After letting it slip from his grip for just one season, Panathinaikos point guard Dimitris Diamantidis once again owns the Best Defender Trophy after dominating a vote by Turkish Airlines Euroleague head coaches. This marks the sixth time in seven seasons since its inception that Diamantidis has won the award. What's more, since he was a rookie that first year, Diamantidis has been voted the best defender for all except one year that he has played in the Euroleague. The only time he did not receive the trophy was last season, when he finished third in the voting. This season, Diamantidis was the overwhelming top choice of Euroleague head coaches, who gave him more than double the votes of any other player. Although Diamantidis ranked 10th in the competition with 1.6 steals per game and was second among all guards with 3.8 rebounds, his impact is much greater than numbers. On-the-ball pressure, an unique ability to guard multiple positions and the leadership of his team's entire defense all make Diamantidis a constant concern for opposing teams. Using his long arms, quickness and great basketball IQ, Diamantidis has not only mastered the art of defense, but has become expert at turning defensive stops into easy transition points. For all those reasons, Euroleague head coaches have not only awarded Diamantidis the Best Defender Trophy again this year, but having done so repeatedly, have assured his status as one of the greatest defensive players in Euroleague history.
Diamantidis was followed in the coaches' voting by three more players who put their teams in the Final Four: power forward Shaun Stonerook of Montepaschi Siena, the Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv duo of guard Doron Perkins and forward Chuck Eidson. Also getting multiple votes were Ricky Rubio and Fran Vazquez of Regal FC Barcelona, as well as James Gist of Partizan mt:s Belgrade. The Best Defender Trophy is the second of several end-of-season honors awarded by Euroleague Basketball. Already announced was the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy, which was won by Igor Rakocevic of Efes Pilsen. Still to be announced are the Euroleague Rising Star Trophy for players under 22 and the nominees for the All-Euroleague first and second teams. The All-Euroleague first and second teams, plus the Euroleague MVP, will be revealed at the EFES Pilsener Euroleague Awards Ceremony on May 7 at the Final Four in Barcelona. Two other awards, the Aleksander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy and the Euroleague Club Executive of the Year, are post-season awards.
Panathinaikos had the fifth-best defense of the regular season as Diamantidis finished fourth with 2.1 steals per game, including highs of 4 each in the opening and closing victories that left the Greens first in their group. In the Top 16, Diamantidis was the point man for a Panathinaikos defense that allowed fewer points, 65.8 per game, than any other team, although the Greens dropped to second place in a tie-break finish. In the playoffs, faced with a defending champion, Regal FC Barcelona, which held homecourt advantage and had averaged 77.3 points in its first 16 games. The Panathinaikos defense led by Diamantidis held Barcelona to almost 4 points fewer in winning the series in four games, thus assuring that there will be a new Euroleague champion this season. At the end of the playoffs, Panathinaikos had the Euroleague’s third-best defense for the season, allowing just under 70 points per game. It is worth noting that Diamantidis remained a defensive stalwart while turning in his best offensive season of seven with Panathinaikos in the Euroleague. Diamantidis has averaged 12.6 points, made 35 three-pointers and dished 5.7 assists per game, which are all career highs. In fact, the 113 assists he has accounted for are already among the 10 best single-season assist totals in competition history.
Although his newest Best Defender Trophy is based on the merit of his 2010-11 season performances, it merely adds to the impact Diamantidis has had on defensive stats over his career. He is ranked third on the career steals charts with 271 total and, among the top 10 players on that list, has the best steals average, 1.88 per game. At 1.96 meters tall, Diamantidis is easily the shortest player among the top 20 all-time best defensive rebounders or the top 25 best shot-blockers in the Euroleague since 2000. Diamantidis’s sixth Best Defender Trophy joins an impressive group of trophies he has garnered over his career, including two Euroleague titles, six Greek League championships, five Greek Cups plus a EuroBasket gold and FIBA World Championships silver medal with the Greek national team. He was a member of the All-Euroleague First Team for the 2006-07 season and was voted the Euroleague Final Four MVP as his team won the 2007 title at home in Athens. Diamantidis will be presented with the Best Defender Trophy at the EFES Pilsener Euroleague Awards Ceremony on May 7 in Barcelona.