Why LeBron James is DPOY

NBA's best player does it on both ends of the floor

Updated: April 12, 2013, 12:27 PM ET
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine
Carmelo AnthonyMike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesNight in, night out, LeBron James puts as much effort into defense as offense.

LeBron James' unique combination of size, speed and strength gives him a superior advantage on offense. Because of those skills and physical gifts, he has convincingly claimed the title of the game's best player and built an impressive MVP collection to go with a long list of lofty accomplishments.

In fact, he's won virtually every individual award for which he has been eligible except Defensive Player of the Year. The impressive physical tools and keen basketball understanding that made him one of the game's best offensive players help him equally on the other side of the court. With a commitment to defense, which began four or five years ago, constant film study and irreplaceable effort, James has become of one the game's best defensive players.

James is the only player averaging 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks per game and the first to do it in four years. Of the eight defensive play types tracked by Synergy Sports, which include defending the pick-and-roll, post-ups and isolations, James rates as excellent or very good in half of them. Of the three players who finished ahead of him last year in the Defensive Player of the Year voting, none rate excellent or very good in more than three categories. James anchors a defense that most believe will help Miami capture its second straight title.

But James should win Defensive Player of the Year this season too.

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine