The NBA released the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive team award winners on Wednesday. Rudy Gobert was the top vote-getter, receiving 94 first-team votes despite his all-defensive team understudy, Joel Embiid, was one of the best defensive players in the league. Anthony Davis, perhaps the league’s most versatile defender, also received a large number of first-team votes. The biggest surprise on the list is probably Dejounte Murray, San Antonio’s wiry defensive on-ball pest.
Gary Harris received three all-defensive second team votes. He led the Nuggets in steals in 2017-18, averaging 1.8 per game. Harris was Denver’s on-ball ace this season on the defensive end, often tasked with defending opposing team’s best backcourt player. Denver’s defense was 3.1 points per 100 possessions better with Harris on the court last season than it was when he was on the bench, the best defensive on/off mark on the team.
Will Barton also received a second-team vote. This one is a bit more surprising. Barton showed some defensive versatility this year, guarding point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards but he hasn’t had a defensive reputation in his six seasons in the NBA. The Nuggets defense was 1.2 points per 100 possessions better with Barton on the court but Barton was rarely the linchpin of the team’s defensive scheme. He did, however, have a handful of very big defensive games including a 4-block game against the Los Angeles Lakers in December, a 5-steal game against the Spurs in January, and a pair of 4-steal 2-block games against the Magic and Heat.
The voting pool is made up of 100 prominent NBA analysts and media members. You can view the complete list of voters here and start speculating on which media members might’ve cast a vote for either Harris or Barton.
Congratulations to both Harris and Barton!