The results for the NBA All-Defensive selections are in, and fan-favorite and elite defender, P.J. Tucker, unfortunately did not make a team.
Breakdown of voting for NBA All Defensive Teams pic.twitter.com/QF5krCKI20— The Render (@TheRenderSports) May 22, 2019
Tucker received 1 first team vote and 36 second team votes for a total of 38 points. The Rockets frontcourt man was one point shy of tying Kawhi Leonard for a forward spot.
How Tucker was beat out by Leonard is perplexing. Leonard, while always an elite defender, played only 60 games this year on an average of 34 minutes per game, averaged 1.8 steals, and 0.4 blocks. Tucker’s defensive prowess was on stage every night of this NBA season, playing all 82 games, while averaging a career-high 34.2 minutes, another career-high 1.6 steals, and 0.8 blocks.
Still, there’s a much bigger conversation to be had about how he received so few votes in the first place. Tucker was the Rockets go-to and best defender all season and easily one of the best, most versatile defenders in the league. Not only was his number called to guard the opposing team’s best player every night, but the undersized forward was also expected to clog the paint and keep bigs off the boards as a small-ball center.
I’ll go out on a limb and say Tucker wasn’t granted one of the 10 spots because he is one of the least vocal players in the game. Tucker has made a living off of working hard and flying under the radar. In fact, he’s had a much more different approach when it comes to accolades.
P.J. Tucker had this to say about Chris Paul making an All-Defensive campaign on Tucker’s behalf earlier this year.
“I don’t know why he’s doing that,” Tucker said. “I’m not one of those guys that’s going to make my case for making it, be mad and cry if I don’t. I don’t care. I want to win. I don’t care if somebody says I’m the best or the worst defender. I’m going to go out and do what I do every single night no matter what. I never got praise for anything I’ve done so I don’t look for it. I love to win. Unless we win a championship, it will be a disappointment this year.”
Tucker seemed to address the issue today via his Instagram, and he’s still not interested in the results.
P.J. Tucker posted this on Instagram a few minutes ago, presumably about him not making the All-Defensive Team. #Rockets pic.twitter.com/B1I0pz8F5s— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) May 22, 2019
Two other Rockets players received All-Defensive votes too. Chris Paul received one first team vote and two second team votes for seven total points. A tad bit more interesting, James Harden received two first team votes for four total points. Do with that information what you will.
There is one positive takeaway from Tucker’s snub: the fact that we know he doesn’t need oversights like this to happen to play as hard as he possibly can every night. Tucker is interested in playing hard and winning and nothing more. That’s all you can ask for out of any guy on your team.