Grizzlies center Marc Gasol will be named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year later this week, according to the multiple sources with knowledge of the voting.
Don’t expect to find too many arguments about this award. Not only did the Grizzlies finish second in defensive efficiency, according to 82games they were 6.5 points per possession better on that end when Marc-y Marc was on the court. Which is to say, the Grizzlies were great defensively but even better when the Big Burrito was watching the rim. That’s good stuff, even if his traditional defensive stats — your blocks, steals and defensive rebounds — don’t blow you away because other Grizzers are making those plays.
Cases could be made, I guess, for Joakim Noah, Roy Hibbert or Tim Duncan, all of who would be fine choices for this award if they played more minutes. But as it stands, Gasol played 370 more minutes than Noah (the closest of the previous three in terms of playing time) and 718 more than Duncan (the furthest). Considering Marc plays a little bit more than 35 minutes a game, that’s like getting an extra 10-20 games of A+ defense from your center. Between that and the cool guy factor that Gasol is enjoying thanks to the tireless work of Zach Lowe, it’s a pretty easy choice.
But it’s a free internet, so please disagree in the comments if you want to. Just remember that if you do, Marc Gasol is going to give you a giant sweaty hug to win you back. Consider for a second if that’s worth it to say how great Andre Iguodala has been this season.