Domantas Sabonis Apr 12, 2024; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis (10) reacts to a call during the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA officially released the results of the 2023-24 regular season awards and All-NBA teams on Thursday, which are voted on by a global panel of 99 sportswriters and broadcasters. And while most of the panel had pretty justifiable votes, others had some extremely questionable entries, none more than Spanish newspaper Marca writer Ignacio “Nacho” Garcia.

Sacrament Kings star forward Domantas Sabonis had an excellent 2023-24 season, being named to the All-NBA Third Team after a year where he averaged 19.4 points per game, 13.7 rebounds per game, and 8.2 assists per game.

With those kinds of numbers, Sabonis was undoubtedly deserving of that honor. But one part of his game that is not considered all that elite compared to some of his peers comes on the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive stats aren’t the end-all-be-all, as some players can pop off the television screen when you watch them on defense and just happen not to put up gaudy stats. But by all accounts, Sabonis is just… a fine defender, nothing more and nothing less. And even that may be a bit too bullish on his defensive skills. If you were wondering what his defensive stats were, Sabonis averaged just 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks this past season.

García, an NBA writer with the popular Spanish newspaper Marca, is seemingly far higher on the All-NBA star’s defensive skills than just about anyone else voting on the NBA regular season awards.

The lone vote Sabonis received for the Defensive Player of the Year award came from García, giving him a third-place vote worth one point. He was also the only voter to vote for Sabonis to be on the First Team All-Defense.

García was quite high on Sabonis overall compared to his peer voters, voting for him to be an All-NBA First Team member, even giving him a fourth-place vote to be the Most Valuable Player in basketball.

Again, the issue here is not for García being high on Sabonis as a player. But when you vote for a player like Sabonis who is by most estimations an average defender to be the Defensive Player of the Year over the likes of Anthony Davis and other elite defenders, there are naturally going to be questions asked about the decision.

Many NBA fans made light of Garcia’s extremely questionable votes for Sabonis on social media.

It’s interesting that García even receives a vote for the NBA awards in the first place considering Marca is largely a sports newspaper/website focused more on soccer than NBA commentary.

This kind of vote truly makes you wonder how the NBA decides who gets a vote on their regular season awards. And whether or not these voters are being held accountable for their picks by someone so there is some kind of proper evaluation of who truly deserves these awards.

Ed Note: The original post identified the voter in question as Juan Ignacio-Garcia Ochoa, a director at Marca instead of NBA writer Ignacio Garcia. We apologize for the error.


About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.