Boasting the league's stingiest defense may not have been enough to vault the Pacers to the NBA Finals this season, but it did manage to assist Paul George and Roy Hibbert in earning some well-deserved post-season All-Defensive team accolades. According to NBA.com, selection to one of the NBA's All-Defensive Teams was decided by a panel of 123 writers and broadcasters from the United States and Canada. A player received two points for a first place vote and one point for a second place vote:
Receiving 161 points, Paul George was selected to the All-Defensive First Team alongside the Chicago Bulls' reigning DPOY Joakim Noah (223 points), Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (156 points), Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder (152 points), and Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors (148 points). George has previously been named to the the NBA's All-Defensive Second Team for the 2012-2013 season.
Aside from earning the second highest point total, PG, with 65 first place votes, trailed only Joakim Noah, who received 105 first team votes. After finishing in seventh place in the DPOY balloting and failing to garner a single first place vote, it is nice to see PG earn some recognition for his elite lock-down perimeter defense. During the season, NBA.com notes that, "George ranked fifth in the league in steals (1.89 spg) and was the only player in the NBA to average at least 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals." In terms of various advanced metrics, George was the league's best perimeter defender statistically. Allowing just 97.0 points per 100 possessions, George ranked third in the league behind only two interior defenders, Joakim Noah (95.8) and Andrew Bogut (96.3). George also bested all other perimeter defenders in terms of defensive win shares. With 6.4 DWS on the season, PG, once again, trailed only Chicago's Joakim Noah (6.6).
Meanwhile, long considered a front-runner for the league's most prestigious defensive award, Roy Hibbert, with 76 points, was named to the All-Defensive Second Team and was joined by the Miami Heat's LeBron James (134 points), Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs (89 points), Patrick Beverly of the Houston Rockets (112 points), and the Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler (103 points).
Hibbert was awarded the lowest point total of all ten players recognized by the panel and also received the fewest number of first place votes with just 15 first-team selections. Of course, only one true center can make the All-Defensive First Team, and the panel, as reflected with their votes, leaned predominantly toward Joakim Noah over Hibbert. Noah, as previously stated, received the highest point total (223) and most first-team votes (105). These results are in keeping with the DPOY returns where Noah, once again, finished first with 555 points and 100 first place votes. Meanwhile, Hibbert finished second overall in the DPOY balloting with 166 points and only 8 first place votes.
While Roy's lack of foot speed oftentimes prevented him this season from effectively guarding stretch fives, his interior defense on the year was, for the most part, top notch. Along with being the maverick of the law of verticality, Hibbert ranked fourth in the league in blocks with 2.2 per game, allowed just 98.2 points per 100 possessions, and allowed the lowest opponent field goal percentage at the rim at just 41.4% (Note: this remained true through the Pacers' playoff run where opponent's made just 45% of field goals against Hibbert).
Although some were not actually selected, NBA.com reveals that all five members of the Pacers' starting line-up received votes. Lance Stephenson received three first place votes and earned a total of 14 points, while George Hill and David West each earned two points.
Finishing the year with the league's best defense (allowing just 99.3 points per 100 possessions) and being capable of boasting two All-NBA defenders on the same roster are certainly distinctions worthy of being not only acknowledged but also celebrated by the Pacers' franchise. That being said, there is always room for improvement, and Frank Vogel noted at today's end of season press conference that he believes his team may need to become more diversified defensively in future seasons as the league continues to evolve offensively with greater usage of smaller line-ups and stretch shooters.