Gasol defends award with egalitarianism
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
If Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol had his way, his Defensive Player of the Year Award that has sparked great debate in NBA circles would look bear some resemblance to Frankenstein.
Without the bolts in the neck, of course, and with a whole lot more basketball IQ.
“That’s Mike Conley’s head, Tony Allen’s heart; it’s everybody’s award,” Gasol told USA TODAY Sports. “I told Mike and Tony that there’s a little bit of everybody in this award. I don’t take it like it’s mine. I know it says my name, but it says Memphis Grizzlies. If I played on any other team, it would not say my name. That’s how I feel. That’s the honest truth.”
As Gasol’s Grizzlies look to finish off the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 6 of their first-round series in Memphis on Friday night, his already-strong case for deserving the award grows stronger still while the chatter continues about what his situation says about the changed landscape in the league. At a time when the high-flyers dominate the highlight reel more than ever before, ground-game Gasol has become a poster boy for the analytics movement that has gained so much speed in recent years.
A player’s effect on his team is being valued over individual statistics more than ever before, even if said player doesn’t necessarily come with the sort of skill set typically associated with dominance. Enter Gasol, who ranked 23rd in the league in rebounding this season (7.8 per game), was 12th in blocks (1.74 per game).
The bottom line for many voters came down to this combination of circumstances: he was the anchor of a defense that was edged out by the Miami Heat as the most efficient in the league, and the Grizzlies gave up an additional 6.8 points per 100 possessions as compared to when he didn’t play. Not everyone is endorsing this new way of thinking, though.
The Heat’s LeBron James saw the media’s vote as a slight, saying “I don’t know if it’s one player in NBA history that’s guarded (point guards) through (centers).” The Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard, himself … [For more on Marc Gasol defends award with egalitarianism, click here.]