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Thread: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

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    You Did It Joseph!!!! AesopRockOn's Avatar
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    Default Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    Pacers' O'Neal seeks defensive recognition
    By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer
    January 13, 2007

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal doesn't mind being out of the spotlight these days.
    Three years ago, the Indiana Pacers star finished third in the MVP voting and was touted as one of the young players who would carry the NBA for years to come.
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    But as quickly as O'Neal grew into a star for all the right reasons, things turned ugly. His role in the brawl with Detroit Pistons fans two seasons ago cost him 15 games and sullied his reputation, and injuries and suspensions kept him out of 69 regular-season games in a two-year span.
    The Pacers' recent early playoff exits combined with O'Neal's high income -- his $16 million-plus salary last season was near the top of the league -- made him an easy target for critics.
    Quietly and methodically, the 6-foot-11, 260-pound forward/center has bounced back and is having perhaps the best season of his 11-year career. He's averaging 19.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and a league-best 3.2 blocks per game, sparking early discussions about him contending for the defensive player of the year award.
    The honor would be a coup for the 28-year-old O'Neal, who has never made an all-defense team despite averaging nearly two blocks per game during his career.
    "I definitely want to win the award," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It's something I could tell my kids I did in my career. I've got a great chance. The key is to stay focused, and I'm going to let the chips fall where they may."
    O'Neal's quest comes as the league is pushing a new wave of stars that includes Cleveland's LeBron James, Miami's Dwyane Wade and Denver's Carmelo Anthony.
    O'Neal believes he still has a place among the league's elite.
    "Numbers-wise, I haven't had down years," he said. "I've had down years because I've been hurt. Sometimes, people lose sight of what you do. If you ain't winning, anything you do is nothing."
    Indiana coach Rick Carlisle acknowledges that O'Neal's success hasn't drawn much attention outside locker rooms.
    "He's established a level of consistency over the last five years that maybe people take a little for granted what he does," Carlisle said.
    O'Neal acknowledges being drained after the brawl, the injuries and Ron Artest's trade request last season that wrecked a team expected to contend for the NBA title.
    "I felt myself last year not liking basketball anymore," he said. "I was playing because that's what I had to do. When the season was over, I felt free, almost. I said 'J.O., you can never, never be in that position again."'
    O'Neal took some time off after last season, then focused on conditioning and trimming down. He watched tapes of former Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon to get his blocking techniques down. He cut his signature cornrows to represent a new start and now wears a brush cut.
    "I wanted a new look, a new feeling, a new everything," he said.
    The changes are paying off.
    He's logging career highs in rebounds, steals and blocks. He blocks shots with either hand, often surprising shooters by coming across from the weak side. Many times, opponents shoot jumpers, not bothering to challenge him. He's been more aggressive than ever defensively, yet he's committed fewer personal fouls per game than in any season since he became a regular starter in 2000-2001.
    "He's gotten better," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. "I don't think defense is something that's always been heavy on his mind, but it seems like he's made a conscious effort the last few years to get better at it."
    Indiana center Jeff Foster said O'Neal helps clean up mistakes by the team's perimeter defenders.
    "I think guys know they have Jermaine back there, and if they are beat, they let them go and Jermaine will take care of the rest," Foster said. "He's done a great job this year doing that, and probably won quite a few games for us just being there and getting the shots knocked back out."
    Boston forward Al Jefferson, who has worked out with O'Neal in the past, said O'Neal's success is as much mental as physical.
    "It's kind of hard to score on him because he's the type of guy who studies your moves and knows what you're going to do," Jefferson said.
    O'Neal also has improved offensively. He's never averaged more than 2.1 assists in a season, yet he's averaging three per game this season.
    Since missing the Dec. 26 game against Houston due to illness, O'Neal has averaged 21.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in seven games. And though his overall scoring is down from recent years, he's shooting better from the field -- 46 percent -- than he did the year he finished third in the MVP race.
    Despite his success, the Pacers are 20-17 and their inconsistency frustrates O'Neal, who knows the clock is ticking on his championship dreams. He has voiced his frustrations, sparking trade rumors, but he says he wants to remain a Pacer as long as the organization is moving forward.
    "I don't want to be traded," he said. "I want to reach my goal and win a championship in a Pacers uniform."
    But O'Neal knows it won't happen if the team doesn't mesh or the right pieces aren't in place.
    "If I can't guide my team, and if we can't as an organization get a team installed that can win a championship -- and that's what it's all about, winning a championship -- then we should part ways if both parties can't do their job collectively, can't work together and achieve the ultimate goal," he said. "When you're young, you try to achieve individual goals," O'Neal said. "You tend to care about that, getting noticed, wanting the NBA to push you. Once you get a little older and your body starts to wear a little bit, you tend to care about the team, what the team is doing." AP Sports Writer Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.


    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_yl...v=ap&type=lgns by Cliff Brunt on Yahoo.com


    JO has definitely stepped it up and has been great but who else do you think is in the running for DPOY at this point?
    You Got The Tony!!!!!!

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    Member J_2_Da_IzzO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    At this moment I dont see another candidate for DPOY. JO is by far ahead of the rest in my opinion. Its a shame hes never been in the all defensive team as well he has deserved it.
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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    I couldn't vote for JO as defensive player of the year. His one-on-one defense is average - he's somewhat lazy while playing defense until it is time to block a shot or take a charge, I realize I sound a little harsh but we are taking about DPOY. And I don't even know if JO is the best defender on the Pacers team - at the very least IMO he isn't "clearly the best" So no I wouldn't vote for him as DPOY

    Yes he is an excellent shot blocker and yes he takes a lot of charges and for that maybe he deserves to be on the second team all defensive team - but not DPOY. He isn't that good.

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    The Last Great Pacer BlueNGold's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    JO has been so effective at blocking shots this year, I think he has a chance. The ability to take charges will also be a factor. However, he does not strike me as a great man on man defender. In fact, I consider him not aggressive enough on D to be considered DPOY. Yes, he blocks shots and takes charges, but there is more to good D than that.

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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    I couldn't vote for JO as defensive player of the year. His one-on-one defense is average - he's somewhat lazy while playing defense until it is time to block a shot or take a charge, I realize I sound a little harsh but we are taking about DPOY. And I don't even know if JO is the best defender on the Pacers team - at the very least IMO he isn't "clearly the best" So no I wouldn't vote for him as DPOY

    Yes he is an excellent shot blocker and yes he takes a lot of charges and for that maybe he deserves to be on the second team all defensive team - but not DPOY. He isn't that good.

    When was the last time you saw someone go at him, one-on-one?

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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    The good thing here is that the DPoY is often times awarded to the top shotblocker. I know I've heard Ben Wallace's one-on-one defense to be average (not that I'm agreeing).

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    It Might Be a Soft J JayRedd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueNGold View Post
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    JO has been so effective at blocking shots this year, I think he has a chance. The ability to take charges will also be a factor. However, he does not strike me as a great man on man defender. In fact, I consider him not aggressive enough on D to be considered DPOY. Yes, he blocks shots and takes charges, but there is more to good D than that.
    Wow...Really? JO has been as active at controlling the paint as he's ever been. And while he may not be quite Ben Wallace in terms of movement and activity, he's altering A LOT of shots in the paint.

    As for one-on-one defense, he isn't regularly asked to guard the opposing team's best low-post threat. So he is often sagging off and not focusing on his own man. Which I don't see as non-aggressiveness or overconcentrating on helpside defense. I see it as him doing what his role is. You can't hold that against him, IMO. That's his role. And he's playing the role that Rick Carlisle asks him to play at an extremely high level right now.
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    The Last Great Pacer BlueNGold's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    Quote Originally Posted by JayRedd View Post
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    Wow...Really? JO has been as active at controlling the paint as he's ever been. And while he may not be quite Ben Wallace in terms of movement and activity, he's altering A LOT of shots in the paint.

    As for one-on-one defense, he isn't regularly asked to guard the opposing team's best low-post threat. So he is often sagging off and not focusing on his own man. Which I don't see as non-aggressiveness or overconcentrating on helpside defense. I see it as him doing what his role is. You can't hold that against him, IMO. That's his role. And he's playing the role that Rick Carlisle asks him to play at an extremely high level right now.
    I think you make good points. You have to consider what JO is being asked to do...and he is doing an incredible job. He has never played better D IMO. I think part of it is due to his conditioning in the off season.

    I guess I am comparing him to Wallace's extreme aggressiveness. JMO, but I know for a fact if I wanted to defend a last second attempt by the other team, I would have Ben on the floor before JO. I think he has that intimidation factor and I think he might move a little quicker to the ball.

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    It Might Be a Soft J JayRedd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueNGold View Post
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    I guess I am comparing him to Wallace's extreme aggressiveness. JMO, but I know for a fact if I wanted to defend a last second attempt by the other team, I would have Ben on the floor before JO. I think he has that intimidation factor and I think he might move a little quicker to the ball.
    I definitely agree. The one thing that probably keeps JO from being an absolute elite defender is his lateral quickness. He just doesn't move quite as fast across the lane or sideways in a defensive position as the likes of Ben Wallace or KG.

    One thing he does do better than almost anyone though is jump straight up. I've been amazed at this watching him all year. His patience has been outstanding as well. When he's facing up someone who's about to go up for a shot, he rarely jumps until after they do. Then he goes straight up to slap it out the air.

    I was pretty surprised to see him fly out at Dirk the other night. But, I guess that says a lot for how much people fear Dirk's jumper and how well he uses shot fakes.
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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    Dikembe Mutumbo was never a great 1 on 1 defender, but he's blocked a ton of shots over his career. I don't remember the last time he took a charge. But how many times has he won the award? I don't think Ben ever won the award because of aggressiveness. He won it because of the number of shots he blocked (though I'm sure the aggressiveness helped). Same with Ron Artest, he got a lot of steals. If the award was based on aggressiveness, then Dale Davis would have been in the running a dozen times over his career...

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    It Might Be a Soft J JayRedd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    Quote Originally Posted by Ev_eezy View Post
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    Dikembe Mutumbo was never a great 1 on 1 defender, but he's blocked a ton of shots over his career. I don't remember the last time he took a charge. But how many times has he won the award? I don't think Ben ever won the award because of aggressiveness. He won it because of the number of shots he blocked (though I'm sure the aggressiveness helped). Same with Ron Artest, he got a lot of steals. If the award was based on aggressiveness, then Dale Davis would have been in the running a dozen times over his career...
    Alas...you're probably right. I imagine most of the voters look at the stat leader list to get their initial list of candidates, and just play eenie-meenie-mynie-moe to pick a name. I mean, c'mon, these are the same people that voted Jason Kidd as First-Team All NBA Defense last year. I love JKidd, but let's at least pretend to pay attention to aging foot-speed here, people.


    On the bright side, if JO can finish the year with as high a differential in BPG as he has right now, he'd have to be a favorite for the award.
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    Default Re: Recognizing JO's Defensive Prowess

    Quote Originally Posted by imawhat View Post
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    When was the last time you saw someone go at him, one-on-one?
    Exactly!

    I sort of see where Buck is coming from but he doesn't mention any flaw in Jermaine's defense. Saying, "I don't think he's a good one-on-one defender" doesn't make it true. Has any PF/Center had a good game against him one-on-one all season?

    Actually, J.O. has really improved in that area this season. He's not just coming from the weak side to get blocks. He's blocking his man at the rim and keeping him from going to his favorite move to boot. Most important, he's been doing it consistently.
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