Andrew Bogut is a better defender than Derrick Rose, despite what NBA coaches say

Andrew Bogut is not among the top 10 defenders in the NBA.

Broadly speaking, that’s what being left off the NBA’s two All-Defense teams means.  On a smaller scale, it means coaches don’t view him as one of the top two defensive centers in the NBA, as only one center is chosen for each team.  Dwight Howard has the first team spot on lock for as long as he wants it, so really, Bogut was in a race for second.  The coaches went with Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler for the second team slot though.

With only two center spots available, earning an All-Defense spot at center is a tough task.  So while it’s disappointing the anchor for the fourth best defensive team in the NBA didn’t make the cut, it’s understandable.  Bogut’s total votes?  That’s where it seems reality has abandoned the coaches.

Andrew Bogut, league leading shot-blocker who just one year ago was beginning to garner some recognition as one of the league’s finest centers, received just one second team vote.  That’s it.  Seven players that could be classified as centers received more votes than Bogut: Howard (56), Chander (17), Joakim Noah (15), Tim Duncan (11), Chuck Hayes (10), Al Horford (7) and Kendrick Perkins (3).

In addition, Derrick Rose, universally regarded as a weak, but improved, defender this season, received 14 votes.

This seems to illustrate a few things:

1. Team Improvement = Big Deal

Dallas had the league’s 12 ranked defense last season.  This season, they improved to 8 and Chandler received the majority of the credit.  He’s successfully harnessed his exceptional athletic skills to become a top notch rotator and weak side shot-blocker.  Dallas is playing deeper into the playoffs than they have since their NBA Finals run in 2006 and it’s largely due to their defensive improvements behind Chandler.  It’s an easy way to quantify the importance of one player on the side of the ball that’s much more difficult to quantify.

At the same time, the Bulls improvement under Coach Tom Thibodeau from 11 to 1 in defensive rating boded well for Rose and Noah.

2. Team Success = Big Deal

Notice anything those names in front of Bogut have in common?  With the exception of Hayes, everyone’s favorite undersized, battler center, each of those players plays for a playoff team.  An individual NBA award where team success heavily influences the voting?  I’m shocked.  That’s virtually always the case though.

Despite the fact that All-Defensive voting should merely be measuring the best defenders, Bogut was punished for playing on the worst offensive team in the NBA.  Milwaukee’s win total dropped by 11 because it had no idea how to put the ball through the hoop on a regular basis.  The buzz was gone and the spotlight faded.  So suddenly, Bogut went from the second best center in the league to an afterthought as a defender despite leading the league in blocked shots.  And Derrick Rose goes from laughable sieve of a defender to leading vote getter amongst those who failed to make either team.

Simply put, this is all a little silly.  Arguing and hand-wringing over these awards and teams is about as beneficial as yelling from the crowd for a timeout.

Perhaps voting should be split amongst guards and forward/centers as to not slight the various capable defenders amongst bigs in the NBA, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever see the system change.  Whatever the case, a system in which coaches end up illustrating that Derrick Rose is a better defender than Andrew Bogut is goofy.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com.  Follow him on Twitter then become a fan on Facebook (on the right).

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5 Comments

  1. Although I looked at the all defense list I was not surprised to see Boguts’ absense. When was the last time the blocks leader didn’t make the all defense team? My hunch is that it has been a while.

    Bucks won’t be winning an NBA popularity contest anytime soon. Hopefully Bogut will use it as motivation to dominate next season.

  2. In the 2009-2010 season, ESPN couldn’t get enough of showing the BPG leader while Dwight Howard was on top, this year they didn’t report it once. Its really a matter of the fans in my mind, big market fans, Bulls fans especially, get emotional and call everyone “haters” if their players don’t get top recognition even if someone else in the league is more deserving.

    Look at the whole Cam Newton situation, with all the hype he got the Panthers not picking him first and him living up to it would be a bigger mistake than drafting him and him turning in a Jamarcus from a PR standpoint.

    Whoever gets the most hype pretty much wins and the demographic for hyping small market players is pretty low so ESPN dumbs it down for the people who only start watching when their teams are winning…. like Bulls fans.

  3. @DukeH
    Wow! My words exactly. I have really started to wonder how much impact the media (namely ESPN) has on decisions. You look at drafts like the NFL and how much reputation is taken into account for all-pro teams. And on your Bulls fans comments, I agree completely. They seemed so defensive when explaining why Rose should be MVP in the last few months. I always had the feeling of, “I agree Rose should be the MVP, now get off my case.” I can justify Bogut’s snub, but 1 vote blows my mind. Are these coaches paying attention to the game?

  4. Jeremy Schmidt

    @Andrew
    I think we saw so much defensiveness regarding Rose’s MVP candidacy because advanced stats did not indicate that he was the best player this season. Then it became the back and forth about what our eyes tell us and what numbers tell us and that always causes quite a stir.

    Whether or not anyone wants my take on ESPN I’m not sure, obviously there’s a chance I’m biased here, but I think they simply follow bigger stories because they are serving to a large audience. There’s a reason the Heat Index exists, and it’s simply because a TON of people want to talk about and read about the Heat, whether they love them or hate them.

    Milwaukee lacks stars and this season lacked success, therefore, they got little attention, because no one wanted to talk about them. That’s just the nature of the game.