Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 4/25/13
Dwight Howard had an off year in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was not the same dominant force that we saw during his eight seasons with the Orlando Magic. In particular, Howard was not given as much recognition for his defensive play. Howard battled injuries all season long and did not establish himself as a dominant post presence until late in the season. After having won the Defensive Player of the Year for three straight seasons from 2009-2011, Howard finished 14th in the voting this year. He thought that was comical. “It’s just funny,” he said Wednesday, via Mark Medina of Inside the Lakers. “That’s okay. We got next year and I got a long time. This year’s funny.” Marc Gasol won the award, as he is widely considered to be the anchor of a Memphis Grizzlies defense that finished first in the NBA with only 89.26 points allowed per game. In his defense (no pun intended), Howard finished the year first in the NBA in rebounds with 12.4 per game and third in blocked shots with 2.45 per game. That being said, it was hardly his best year and the Lakers’ team defense left a lot to be desired. Howard may be surprised he finished outside the top 10, but he doesn’t think he should have won the award. That doesn’t mean he thinks it went to the right guy, either. “Serge Ibaka with all the stuff he did this year, he should’ve been the guy to win it this year and last year,” Howard said. “With the stuff he’s done on the defensive end. I thought he was the clear cut winner. But people saw it otherwise. He led the league in blocks. That’s what defense is all about. He led the team and was number one in blocks this year. You can’t play defense without having any shot blockers. He was the No. 1 shot blocker the last two years. That’s great defense right there.” That may be true, but as Pro Basketball Talk pointed out Howard did not lead the league in blocks the last time he took home the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2011. Ibaka led the league in total blocks that season as well, so I guess Howard stole one from him just like Gasol did this year. If all goes to plan, Dwight will have a chance to improve upon his ranking of 14th next year in LA.
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