Offense win games, but defense wins Championships, a premise must players tend to forget while they’re working out on their games through their development years hoping to ever make it to the NBA.
Hundreds of players can be an offensive factor, but just a handful of them is ever able of making a true impact in the defensive end of the floor as well, with defensive minded players most likely being mediocre offensive players at best.
So, having a two-way franchise guy is something that doesn’t happen really often, and that’s what has made some players truly stand out from the pack and leave their names inked in basketball history throughout eternity.
Today, we’re going to talk about the only 4 players that have been ever able to win both the MVP award and also the Defensive Player of the Year, something no player seems capable of doing right now (except for perhaps Kawhi Leonard and Joel Embiid)
4. Kevin Garnett
MVP Season (2003-04): Following years and years of being left on an island with the Minnesota Timberwolves and piling up incredible numbers, KG finally had some help and upon Sam Cassell’s and Latrell Sprewell’s arrival, with the trio leading the team to a 58-24 record and Garnett winning the MVP with averages of 24.2 points, 13.9 boards, 5 dimes, 1.5 steals and 2.2 blocks per game. Sadly, the Los Angeles Lakers ended their playoffs run in the WCF.
DPOY Season (2007-08): Now a member of the Boston Celtics, Garnett put a lot of hustle in the defensive end of the floor as the team’s rim protector, leaving offensive duties mostly for Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Garnett became the first player in Celtics history to win this award and put the icing on top of the cake by beating the Lakers in the Finals.
3. David Robinson
MVP Season (1994-95): David Robinson had already established himself as an incredibly dominant two way force in the league, but it was until 1994 where he finally unleashed his full offensive potential following a scoring title with an MVP the very next season with averages of 27.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game, earning the award after leading the Spurs to a 62-20 record before suffering a WCF exit against the Rockets.
DPOY Season (1991-92): Robinson was a defensive force all season long over the 1992 campaign, but it wasn’t able to successfully lead the Spurs in the playoffs. Still, his 2.3 steals and 4.5 blocks per game made him a no-brainer front-runner for the DPOY award, but he’d still have to wait 7 years before winning his first NBA Championship.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon
MVP and DPOY season (1993-94): Hakeem was by far the most dominant two-way big man in the league, and arguably the most talented center in the history of the game alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he had already won his first DPOY award during the 1993 campaign before landing back-to-back accolades.
The Dream was the most skilled player in the league during Michael Jordan’s retirement and he almost single-handedly led the Rockets to a couple of Chips. Over his MVP Campaign, he averaged 27.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 3.7 blocks per game, earning also the DPOY honors before making it all the way to the Finals.
1. Michael Jordan
MVP and DPOY season (1987-88): 1997 was Michael’s breakout year and the year where he established himself as the most dominant player in the history of the game, winning the first of his 5 MVP awards due to his sick averages of 37.1 points (career high), 5.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game, winning not only the MVP and DPOY but also the scoring title.
Also, his 2.9 steals and 1.5 blocks per game, as well as his great hustle as a backcourt stopper, made him the league’s top-notch defender for the season, but sadly, it wasn’t enough to get his Chicago Bulls past the Pistons in the 2nd round of the playoffs, and he’d had to wait until the 1990-91 campaign to win his first NBA Championship.