There are a number of big men making waves this season, but Los Angeles Clippers centre DeAndre Jordan has shown a few extra reasons why he should scoop the Defensive Player of the Year award.
The competition for the award is tighter than ever.
The basketball rhythm and pace has changed over the course of the past few years, and those players – the big men – tasked to dominate the game under the basket are no longer the dominant force in the modern NBA.
Remember those days in mid-late 1990s early 2000s in which the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson, just to mention a few, were the dominant scorers in the league?
Those days are gone as the game has become guard-orientated.
As Golden State Warriors first-year coach Steve Kerr puts it: “The league is going small and everybody’s shooting 30 threes a night.”
Now, if we take a closer look at the top-10 leading scorers this season, only three real big men appear in the chart.
New Orleans Pelicans 6-foot-10 power forward Anthony Davis, who averages 24.5 points per game, comes fourth. Sacramento Kings 6’11” centre DeMarcus Cousins ranks sixth with 23.4 points, while Portland Trail Blazers 6’11” power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is seventh with 23.2 points per contest.
This does not mean they are no longer influential.
It is just a fact that guards like league-leading scorer Russell Westbrook have taken over.
However, when it comes to measuring the defensive impact made by these big men, they’re undisputed.
And, this is the part where Jordan excels.
He only scores 11 points per game, but leads the league with 14.5 rebounds per game, while he’s sitting fourth in the league in blocks with two swats per game. You win games with the ball and he’s getting his hands on it often.
“What he is doing defensively, if he was doing that offensively he would be a good candidate for the MVP,” said Clippers Coach Doc Rivers.
Before the Clippers face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday morning, live on Supersport, Jordan played 304 consecutive games, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
For some in the league Jordan is an “iron man”.
The last time he missed a game was on the 23 March, 2011, when he had been hospitalised the previous week because of a mild case of pneumonia. That’s almost exactly four years ago.
“He’s been doing this for two years now,” Rivers said. “If we had a cabinet, he’d be the ‘Minister of Defence.’ That’s what he does for us. He’s our minister, and he preaches it, too.”
However, other big men such as Chicago Bulls Spaniard Pau Gasol, Davis, Cousins and Aldridge should not be ruled out for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
While Gasol is averaging 18.2 points and a career-high 12.1 rebounds per game, Davis who was part of the MVP conversation before suffering a shoulder injury that forced him out of the All-Star Game, tops the league with 2.8 blocks per game.
Cousins and Aldridge average 12.5 and 10.5 rebounds, respectively.
Chicago Bulls centre Joakim Noah was named last season’s Defensive Player of the Year. A new name looks likely to be etched onto the award this season.