and Canada.

Unlike the All-Defensive Team that is selected by NBA coaches who see up-close the best defensive players in the game on a nightly basis, sportswriters and broadcasters are one step removed from the game. It is possible, without fully realizing the impact players have on the defensive end of the court, that they could be swayed by impressive defensive stats and crowd-pleasing plays.

In my opinion, a great defender at any position on the court can excel at both help defense and one-on-one defense. The best players can play well in their team’s defensive system and also be assigned to slow down the opposing team’s best scorers.


But it is odd when one looks at the winners of the Defensive-Player-of-the-Year Award. During the first few years, the award was given out to players at a variety of positions. This included Sidney Montcrief (shooting guard), Mark Eaton (center), Alvin Robertson (guard), Michael Cooper (guard/forward), and Dennis Rodman (power forward).

In the 19 years since 1992, however, a center has been the winner 16 times. These players includ...

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