Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Battier Better Win This Year

You might remember that my choice for Defensive Player of the Year last year was Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets. I felt that he was the primary reason that the Rockets were the league's best defensive team and one of the smartest and most versatile defensive players in the league. I could live with Tim Duncan as the choice, but was dismayed to see Marcus Camby (one of the worst pick-and-roll defenders I've seen) get the award for his blocked shot stats and Bruce Bowen take Battier's spot on the All-Defensive team because of his reputation.

This year? I'm thinking things might be different. The Rockets are once again a dominant defensive team and this time, the stars might be aligned for the former Blue Devil will the wrinkled forehead.

For starters, Bowen has lost about 14 steps and has continued to be exposed as a dirty cheap shot artist. Plus, the Spurs as a team have slipped a little defensively, so Duncan isn't really in the mix. Josh Smith blocks shots like a maniac, but he's undisciplined and doesn't have the reputation of many veterans.

That leaves only Camby. And this time, perception might work the other way. The Nuggets are actually a pretty fair defensive team, but because they play at the fastest pace in the league and therefore give up a lot of points, they've come to be known for playing poor defense. So even though Camby might actually be better this year than last year, voters might be reluctant to give it to someone from Denver. Plus, the mere fact that he won the award last year might prompt someone to spread the love.

The other major factor is that Battier finally got the national platform he needed when he hounded Kobe Bryant into 11-for-33 shooting. The "hand in the face" technique has been shown over and over in freeze frame and by now, everyone has seen and marveled at not only the intelligence (why don't more people think of this?) but also the coordination (it can't be easy to come within a few inches of someone's head time after time after time).

The hype machine is fired up now and it could be just what Battier needs to take home some overdue hardware.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Weird that you don't mention Dwight Howard when talking about "best defensive players" especially when he is in the top echelon in almost all defensive categories this year. Agreed the team as a unit is not defensive minded but we ARE talking about Defensive "player" right?