Chicago Bulls: Ronnie Brewer Snubbed in Defensive Player of the Year Voting

Brian ChappattaCorrespondent IIApril 18, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 25: O.J. Mayo #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies looses control of the ball under pressure from Ronnie Brewer #11 (L) and Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Grizzlies 99-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Surprise, surprise, Dwight Howard added a third Defensive Player of the Year award to his list of accomplishments. In all likelihood, that means voters once again looked past Superman in the MVP race, which is now seemingly Derrick Rose's for sure.

Taking a closer look at the DPOY voting, however, reveals that Luol Deng was the highest rated Chicago Bulls player at 10th, and the next highest was (surprisingly) Joakim Noah at 15th. Keith Bogans also did well for himself, earning a first place vote and No. 20 overall.

That's a nice recognition of the Bulls' top-ranked defense, but it doesn't compare to Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics finishing second and fifth, respectively.

But more importantly, voters failed to recognize the best defender on the Bulls this season: Ronnie Brewer.

Admittedly, much of my case stems from this article on, but it deserves another mention and another look after Chicago's poor defensive effort against Indiana in Game 1 of the playoffs. 

Brewer was injured in the Bulls' final game of the regular season, which probably caused Tom Thibodeau to cut back his minutes in Game 1. He played 16 minutes (less than Keith Bogans), which is six fewer than his regular season average.

If you clicked the link above, you will have seen that with most of the season done, Brewer led the NBA in team defensive efficiency with him on the floor, and also had the biggest difference in team defensive efficiency with him on the floor versus off the floor.

Simply put, the Bulls have the best defense in the league with Brewer on the floor, and also suffer the biggest setback on defense when Brewer is off the floor.

Granted, Brewer is not a starter and doesn't play as many minutes as a player like Howard, Garnett, Rondo or Deng. But the numbers don't lie, and why should he suffer for being on a deep and talented Bulls team?

The aforementioned article places Brewer on the All-Defensive first team, and ESPN's John Hollinger has said he'd make his second team. Yet, it seems not a single voter named Ronnie even the third-best defender in basketball. By comparison, Kenyon Martin and Gerald Wallace made the cut twice each.

As the playoffs proceed, Brewer is undoubtedly going to play a more prominent role in Thibodeau's plans. Rotations are typically trimmed for the postseason, but the Bulls are in a strange situation since their 11th-best player starts for them. 

Even if the Bulls continue to struggle on defense with the starters, I can't imagine a situation where Thibodeau will start Brewer. The Bulls rode a starting lineup with Bogans to 62 wins in the regular season, and changing it would only make the problems worse.

Still, it wouldn't surprise me to see Brewer inserted into the game earlier than usual in the playoffs, perhaps six to eight minutes into the first and third quarters. The Bulls need his defense, his rebounding and his ability to cut on the baseline.

Against the Miami Heat, which I imagine the Bulls will face if they make the Eastern Conference Finals, a lineup of Brewer and Deng could shut down Dwyane Wade and LeBron James as well as any duo could hope to. That's a series in which I could see Brewer possibly earning a start.

The NBA Playoffs are where stars are born, or so they say. As the Bulls make their way into May—and maybe June—Brewer should earn some more recognition around the league as one of the elite perimeter defenders in the game.