Shawn Marion placed well below Tyson Chandler in the NBA's 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award announced today. Marion ending up a measly eighth with 17 votes. It was actually fairly far behind a lot of players, including OKC's Serge Ibaka.
Now, first off, Marion being recognized on the poll is progress. Last year, Marion didn't even register a single vote, as Tyson Chandler grabbed all the Maverick praise (not that the praise for Chandler wasn't deserved).
Chandler was recognized this year because he revamped another normally weak defense in New York, taking the Knicks all the way to the fifth most efficient defense in the NBA. That, combined with the brilliant pick and roll hedges, the expert rotations and stern post defense, grabs Chandler a much-deserved award.
But if Chandler was recognized for changing New York's defensive identity, doesn't Marion deserve credit for helping keep Dallas a top-eight defense despite the losses of Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson? Especially for what Marion has done this season:
He's guarded four positons and all of them well. He's checked Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant while also having to be the Mavericks best rebounder on top of that. (Not at the same time, that'd be silly.)
He's kept Durant to a sub-40 percent shooting percentage in two games in the playoffs so far. Marion works about as hard as any other Maverick defender and his ability to defend multiple positions allows the Mavs to mask the defensive shortcomings to Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter. The man has done some work.
It shows. When Marion heads to the bench, the Dallas defense gets significantly gets worse. According to basketballvalue.com, the Dallas defense is nine points worse when Marion isn't on the court. When second-place DPOY finisher Serge Ibaka heads to the bench? OKC isn't even a point worse defensively, because the team replaces Ibaka with a more sound and overall better defender in Nick Collison. Ibaka has grown leaps and bounds on the defensive end, but blocking shots doesn't equal the better defender.
So yes, congrats to Shawn Marion for his eigth place finish and getting recognized on the DPOY ballot.
Too bad it should have been more.