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NBA Awards: 2015 Defensive Player of The Year

By Lee Golden
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Apr 8, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is defended by Houston Rockets small forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the second half at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 110-98. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to Trey Oursler who provides input on some possible Rocket roster consideration who should receive serious consideration for the award:

Unlike the Rookie of the Year discussion, the Houston Rockets had more than a few solid options for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

With constant injuries towards the end of the season, many players were forced to step up and fulfill roles they aren’t use to on the defensive end. Patrick Beverley was once again one of the best defensive point guards in the game prior to his injury; however Jason Terry and Nick Johnson have been able to pick up some of the slack on the hardest position to guard in the West.

Donatas Motiejunas was forced to guard the biggest player on opposing teams for a stretch of the season when Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones were battling injuries and he deserves as much credit for keeping the Rockets defense in check as anyone. Others such as Corey Brewer and yes, even James Harden have come through with solid defensive seasons that have helped the Rockets win the Southwest Division, but Trevor Ariza was the difference maker for the Clutch City defense in 2015.

Trevor Ariza won’t get the national recognition due to a strong team defense, but I’m sure Coach McHale and the Rockets would prefer the 2-seed over a DPOY Award for a single player. Ariza was T-37th overall in defensive rebounds per game at 4.7, tied with Harden and 2 others, while he was T-7th with Monta Ellis at 1.85 steals per game. TeamRankings.com says that Ariza’s steal/foul ratio is at .817, good enough for 7th in the league.

Ariza’s DRPM (Defensive Real Plus-Minus) which measures his amount of on-court impact per 1000 defensive possessions was high enough for 10th on the list of small forwards. He is the only player the Rockets are comfortable with guarding practically any position on the floor, he has guarded point guards on through power forwards this season and hasn’t disappointed.

Apr 1, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) steals the ball from Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson (34) in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 115 to 111. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Ariza will be depended on in these playoffs, in which a first-round match-up against the guy he replaced is in order. Chandler Parsons vs Trevor Ariza could be a battle for the ages, but advancing to the second round is all the Rockets should be concerned with.

Jan 5, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) moves around defenders Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) and Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s Rockets defense has not been this good since 2008 when they owned defensive talents such as Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, Rafer Alston and Shane Battier. Per 100 possessions, Houston ranked 8th in defensive rating with 103.4 points.

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