When the Washington Wizards barely were mentioned in the Defensive Player of the Year voting, we could write it off by saying that writers didn't appreciate the Wizards' work this season. After all, how many of the voters knew that the Wizards had the league's fifth-best defensive efficiency this season? The coaches that study teams every day would surely be more understanding when they voted on the All-Defense teams.
Well, the All-Defense voting is now out ... and there are no Wizards on it.
That's right. The fifth-best defensive team in the NBA didn't even get one vote for either of the two all-defense teams. Players like Kobe Bryant (as usual), Russell Westbrook, Mike James (?), Tony Parker, Metta World Peace, Kevin Durant and David West got votes. Chris Paul got on the first team.
More to the point: here are the combined point totals for the teams in the top 10 in defense this year:
- Indiana: 36
- Memphis: 84
- San Antonio: 24
- Oklahoma City: 66
- Washington: 0
- Chicago: 33
- Boston: 25
- LA Clippers: 38
- Miami: 56
- Atlanta: 0
Atlanta and Washington were completely shut out despite having top-10 defenses. The Hawks getting zero while being 10th in defense is somewhat understandable. The Wizards getting zero while being fifth, though? Where's that coming from?
There are two possible explanations for this:
1. Coaches don't know what they're talking about. Well, they do, but many of them are either unemployed or in the middle of the playoffs. While they break down opponents on film extensively, accurately voting for all-defense is likely way down their list of priorities. Still, they are coaches that are more immersed in the game than anyone.
2. Randy Wittman (and Don Newman) deserves a lot of credit. These two men built a defense that lacked defenders with elite reputations and turned it into a top-five unit. If the players aren't going to get credit for that, doesn't that ostensibly mean the other coaches are crediting the coaching staff for the Wizards' turnaround?
I think it's best for us to think of explanation No. 2 when responding to this snub, even if Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor and Nene merited some consideration. Wittman certainly has his faults as a coach, but the team's tremendous defensive performance is very much on him.