NBA: 7 Contenders for Defensive Player of the Year Not Named Dwight Howard
The phrase "Defense Wins Championships" runs true for every and any sport across the globe.
For the past three years, the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard has been the face of defense in the NBA, three-peating as winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award. But aren't you tired of seeing the same person win the same award every year?
Here's a few other players who could sneak up on Superman and challenge him for his dearly beloved title.
Tony Allen (SG/Memphis Grizzlies)
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The last time a guard won the Defensive Player of the Year award was over 15 years ago when "The Glove," Gary Payton, reigned supreme on the the court. Before then, Michael Jordan (eight years earlier) grabbed the award, and Alvin Robertson snagged it two years prior.
Milwaukee's Sidney Moncrief repeated winning the award in its first two years of existence, but the emergence of extremely athletic, defensive centers has made it very difficult for a guard to contend, let alone win.
It would take A LOT of hard work, but Tony Allen could be the one to break the dry spell of guards in the running for the defensive accolade. A very athletic, defense-first shooting guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, Allen is a nightmare for slashers and shooters, combining his swift feet with his quick hands and incredible awareness.
He's recognized around the league for his sticky defense, but Allen will have to bring his steals per game average way above 1.8 if he wants to be in the running next season.
DeAndre Jordan (C/Restricted Free Agent: Los Angeles Clippers)
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With trade rumors surrounding Chris Kaman, DeAndre Jordan is set to become the Los Angeles Clippers' starting center come the 2011-2012 season (whenever that may be).
Jordan averaged 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in only 26 minutes per game. It will be scary to see what his numbers will be like when he gets full starter's minutes.
Could he be the next Dwight Howard? Absolutely not, but he sure can get close.
Gerald Wallace (SF/Portland Trail Blazers)
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A prominent defender since he first stepped foot into the league, Gerald Wallace is an official shut-down small forward.
Trying to take him off the dribble is like trying to penetrate the New York Jets defense—nearly impossible. "Crash" Wallace is an extremely physical player who combines his more than solid athleticism with great speed and anticipation.
Wallace averaged two steals and 0.7 blocks (a number that is normally higher) after being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. When he plays a full season in Rip City, his numbers will be worthy enough to be tossed around in Defensive Player of the Year conversations.
JaVale McGee (C/Washington Wizards)
JaVale McGee is a scary paint protector. He's seven feet tall and has an incredible vertical leap.
Though McGee only played 27 minutes per game last season, he still somehow managed to get 2.4 blocks per game—second most in the NBA, only behind Andrew Bogut. If McGee gets the solid starter's minutes he deserves, he can bump that blocks per game average up to three and be the young player to seriously challenge Dwight Howard for the DPOY award.
Josh Smith (SF-PF/Atlanta Hawks)
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A combo forward, Josh Smith guards all positions on the floor very well. He's got great length and speed, which helps him keep up with smaller guards. But he's also strong and very athletic, which helps him guard big men.
Either way, J-Smoove does it all on the defensive end. Blocks, steals—you name it, he's getting it done. Smith averaged 1.6 blocks per game last season (tied for a career low) and 1.3 steals per game (lowest average in five years) as well.
There's been a lot of trade speculation surrounding the high-flying forward, but no matter where he ends up, Smith will bring his athleticism and intense defense.
Tyson Chandler (C/Unrestricted Free Agent)
Dallas' Tyson Chandler was third in the Defensive Player of the Year ballots last season—behind only Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard.
Chandler only averaged 1.1 blocks in 28 minutes per game last season, but he's a supreme presence in the paint and a guru at shot-changing. His 7'1", 235-pound frame clogs the middle, where he blocks or alters any shots going up at the basket.
If the Mavericks choose to re-sign him, which would be the smart move, Chandler would most likely get more minutes, resulting in higher averages and possibly more votes.
Greg Oden (C/Portland Trail Blazers)
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Greg Oden, when healthy, is a supreme defensive presence in the NBA. He's been injury-plagued—to say the least—but Oden's proven that when he's available to patrol the inside, he's one of the best.
Oden's only played a total of 82 games in his four seasons in the NBA, but his numbers stand out if you take a look at them. In the season prior to his microfracture left knee surgery in mid-November, Oden averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
What stands out more is that he only played 24 minutes per game! Now, it was mainly because he was always in foul trouble, but imagine what Oden's numbers would be like if he played 35 minutes.
As I like to say, "a healthy Greg Oden means a healthy defense," and if he returns back to 100 percent when the regular season rolls around, Dwight Howard will have to watch his back when ballots come in.