The NBA announced the members of its 2013 All-Defensive First and Second teams today, and Bucks center Larry Sanders was not present on either squad. Perimeter stopper Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies led the field with 53 voting points including 25 of a possible 29 first-place votes (coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players). LeBron James also received 25 first-place votes and had 52 points overall. Sanders tied Denver's Andre Iguodala with 16 points to lead the "honorable mentions". He received 4 first-place votes.
Of course, there were some puzzling results to the voting. Sanders' 16 total points were actually more than Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol's 12 points, but Gasol received one more first-place vote than Sanders to earn a spot on the 2nd team. Or, as Steve Perrin suggests over at Clips Nation, the NBA monkeyed with the results--declaring Sanders to be a forward rather than a center--to ensure the DPOY wasn't left off the 2nd team entirely. This is the second consecutive year in which the DPOY was not voted to the 1st All-Defensive Team (keep in mind that DPOY is voted on by the media)--it happened to Tyson Chandler in 2012.
Sanders once again found himself narrowly outside the frame of recognition, having placed 7th in Defensive Player of the Year voting this season. And once again, there was a dubious selection pushing him down the ranks. While the coaches thankfully acknowledged the drop-off in Kobe Bryant's defensive contributions (he received 6 points and 1 first-place vote), Serge Ibaka continues to earn high praise thanks to his excellent shot-blocking numbers, despite mounting evidence to suggests he is, at best, a marginally effective defender. The following numbers are hardly conclusive evidence as to any sort of ranking, but they do make one think:
Team DRtg improvement when each guy was on floor in '12-13: Chandler: -0.2, Ibaka: 0.5, Noah: 5.1, Sanders: 5.9, Gasol: 6.9— Dan Sinclair (@dan_sinclair) May 13, 2013
As before, all we can do is remain confident in our knowledge that Larry Sanders is awesome and that his defensive impact remains widely unappreciated. That the jump took place just this season likely hurt him a bit (I imagine Sanders will get a lot of praise next season even if his impact happens to lessen), and there are still elements of his game to improve, even on defense. The general public might be a bit behind reality in terms of recognizing Sanders' value, but he's put himself on a trajectory that should earn him plenty of recognition in the coming years. Hopefully the Bucks as a whole soon follow suit.