Grant Hill deserved All-Defensive honors

Hill defended everyone from Derrick Rose to Blake Griffin, but didn't earn an All-Defensive honor for his efforts. Copyright 2010 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Grant Hill may not have led the league in steals like Chris Paul, patrolled the paint like Dwight Howard or cracked SportsCenter’s Top 10 with transition swats like LeBron James, but the 38-year-old at least deserved a spot on the 2010-11 All-Defensive second team.

Whether he was locking down Kevin Durant or Manu Ginobili, Hill proved to be without a doubt one of the premier on-the-ball defenders in the NBA.

He led the league in charges taken and despite playing for a Suns team that ranked 26th in opponent’s field goal percentage, the 15-year vet consistently held superstars well under their scoring averages and shooting percentages.

But when the NBA’s 30 coaches put their heads together to vote on the best 10 defenders in the NBA — restricted by position — Hill was left on the outside looking in, falling four points shy of both Andre Iguodala and Joakim Noah.

His teammates were dumbfounded as Hakim Warrick Tweeted, “How did @realgranthill33 not make 1st or 2nd team all defensive?”

Steve Nash replied, “Seriously! Every night. Different positions. Deserved it.”

But no one was more disappointed than Hill’s longtime coach and All-Defensive spokesman Alvin Gentry.

The Suns head coach told The Arizona Republic, “No one did more defensively for their team than him. He got punished for what we did as a team. I’d like to know who else guarded Amar’e Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Manu Ginobili, Kevin Durant and everything but a five.”

The coaches got the majority of the two teams correct as it’s hard to argue against Rajon Rondo, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard on the first team and Chris Paul, Tony Allen and Tyson Chandler on the second team.

But Hill outperformed Kobe Bryant — a first-team selection — on the defensive end, while rivaling both Iguoudala and Noah. In fact, if it weren’t for Noah being listed as both a forward and center, Hill would have made the second team as the squad’s second forward.

Both Noah and Iguodala finished with 15 total points (a first-team vote is worth two points and a second-team vote is worth one), while Hill ended up with 11 total points. Hill did, however, finish with four first-team votes, which was one more than Noah (three) and the most among players on the bubble.

What’s most mind-boggling is that Hill finished seventh in the NBA in Defensive Player of the Year voting, ahead of Bryant, Iguodala and Noah. Hill was also one of only five players not named Dwight Howard to finish with at least one first-place vote.

Kobe’s reputation landed him on the first team, as it’s tough to look past eight previous All-Defensive selections. But Hill, who has never made an All-Defensive team, did a better job defensively than Bryant this season.

According to Synergy Sports Technology, Hill held opponents to 0.83 points per possession, while Kobe yielded 0.89 PPP. Kobe did trump Hill in isolation defense, allowing only 0.76 PPP to Hill’s 0.87, but he played on a team surrounded by defensive talent.

Ron Artest more often than not took the opposing team’s best player, and the versatile Lamar Odom allowed Kobe to defend strictly shooting guards. Hill, on the other hand, guarded everyone from Derrick Rose (whom he held to an average of 10-for-24 shooting in two games) to Dirk Nowitzki and Blake Griffin.

Based on the numbers and defensive value to their respective team, Hill deserved the nod over Kobe. The only problem is that Hill didn’t qualify as a shooting guard, so first-team honors was out of the question.

But he still should have earned a spot over either Iguodala or Noah. While Iguodala edged Hill in PPP (0.81), the Suns’ SF held opponents to a lower FG% overall (36.8 compared to 37.9) and in isolation situations (36.6 compared to 42.3).

There’s no hiding Iguodala’s defensive prowess, but Hill shut down a wider range of players while playing stellar team defense. It’s hard to compare Hill and Noah because they play different positions, so the defensive numbers don’t have as much value.

But Noah played only 48 games, compared to Hill’s 80. How can a player that competed in just over half of the games make second-team All-Defense?  With all of that said, Hill deserved a spot over Bryant, Iguodala and Noah, yet his outstanding defensive season goes unnoticed.

Here’s a look at whom he locked down over the course of the regular season:

Time (MST)/Result
Mon, Dec 26New OrleansL 84-85FSAZ0-1
Wed, Dec 28PhiladelphiaL 83-103FSAZ0-2
Fri, Dec 30at New OrleansW 93-78NBA TV/FSAZ1-2
Sat, Dec 31at Oklahoma CityL 97-107FSAZ1-3
Mon, Jan 2Golden StateW 102-91FSAZ2-3
Wed, Jan 4at DallasL 89-98FSAZ2-4
Fri, Jan 6PortlandW 102-77ESPN/FSAZ3-4
Sun, Jan 8MilwaukeeW 109-93FSAZ4-4
Tue, Jan 10at LA LakersL 83-99NBA TV/FSAZ4-5
Thu, Jan 12ClevelandL 90-101FSAZ Plus4-6
Fri, Jan 13New JerseyL 103-110FSAZ4-7
Sun, Jan 15at San AntonioL 91-102ESPN/FSAZ4-8
Tue, Jan 17at ChicagoL 97-118FSAZ4-9
Wed, Jan 18at New YorkW 91-88FSAZ5-9
Fri, Jan 20at BostonW 79-71FSAZ6-9
Mon, Jan 23at DallasL 87-93FSAZ6-10
Tue, Jan 24TorontoL 96-99FSAZ6-11
Fri, Jan 27at PortlandL 71-109FSAZ6-12
Sat, Jan 28MemphisW 86-84FSAZ7-12
Mon, Jan 30DallasL 99-122FSAZ7-13
Wed, Feb 1at New OrleansW 120-103FSAZ8-13
Fri, Feb 3at HoustonL 81-99FSAZ8-14
Sat, Feb 4CharlotteW 95-89FSAZ9-14
Mon, Feb 6at AtlantaW 99-90FSAZ10-14
Tue, Feb 7at MilwaukeeW 107-105FSAZ11-14
Thu, Feb 9HoustonL 89-96FSAZ11-15
Sat, Feb 11at SacramentoW 98-84NBA TV/FSAZ12-15
Mon, Feb 13at Golden StateL 96-102NBA TV/FSAZ12-16
Tue, Feb 14at DenverL 92-109FSAZ12-17
Wed, Feb 15AtlantaL 99-101FSAZ12-18
Fri, Feb 17at LA LakersL 99-111ESPN/FSAZ12-19
Sun, Feb 19LA LakersW 102-90FSAZ13-19
Mon, Feb 20WashingtonW 104-88FSAZ14-19
Wed, Feb 22Golden StateL 104-106FSAZ14-20
Thu, Mar 1MinnesotaW 104-95FSAZ15-20
Fri, Mar 2LA ClippersW 81-78ESPN/FSAZ16-20
Sun, Mar 4SacramentoW 96-88FSAZ17-20
Wed, Mar 7at Oklahoma CityL 104-115FSAZ Plus17-21
Thu, Mar 8DallasW 96-94TNT18-21
Sat, Mar 10MemphisW 98-91FSAZ19-21
Mon, Mar 12MinnesotaL 124-127FSAZ19-22
Wed, Mar 14UtahW 120-111FSAZ20-22
Thu, Mar 15at LA ClippersW 91-87FSAZ21-22
Fri, Mar 16DetroitW 109-101FSAZ22-22
Sun, Mar 18HoustonW 99-86FSAZ23-22
Tue, Mar 20at MiamiL 95-99FSAZ23-23
Wed, Mar 21at OrlandoL 93-103FSAZ23-24
Fri, Mar 23at IndianaW 113-111FSAZ24-24
Sun, Mar 25at ClevelandW 108-83NBA TV/FSAZ25-24
Tue, Mar 27San AntonioL 100-107FSAZ25-25
Wed, Mar 28at LA ClippersL 86-103NBA TV/FSAZ25-26
Sun, Apr 1New OrleansW 92-75FSAZ26-26
Tue, Apr 3at SacramentoW 99-90FSAZ27-26
Wed, Apr 4at UtahW 107-105FSAZ28-26
Fri, Apr 6at DenverL 99-105FSAZ Plus28-27
Sat, Apr 7LA LakersW 125-105FSAZ29-27
Mon, Apr 9at MinnesotaW 114-90ESPN2/FSAZ30-27
Wed, Apr 11at MemphisL 93-104FSAZ30-28
Fri, Apr 13at HoustonW 112-105ESPN/FSAZ31-28
Sat, Apr 14at San AntonioL 91-105ESPN/FSAZ31-29
Mon, Apr 16PortlandW 125-107FSAZ32-29
Wed, Apr 18Oklahoma CityL 97-109FSAZ32-30
Thu, Apr 19LA ClippersW 93-90TNT33-30
Sat, Apr 21DenverL 107-118ESPN/FSAZ33-31
Tue, Apr 24at UtahL 88-100TNT33-32
Wed, Apr 25San AntonioL 106-110ESPN/FSAZ33-33

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