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Paul George should be the Defensive Player of the Year

George is an outside candidate for the MVP award
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Paul George has vastly improved this season, increasing his offensive output to the point of being in the MVP discussion, if only just on the outside. He has increased his scoring from 17.4 points per game to 22.6 points per game, while shooting a higher percentage from the floor, increasing his free throw attempts per game dramatically, shooting a career high percentage from the charity stripe, while having his highest Offensive Win Share output of his career.

The one constant in George's career? His elite defensive ability. George is currently leading the NBA in Defensive Win Shares with 4.8, with Joakim Noah being the player closest to him with 4.2. This isn't a new trend for him either; he led the league last season in Defensive Win Shares with 6.3. George is the first perimeter player since Larry Bird in the 1985-86 season to lead the league in Defensive Win Shares, and he's on the verge of doing it again this year. For comparison's sake, Gary Payton, largely considered the greatest perimeter defensive player of all time, has a "measly" career high in Defensive Win Shares of 5.6, well short of George's 6.3. Similarly, Michael Jordan, who won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 1987-88, had a career high 6.1 Defensive Win Shares during the same season. George's defensive ability is comparable to two of the best perimeter defenders of all time, and advanced stats support his claim as the leagues' best defender.

Understandably, the argument against George is that he has defensive mastermind Frank Vogel as his coach, who preaches defense above all else. The other argument to be made against him is the fact that he plays with one of the NBA's elite defensive centers in Roy Hibbert. There's a reason why Indiana's whole starting lineup is ranked within the top 10 in Defensive Win Shares and 4 of the 5 Indiana starters are top 10 ranked in Defensive Rating.

However, there is a reason why George is 1st among them in Defensive Win Shares and 2nd in Defensive Rating, and it's surprising that his name hasn't been mentioned a lot in the discussion for the Defensive Player of the Year award.