The Los Angeles Lakers posted the best defense in the NBA this season, allowing just 106.8 points per 100 possessions over their 72 games. A variety of players contributed to that across the roster, but none of them were deemed worthy of either the First or Second NBA All-Defensive teams by this year’s media voting contingent.
The league announced the teams and results of the voting on Monday, and while Anthony Davis, Dennis Schröder Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso all got votes from the media, none got enough to make the team, despite head coach Frank Vogel lobbying hard for the last two as the season wound to a close.
By contrast, the Sixers, who finished 0.2 points per 100 possessions behind the Lakers, got three players on the teams. The Bucks and Heat, who had the ninth and 10th-best defenses in the NBA, respectively, got two players each. The last time a team with the best defensive rating in the league received zero All-Defense honorees was the 2009-10 Milwaukee Bucks.
Here are the full All-Defensive teams, and the list of how many votes each player got:
The 2020-21 NBA All-Defensive First Team:— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) June 14, 2021
Here's the NBA All-Defensive Second Team:— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) June 14, 2021
Also Dennis Schröder got votes. Read to fast and missed that.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) June 14, 2021
It’s hard to work up the energy to get too upset about this, given the names that beat the Lakers out. I mean, all those guys are really good, all-world defenders. Maybe Caruso could have a case to sneak in over Thybulle, but it’s hard to quibble a ton with this. After all, it was kind of predictable. Check the date on this tweet:
I'm telling you all: It's going to be hilarious when the Lakers finish with either the top defense or in the top 3 and get no all-defense players and Vogel finishes like eighth in COTY voting. https://t.co/EbTt0PK6RW— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) April 14, 2021
Also, Davis — and likely LeBron James — almost assuredly would have made it were they healthy all year. In fact, James receiving zero votes at all is more of a travesty than any of the Lakers that did get votes not making it. He was the central force in the team’s defense this year when he was in the lineup.
But the larger takeaway here would seem to be less about the “snubs,” and more about how the Lakers being better than literally every single other team in the league on defense this season despite having no defenders viewed as one of the league’s ten best. That’s a tribute to how hard this team fought, and how cohesive they were, even amidst injuries and other misfortune. Vogel genuinely got this group to come together, and to be greater than the sum of their parts. He didn’t get any Coach of the Year love, either, but it is what it is. Even if the league as a whole doesn’t recognize it, and even if the season ended in a flameout, all of us here will always know what we saw on that end, and how special this team could be at shutting their opponents’ water off.