Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 at 10:40 am  |  15 responses

Erik Spoelstra Wants LeBron James to Win Defensive Player of the Year

It was a goal for LeBron James last season, and when he fell short, the NBA’s MVP was not happy. Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is already campaigning for his superstar to win the DPOY award before this season even begins. Per NBA.com: “That’s what makes the prospect of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra‘s Media Day challenge to James one of the most intriguing sidelights of this upcoming season. ‘This year, it would be great to see him be acknowledged for the defensive work that he does,’ Spoelstra said, planting the seed while at the same time saying that’s exactly what he wasn’t trying to do. ‘There’s no one else in the league that can do what he does. He’s been banging on that door, getting close. I don’t want it to be a campaign. It has to be earned. But he has that type of potential to be Defensive Player of the Year.’ Not since Michael Jordan has the best player in the league been this proficient on both ends of the floor. And Jordan, you could argue, played both sides as well as anyone who has ever laced up a pair of sneakers in a game in the NBA or anywhere else. James has the potential to do the same and has shown flashes of it throughout his career, particularly in the past three seasons.”

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  • Enigmatic

    I mean, I’ve seen him effectively guard everyone from Derrick Rose to Dwight Howard. It’s really hard for a non-center to win the award though, for whatever reason. Think it’s only been done three times since ’93. Well, two times if you count KG as a center.

  • shockexchange

    This is silly. The Kang can only do what’s in his control – study the “LeBron Rules”, lead the Heat to the chip or lock down every play Spoelstra puts in front of him. However, The Kang can’t make people vote for him.

    Secondly, The Kang is the best player in the L. The judges won’t give him both the MVP and DPOY. They want to give other people a chance.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Couldn’t have said it any better.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk


    that’s the entire list of non centers to win the award in league history

  • pposse

    Lebron will get the award if he earns it. guys like Noah, Howard, Gasol, Tony Allen, Hibbert, are way more important defensively to their team than Lebron is and fill that role better than lebron.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    see the thing is….that’s just false. the value to the defense argument only really works for Noah/Howard/Gasol.. and even at that, it’s a hard argument to make outside of Howard. LeBron guards 5 positions, literally 5 positions, and he’s done so over the course of a single game.
    you take LeBron off of Miami, and their defense would lose by far it’s best defender. Not so with Chicago, as Gibson is an elite defensive player, so is Jimmy Butler, & Luol Deng. — Memphis obviously has Gasol/Allen, and then they have Mike Conley/Tayshun Prince, or Indiana, Hibbert has George and Hill. The “value” argument is really in LeBron’s favor.

  • LakeShow

    Why would he deserve it over Iggy, Paul George, Tony Allen, Howard, Gasol, and Hibbert, and possibly KG(depending on his health)?

    He wouldn’t and doesn’t. Unless he’s taken his defensive game to the next level.

    He can guard 5 positions, sure. But he doesn;t guard any one of them better than the best defender at that position.

    He’s the most versatile, but not in the top 5 best defenders.

  • LakeShow

    I can’t believe Pippen never won that award…. WTH….. It hurts for me to think about it…

  • pposse

    Lebron can guard 5 positions, but i dont even think the position he guards the best is better than how Noah, Howard, Gasol can guard the C position. Miami has some great defensive players as well, Chris Bosh is not a slouch (only sometimes) and Wade is def an above average defender. You couple that in with their pg tandem and now Greg Oden the argument can be made that Miami has the most versatile defense in the league and not due in large part to just Lebron but the teams depth in talent.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    James defended 833 individual defensive sets and was shot on 688 times (via Synergy). He held his opponents to just 37.6 percent shooting. Gasol, by comparison, defended 633 individual possessions, was shot on 510 times and held his opponents to 38.2 percent shooting.
    James did that guarding a multitude of positions. Gasol, maybe 2.
    Miami’s defense with LeBron in the lineup was top 5 …. without LeBron, they were bottom half of the league.
    i could keep going.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    well there never was a season where he was the overwhelmingly best defender. Unfortunately for him he played in the same era as Hakeem/Dikembe/Payton and played next to Jordan. Never really had a chance to stand out as the leagues best all around defender

  • LakeShow

    All correct, but he was the L’s most versatile and one of the top 3 toughest defenders. Sad he wasn’t able to achieve at least one.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    will you go back to your opinion of LeBron as a defender and just holler at me….let me know how this is different?

  • pposse

    i see that stat and see that Lebron was tested 178 more times in the season than Marc Gasol was. Does that mean Marc Gasol absolutely shuts down the players he guards? Kind of like the way Asomugha in the nfl wouldn’t even get qb’s to throw his direction back when he was on the raiders..

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    nah, LeBron played 100 more minutes and guarded multiple positions, most of the time an opposing teams best player. Gasol was just guarding Centers, and the occasional power forward, not as many teams rely on post players as perimeter guys.