The NBA announced its All NBA Defense teams this afternoon. The most glaring snub in its selections is that Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler was not a First Team selection. That honor went to the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard, who played eight less games than did Chandler this year.
However, at least Chandler won a Second Team selection. Two other players, who were snubbed outright,have worse grievances: Josh Smith deserved a second-team spot over Kevin Garnett, and
The Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith deserved a second-team slot over Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett. Smith made an otherwise mediocre squad the #4 Seed in the East in no small part due to his defense. Smith was the league leader in Defensive Win shares, indicating that his tenacious defense has a material effect on his team's success. This is in no small part because Smith is one of those rare power forwards who stretches his defense to the wings to defend small forwards and to assist teammates on weak side defense. Garnett is not even in the top twenty in defensive win shares, and Smith also has superior rebounding and blocked shots statistics to Garnett in 2012
I'll put the New York Knicks' Iman Shumpert over the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant at the second team guard position. Shumpert is already one of the most tenacious defenders in the league. By the end of the year, the rookie was routinely assigned to defend the Knicks' best opposing player.
Finishing 12th in the league in steals, Shumpert harnessed several transition opportunities for the Knicks. Shumpert is also one of the most active defenders with his hands; if "altered shots" were a statistical category, Shumpert would be a league leader.
On the other hand, the Lakers struggled miserably at guarding the perimeter in 2012, as most recently evidenced by the throttling Westbrook laid out on them in the playoffs. Bryant's defensive rating is 10 points worse than Shumpert's (106 to 96), and the Lakers ranked 22nd out of 30 in the league opponents' field goals and 28th in the league in steals. Bryant shouldn't be awarded for these shortcomings in perimeter defense.
Howard, Bryant, and Garnett all received undeserved honors today. Each player is a future Hall of Famer, and yes, reputation goes a long way. But in the eye of these glaring statistical anomalies, it shouldn't have gone this far.