Race to Defensive Player of the Year
By Mike Begley
The old cliché goes “defense wins championships.” I say 4,400 arena club seats win championships. But getting back to basketball; offense and defense are equal denominators. The aim is not necessarily to score at an ease greater than the opponent. The aim is to score more than the opponent in any way possible. Some teams focus on the boards striving for more shot attempts but this is a rather boring approach predicated on having more chances to miss shots. Most teams focus on great offense perhaps not fully realizing that only one player can shoot at a time and multiple great scorers leads to diminishing returns.
As such, few teams consistently focus on defense. There is only one team that comes to mind, the Cancun Outlaws. Despite any offensive shortcomings this franchise consistently fields a top defensive team.
But let us get to this race for the defensive player of the year. To be fair to all teams have analyzed each team’s best defensive player and added them to the field, using the qualifications of best defensive efficiency per 100 possessions on the team, with at least 20 minutes per game. This simple formula allows us to clearly examine which player on the court is disrupting the offensive team enough to prevent the opposing team from scoring the basket.
Now, let us pour on some of that hater-ade.
Defensive efficiency: 110
While giving up 110 points per game should not be a badge of honor, this mark is the team’s best and in stark contrast to Amaury De Schutter’s 116 opponents points per game. I am rambling now, but it is De Schutter’s 3rd season, and he has not made a progression as a difference maker for this team. Unfortunately, it looks like Amaury is turning into a bust. Armstrong is likely the strongest link on this team right now with his steady post defense and consistent supply of blocks and steals.
Kansas City Blues
Defensive efficiency: 107.9
Normally a player as dominant as Sims should be in consideration for defensive player of the year but a 36-35 record, together with giving up 108 points per game, is nothing to write home about. As such I am holding my praise towards Jeremy Sims until he can start to move the win needle for his team in the right direction. Granted, it is a lot of ground to make up for when covering for Omar Jefferson’s shoddy defense.
Defensive efficiency: 102.9
Hometown favorite Edgardo Blanco may not put up the flashy numbers but his team best 102.9 defensive rating goes to show it is not all about the numbers. This is a good indicator for the second year guard who some suspected might have been a bust after an underwhelming rookie performance. Much too early to be considered defensive player of the year but at twenty one certainly is on the right direction to get there one day.
Defensive efficiency: 106.4
On a team known for its offensive punch, any site of defense is a welcome site. Here, Holmes is earning 15 million off the bench to bring that defensive presence. But at only 27 minutes a game it is hard to create a huge dent on the overall team’s defense. Could we see the Counts freeing Holmes in the playoffs to embrace a larger role as defensive stopper?
Defensive efficiency: 108.2
Hobbs’ team best defensive rating goes to show how important a low post defender is to the team. Although the Devils are clearly out of the playoff race, when Hobbs and Debuisnes are in the game they can compete.
Defensive efficiency: 108.5
Redd is having a nice season leading the team on defensive efficiency and second on the team on offensive efficiency. However, the Dinos are not having a nice season as they routinely fall apart on the road with an 8-27 record. Is there any night life in Canada for the team to implode on the road in this way?
Defensive efficiency: 108.9
Cetus we meet again and while you are helping your team on the defensive end with your team’s best defensive rating you are also hurting your team on the offensive end with the team’s worst offensive rating, so again we come to this fork in the road. You have much to learn young grasshopper.
Defensive efficiency: 109
At one point Walter Walter had a lot of promise. Now his claim to fame is having the best defensive rating on the second worst team in the league.
Salt Lake City Fanatics
Defensive efficiency: 100.4
Quite exceptional for a young rookie to possess a defensive rating this high with regular minutes. Leonard also made our list for potential rookie of the year. And there is something here with this kid. He tends to make his team play well even if he is not averaging mega steals or blocks. Maybe he is just a real nice guy who allows his teammates to play better.
California Fighting Cocks
Defensive efficiency: 93
Former league rebounds leader, and multiple all-defensive team selection, at 34 years old, Wally may not be the monster he once was but is enough of a terror to possess the team’s best defensive rating on the 2nd best team in the league. For this alone, he should garner some votes for all defensive team.
New York Firestorm
Defensive efficiency: 111
Disclaimer: Mike Begley is not advocating Charles Fisher receive votes for defensive player of the year. Someone on this team had to qualify for the best defensive rating with at least 20 minutes per game and that lucky guy was Charles. Charles is 6’9’’ and this occasionally causes opponents to miss shots when he raises his arms in the air and waves them in a threatening manner.
Defensive efficiency: 115.8
Sorry the Fugu are the worst defensive team in the league and Hugo’s team best 115.8 defensive rating is atrocious. In what depths of Dante’s defensive inferno would the Fugu be without those 1.8 blocks?
Defensive efficiency: 105.3
At 21 years, Onibiyo is quickly establishing himself as a proficient defender with a team leading defensive rating as a rookie. In a few seasons we could be seeing a potential defender of the year. The sky is the limit.
Las Vegas Gamblers
Defensive efficiency: 108.5
Sewell is the epitome of the WBA journeyman. However, it shows why he always seems to find a home. It seems he helps the team with his quickness and solid play. With a team best defensive rating he is no defender of the year candidate but it goes to show how a good defender need not flashy stats.
Los Angeles Gargoyles
Defensive efficiency: 109.1
Former rebounds leader, Chad Nolan may not have earned his 21 million price tag but is at least demonstrating he can help keep his team in the game with his array of steals and blocks.
Defensive efficiency: 105
No one is sure what went wrong in Gabon losing so many nail biters. But you cannot blame Brenden Avery who has had an efficient year and a team best defensive rating. Somewhere Bobbie Mason is carrying a guilty conscience.
Mexico City Hellcats
Defensive efficiency: 104.5
It comes as no surprise Ryan Rogers; former league blocks and rebounds leader possesses the top defensive rating for the Hellcats. What is surprising is that he has never made a WBA all-defensive team. With the Hellcats recent surge in the standings this may be the year for Rogers to earn his due respect among the greats.
Defensive efficiency: 105.4
Yoshi is another enigma who has his teams best defensive rating yet worst offensive rating. If one offsets the other then there is no point to being on the floor. Despite stellar defense if there was an all worse offensive player Yoshi may be the pick.
Defensive efficiency: 101.1
Marcus Rogers earned his first all-defensive second team selection last season, and this year has kept the momentum going leading the Honeybees in defensive rating. Rogers can defend both the perimeter and post and this versatility moves him to consideration for defender of the year.
Defensive efficiency: 96.7
Casey is a point guard but plays like a bruising small forward and is leading a physical Massacre team in defensive rating. Perhaps he does not bring the flashy defensive numbers but most definitely worth consideration for all defensive team consideration.
Defensive efficiency: 104
For years Everidge was Milan’s glue guy that kept the team united. Now he is taken on a larger role and leads the team in defensive rating while playing efficiently on both ends of the floor. Everidge can do it all and defensive is only one facet of his game.
Defensive efficiency: 100.2
In my mind there is no better defender who can equally shut down a point guard or center. This kind of chess like maneuvering is what makes the Outlaws so dangerous in the playoffs with their famed defensive adjustments. Trent is in the league’s leaders in both steals and blocks as he leads the Outlaws to another playoff berth and potential home court advantage.
Defensive efficiency: 98.8
The Pioneers are an elite defensive squad with Henderson in the lineup. This level drops considerably when Wilmer Zamora is in the lineup. It is too bad Hendersons’s low stamina prevents him from playing more minutes. This will hurt the Pioneers in the playoffs.
Defensive efficiency: 104.5
Harrelson is one of the league’s most underrated perimeter defenders who is manning the power forward position at 6’6’’ shutting down all stretch fours around the league. His defense may not be flashy but contesting shots never has been a thing that makes GSPN highlights.
Defensive efficiency: 90.4
In an MVP level season, and the league’s best two player, Miles is showing why he deserves his first defensive player of the year accolade. As a defender, Miles is in the league’s top ten in both steals and blocks and possesses the league’s best defensive rating. Hands down, there is no competition.
Defensive efficiency: 111.4
The Rainmakers are a struggling defensive team, but Justice Grant helps keep them together a bit by standing 7’3’’ in the middle. When Grant is in the game it remains close but once Lucien Poirier steps in we have a blowout. Is this enough for defender of the year?
Defensive efficiency: 105
No one really thinks of Chris Acklin as a defender, but the kid can do it all. It is interesting to note that when Kenyatta is in the game the team thrives best offensively but when Acklin is in the team is at its best defensively. This is an interesting team that perhaps has underachieved a bit this season. Let us see if they can find the right rotation in the playoffs.
Fort Worth Warriors
Defensive efficiency: 107
No doubt Dragunas is a top defender in this league. When he is in the game the team is at its top form defensively and outscores the opposing team by over five points. However, when Feldman comes into the game, the fans start to sweat and order more beer.
Defensive efficiency: 112
The Xtreme are not a good defensive team. Nonetheless, Castellano is an intriguing defender who is a superb shot-blocker at the guard position. The future of the Xtreme is in his hands.
Cape Town Zulus
Defensive efficiency: 100.1
Dufour is an exception to our requirements as he has only played ten minutes a game. However, the stats stand out so glaringly that he had to be mentioned. Dufour not only leads Cape Town in defensive rating but also in plus minus per 36 minutes. Cape Town is at its best not only defensively but overall, when Dufour is in the game. As a former developmental league champion, all defensive team and blocks leader, the only question that remains is why is Dufour still only getting 10 minutes a game?
There you have it folks the best defender on each team. It is up to the WBA afficionados to make their selection for defender of the year. As I see it we cannot go wrong with either Jarius Miles or Clement Trentesols. It’s not just about defense or offense, rebounds or passing, it’s a bit of everything to make this soup taste good.