In the past twenty years the NBA Defensive Player of the Year has been about the most predictable award given out in the NBA. During that time span there has been eighteen interior players selected to two perimeter players being selected for the award. Gary Payton won the award in 1995-1996 and Ron Artest won the award in the 2003-2004 season. It is a shame to see how one-sided an award category can be. In that twenty year time frame lock down defenders such as Bruce Bowen, Shane Battier, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, and Jason Kidd never really had a legitimate shot at winning the award. Michael Jordan did win the award in 1988, but I think that it’s asinine that the discrepancy in numbers is so wide of a margin.
In today’s version of the NBA everyone wants to score, and be the guy. Tony Allen is one of few players that pride themselves on defense and being a glue guy. Allen brought his championship pedigree from the Boston Celtics, and changed the culture in Memphis. Prior to Allen’s arrival the Grizzlies never had a true identity on the court. Now that Allen is the catalyst of the defense the Grizzlies are known for their grit and grind style of basketball.
I feel that Tony Allen should win the Defensive Player of Year this season for many reasons. This is a team who lost Rudy Gay, and many people thought they were dead meat. The Grizzlies improved on defense even more with the acquisition of TayShaun Prince teaming up with Tony Allen to guard the perimeter. Since it is a perimeter driven league you have to have players that are equipped to handle the duties of guarding players such as Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James. Not saying that Allen holds those players to below average numbers, but if you had to choose a player to make a stop on a last second play the only two people that come to mind is LeBron James and Tony Allen. Many people may not keep up with Allen, because he is in a small market. He rarely makes any highlights that will get him on SportsCenter, but there is a reason why the Grizzlies have suddenly start making the playoffs, and being a Contender in the West. There is no secret that Allen is the glue that holds them together.
Does Tony Allen lead the NBA in steals, blocks, or any defensive category? The answer is no, but his impact on the defensive end has made the Grizzlies a serious threat in the Western Conference. People get caught up in numbers, highlight blocks and steals, but when looking that the effect on the game that should really tell the story. The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA if not the best, and that is a testament to Allen’s ability to defend multiple positions on the perimeter. If this was football Allen would be the Darrelle Revis of the Memphis Grizzlies. The numbers will never be flashy, but when you sit and watch the game you witness the impact of the defensive abilities on the court.
I just hope that NBA executives and voters pay attention to who should deserve the award this season. It seems like voters go with the popular choice since defense is an afterthought. Allen may not be the popular choice, but I believe he is the best choice. Change is good, and I hope that they realize that perimeter players deserve just as much respect as the bigs receive.