For a team that is one win away from upsetting the number one seed in the Eastern Conference in the 2012 NBA playoffs, our 76ers have flown very far under the radar for the bulk of the season. Aside from a hot start and a stint at the top of ESPN’s power rankings, which had some people buzzing about the budding team, conversation about the Sixers on a national scale has been stifled to say the least.
The lack of national attention surrounding the squad isn’t completely surprising as the team’s current lineup, void of any superstars, lacks the sexy story lines found with star-studded teams such as Miami, Dallas or Los Angeles. The Sixers as a team however seem to be fine without having the spotlight shining squarely on the Wells Fargo Center, and as we all know, Philadelphia loves the underdog approach.
The lack of overall attention paid to the team throughout the year is one thing, but the lack of respect paid to Andre Iguodala in this year’s Defensive Player of the Year voting is almost tragic.
Did you know that Iguodala finished seventh in the DPOY voting? Dre placed behind an aged Kevin Garnett and Tony Allen — a one-dimensional player defensively. That’s absolutely ridiculous, as a strong case could be made for Iguodala to win the award.
Dre has served as the defensive anchor for a top three defense, while not having the benefit of a premier post player (read: shot blocker) behind him. Iguodala has the ability to defend multiple positions, and is arguably the most versatile defensive player in the League behind LeBron James, who finished above Iguodala on the list. Dre’s ability to defend virtually anyone on the perimeter makes him invaluable to the Sixers on the defensive side of the ball. Andre held opposing small forwards to a PER of 8.7, slightly above half of the League average, while often switching to guard an opponents’ best player at another position. Although not quite as effective in those other spots, Iguodala would routinely switch onto opponent’s points, shooting guards, and even power forwards at times, meaning that he can virtually cover all four positions; an extremely rare feat in today’s athletically superior Association.
Not only didn’t Andre have the benefit of a menacing big looming behind him he was also flanked by one mediocre defender along side of him in the starting lineup in Jodie Meeks, often leaving him alone to pick up the slack or forcing him to cover for Jodie’s mistakes.
Tyson Chandler altered the entire landscape of the Knicks previously offensive-minded approach to the game, allowing them to compete amongst the East’s elite, and is definitely deserving of the hardware, as everyone on the list is worthy of the recognition. Unfortunately the overall lack of attention the Sixers received this season may have hurt Andre in this regard, because based on his defensive ability and overall import to his team on that end of the ball he could have easily been this year’s DPOY. While any recognition is nice, the League’s most talented perimeter defender sitting at seventh on the list isn’t just an oversight, it’s a crime.
Dre’s defensive assets deserve more respect.