Derrick White was robbed of an All-Defensive spot this year but the San Antonio Spurs point guard’s time is coming
There’s no sugarcoating it, this was an incredibly down year for the San Antonio Spurs on the defensive side of the ball. Long known as one of the best defensive teams in the league, the Spurs had their worst defensive rating in franchise history this year.
While the team certainly struggled as a whole, there were bright spots across the roster. Lonnie Walker flashed signs of what he’s capable of when he puts his athleticism to use on the defensive end, Keldon Johnson put the clamps on Luka Doncic at one point, and Dejounte Murray even received some recognition and a few votes for the All-Defensive Team.
Credit where credit is due, Dejounte was a beast on the defensive end of the floor this year. He was a league leader in steals and deflections and was consistently tasked with shutting down some of the most dangerous scorers in the league. But there’s another member of the San Antonio backcourt who should have received some votes for the All-Defensive Team.
Derrick White was undeservedly snubbed from an All-Defensive Team
It’s an indictment of each of the media members and broadcasters who cast votes for the All-Defensive Team that Derrick White didn’t receive a single vote this year. As dangerous as Murray is on the defensive end of the floor, White might be the more well rounded and impactful player. He deserves to be recognized as such.
White does everything well on defense so let’s get into exactly why it’s such an utter travesty that he didn’t receive his due. Let’s start by digging into his absolutely insane block numbers.
White was second among all guards in blocks this year with 59 and he did that while playing just 24.7 minutes per game, much less than what you’ll see from most of the other players on the All-Defensive Team.
He averaged more blocks per 100 possessions than Giannis Antentokoumpo and only trailed the current DPOY by seven blocks across the entire regular season. He tallied twice the number of blocks as Marcus Smart, Eric Bledsoe, and Patrick Beverley. And yet, White didn’t receive a single vote.
When he wasn’t blocking shots, White was doing everything he could do contest his opponent’s shots and make things harder for them. He contested 574 shots during the regular season, just a few less than Giannis who finished with 589.
Again, White far outpaced other members on the All-Defensive Team. Kawhi Leonard finished with 411, Smart racked up 403, Bledsoe came in at 374, Simmons got 308, and Beverley ended up with 215.
Let me repeat this again: Derrick White finished with nearly twice as many contested shots as Ben Simmons and over twice as many as Patrick Beverley, while also racking up more blocks than either of them and didn’t receive a single vote for the All-Defensive Team.
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If that’s not enough for you, let’s look at charges drawn. This isn’t the most glamorous stat but it truly makes a difference and is, in my opinion, a strong indicator of a player’s willingness to go the extra mile and put his body in harm’s way for the betterment of his team.
White finished second in the league in charges drawn, just behind the Ironman Kyle Lowry, with 30. For comparison, Smart drew 12 charges across the regular season and Patrick Beverley drew just 8.
We often hear how scrappy and tough those two guards are, how willing they are to stick their nose into trouble, and mix it up on defense. So where is that praise for White? The numbers say he’s doing that more often and more efficiently than those two, so why doesn’t he get the recognition that he deserves?
In this case, it really comes down to two things: the market White plays in, and the quality of the Spurs defense as a whole. Derrick’s not playing for a big market team like the Clippers or the Celtics, he’s playing for the San Antonio Spurs, one of the most low-key teams in the entire NBA. And this award is voted on by the media, who time and time again have shown a preference for players in big markets.
Further piling onto this was the poor performance of the Spurs defense overall. Bledsoe, Smart, and Beverley were all key pieces of top-five defensive units. White was a defensive superstar toiling away on a bottom-five defense. The Spurs ranked 25th in the league in defensive rating and points allowed. No matter how good Derrick was it’s going to be hard for him to get the credit he deserves while his team is performing so poorly.
Derrick White is one of the best defensive guards in the entire league. The San Antonio Spurs and their fans know this. But until his team starts performing better he’s never going to get the recognition and awards that he’s very clearly deserving of.