Doctor MJ wrote:Why stop there? Dude, I'm not "going" anywhere, I'm just analyzing a bizarre event in NBA history. If seeing that the '80s DPOYs was dominated by guards doesn't strike you as strange, you're not thinking hard enough.
Also, Bill Russell played more like Giannis than a Lopez Bro, and I'm not just talking about proficiency. I mean that he played "horizontal game" big man defense emphasizing court coverage rather than camping out by the hoop.
Yeah, I'm not actually suggesting Giannis didn't deserve DPOY. It's this idea that just because a player isn't a big or a full time rim protector he should effectively be excluded from DPOY discussion that I don't agree with.
RE your guys' conspiracy theory about voter bias toward small players during that period, let's take a closer look. Let's start by acknowledging that awards like DPOY and MVP have almost always been a "best player on the best team" discussion. Let's also try and put ourselves in their shoes and work with the info that they were working with at the time (e.g. best defensive teams were the ones that allowed the least points, pace be damned).
Calling someone wrong is not the same thing as saying they were part of a conspiracy, despite what the modern internet tends to believe.
Big men had dominated NBA defense since "big men" first came into existence, hence the goaltending rule.
People know from the '40s through the '70s that the best defenders in the world are big men.
Then when they made a DPOY award in the '80s they give the award to guards for the first few years.
And then after that they go back to giving all the big defensive love to big men.
It's not anything weird to ask: Why the aberration in the '80s? That's what everyone looking into NBA history should immediately ask the moment they look at the awards.
I like that you laid out things year by year, so I'll talk about those things, but I do think I should say this up front:
There is a truth that the early '80s wasn't dominated by serious defensive bigs the way the eras before and after were, and that makes the early DPOYs a big more defensible.
But by the time Eaton comes into his own in the mid-80s, that should have been the end of all that. Instead after they gave it to Eaton once, it was like they decided to give "lifetime achievement awards" to guys like Cooper. (I love me some Coop, but Eaton owned the latter half of the decade in terms of NBA defense.)
I'm un-spoilering your stuff on the first year of the DPOY and I'm going to speak to that year because I think laying that out makes plain the issues.
I'm not planning to take the time to analyze every year at this time in this thread.
VanWest82 wrote:82/83 - Moncrief
Top 5 defenses (PPG allowed): 1. Knicks, 2. Bullets, 3. Suns, 4. Bucks, 5. Hawks.
Top 5 Voting: 1. Moncrief, 2. Rollins, 3. (tie) Cheeks, Cooper, Bird, Jones.
When you go through Knicks, Bullets, and Suns rosters from that year it's hard to say any of them had obvious candidates. Maybe Bill Cartwright? Rick Mahorn? Was DJ or Nance the MVP of the 83 Suns D? Next up is Moncrief who was the heart and soul of the Bucks defense. Rollins definitely had a good claim as the anchor of the 5th stingiest Hawks defense. He led the league in blocks that year. He also only played 30 mpg. It was a really close vote. Who were the dominant big defenders that were left off? Eaton's Jazz were 5th from the bottom on points allowed. Bobby Jones's inclusion even though his stats didn't jump off the page would seem to indicate voters had a pretty good idea of who the good defenders were; Bird's inclusion perhaps less so.
Okay, so I'll say again that you do have something of a point relating to the early '80s being a weaker era for bigs.
Next I want to specifically note the PPG allowed thing. You're absolutely right that that's what people were looking at back then if they were looking at team defense at all, but when I talk about people back then not knowing what they were doing, that's the case in point, isn't it? No one competent today would use that stat.
The Nets were the actual best defense in the league by DRtg, and to my knowledge not only did no Net get any DPOY votes - not even from Nets media - they didn't even get anybody All-D.
I think it's worth noting that the really telling story of both this year and the previous was that with Buck Williams arrival on the Nets, they became an ultra-elite defensive team. And of course, Buck would later be on several All-D teams and be credited with turning the ultra-soft Blazers' defense around.
But back then, despite the fact the media was giving Buck MVP votes, nary a blip on the DPOY front. Why? Because they had no freaking idea what they were doing, but they lacked sufficient defensive data analysis ability to be competent by modern standards, and they were being heavily influenced by reputation.
Maybe Squid deserved the award more than Buck - not saying that's impossible at all - but I think it's basically a given that none of those voters understood that the Nets actually had the best defense in the league, and had they understood it, Buck probably gets DPOY votes to go along with the MVP votes.
Sometimes I'm overly harsh in my language about people from the past. I don't really think everybody back then was an idiot, but I'm just really sick of people talking like someone like me can't know better than people back then when everyone on these boards has lived through the data revolution and the paradigm shifts that have followed. I remember what it was like 15 years ago being shouted down when I (and others) pointed out the trends that now dominate the sport, and I just have a lot less patience for old school assumptions, and not just because "I was right", but because the paradigm shifts really should have occurred back in the '80s if these people actually understood how to analyze a field and identify how to optimize it.
I'm not saying that all you need to understand this stuff is data of course, tons of people in the stats space without any basketball common sense, but as someone with a leg in both worlds, it's pretty obvious what people were missing and so when they made choices (and votes) that scream "WTF", I'm not likely to assume that they knew something magical simply because they were getting paid to know things. I think it's important to try to understand where they were coming from, and sometimes you become aware of something important you as a person from the future couldn't see first hand, but there were very clear blindspots they had back then.
Here's what I'll also say about Jordan's defense:
Jordan won the DPOY after whining about not winning it the year before.
Cooper got the DPOY in no small part because Magic & company lobbied for him as he'd been a great man defender for years, and as Cooper's campaign built, Jordan was telling the press "Look at his stats, he's not doing that much", because unlike Jordan the gambler trying to get steals and blocks every chance, Cooper was actually trying to play man defense consistently well to allow Magic to go for the steals.
I think it quite likely that this essentially amounted to the next year being "MJ's turn" to win DPOY. The grand irony is that he was right that Cooper shouldn't have gotten the award, but if Cooper had been properly rated, then Jordan doesn't get a DPOY either.
Hey: With what's going on in the world, my fuse is shorter than it used to be, and it's leading my lose my cool and then go on self-imposed breaks from things (such as RealGM). Please try to keep it civil, and I'll be looking to do the same.