NBA PM: Why Didn’t Dwight Howard Win DPOY?
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard’s string of three-consecutive NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards ended on Wednesday as Tyson Chandler became the first Knicks player to ever garner the trophy.
Howard finished with 18 first-place votes and 186 overall points, trailing Chandler and Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka.
To many who have followed Howard’s tumultuous season, the vote wasn’t completely unexpected. Howard still had the right numbers, leading the league in rebounds (14.5 per game) defensive rebounds (10.8 per game) and finishing third in blocked shots (2.15 per game); but he didn’t receive the same positive press as he once did, and that tends to affect the 121 voting sportswriters and broadcasters.
Unlike past seasons, when Howard was seen as an affable giant, his year began with rumors of trade demands and things only got worse from there. Ultimately, Howard decided to opt in to the final year of his contract back at the trade deadline, but the bad press didn’t stop. Coach Stan Van Gundy publically accused Howard of attempting to get him fired.
Following Howard’s back injury, which ultimately ended his season prematurely, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith went on Sportscenter to say that sources have told him that Howard will once again ask for a trade following the season. (ESPN took down the link, but I previously transcribed the quote here)
But bad press aside; Howard really did not deserve the award this season.
Yes, he had better individual numbers than Chandler and he didn’t have the benefit of another interior defensive presence to play with such as Ibaka’s teammate Kendrick Perkins. But Orlando’s overall defense slipped significantly this year, and since he’s the undeniable leader of that team—particularly at the defensive end—there’s no way he deserved a fourth-consecutive DPOY trophy.
The Magic ranked in the top three in defensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) in each of the last three years and Howard punctuated each of those seasons with a DPOY selection. But this year Orlando fell into a tie for 13th place in defensive efficiency.
Orlando also went from allowing opponents to make 43.6% of their field goal attempts to allowing a 44.9% success rate this year, which tied the team for 14th in the league.
It’s not that Howard’s production fell off a cliff; it’s just that the Magic weren’t nearly as effective on defense as they had been over the past few seasons. And no, that’s not entirely his fault. The other Magic players have to take some pride in their defense as well.
But there’s no way that the voters could have given Howard his fourth DPOY award in good conscience knowing that Orlando’s defense had gone from premiere to pedestrian.
Look who’s suddenly very popular
It’s the NBA Playoffs, the time of year when we celebrate the best aspects of the best league in the world.
On any given night you can turn on your television and expect to see Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Kevin Durant do something unbelievable—something you’re sure to discuss with friends and relatives until the next night’s games are underway.
Naturally, it’s a big time for NBAStore.com, the merchandizing wing the league’s website. But the Lakers, Celtics and Heat aren’t teams that are bringing in the bucks this week. As a matter of fact, the Brooklyn Nets—a team that doesn’t yet have a jersey—that’s the top seller on the site.
According to an official release, Monday’s brand identity launch—the event in which the team released the Jay-Z designed logos and black-and-white color scheme—sparked so much interest in team apparel, that the Nets lead all teams in sales at both NBAStore.com and the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue.
Brooklynnets.com has done more than double the amount of sales it did under it’s previous name—NJNets.com—in the 2010-2011 season; and Modell’s Sporting Goods sold more team merchandise in the first day of the launch than all of last year.
April 30th was actually the second-largest web traffic day for NBAStore.com since Dec. 25th (the start of the season) and the Nets represented 27 percent of all sales for the league store and website combined that day.
“The interest in our brand identity launch has dramatically exceeded our expectations,” said Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark in the release. “JAY Z’s logos and color scheme combined with our Brooklyn identity are proving to be a powerful draw for fans. It’s been 55 years since Brooklyn has had major professional sports and it’s clear the borough is excited for its new home team. As our merchandise and ticket sales are flourishing, we have also seen a huge spike in our digital fan engagement, with Brooklyn Nets trending nationally on Twitter on Monday. We are proud to say, ‘Hello Brooklyn’.”
Nets not signing Andrei Kirilenko
Ever since Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets there has been speculation that Russia’s greatest player, former Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, would sign with the team. Ultimately, Kirilenko went back to play in Russia this year for CSKA Moscow (a team that Prokhorov has finically supported), but that hasn’t stopped the incessant rumor mill from spinning.
Former HOOPSWORLD writer Wendell Maxey tweeted that he “spoke to two contacts in Russia close to Andrei Kirilenko,” adding that an “AK to Brooklyn nets deal” is in place.
While that may very well end up happening, one league source told HOOPSWORLD that there is absolutely no truth to the rumor.
However, general manager Billy King will be traveling to Europe in the near future (the Nets have the rights to Fenerbahçe Ulker’s Bojan Bogdanovic) so there could wind up being some traction when that trip actually takes place.
In the meantime, King will be working toward securing Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams for next season as both players can opt out of their contracts.
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