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Defensive Player of the Year
- Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors – There is an argument to be made that Green isn’t the best pure defensive option on his team (see Bogut, Andrew), but there is no doubt that the former Michigan State product has been the most valuable commodity defensively (playing in all 58 games) for the best defensive squad in the NBA. Green is a perfect embodiment of the “new” NBA, with a virtually position-less approach, and he leads the league in both individual defensive rating and defensive win shares. Beyond that, the Warriors have been seven points better (per 100 poss.) with Green on the floor defensively, and his impact speaks for itself in terms of DPOY candidacy.
- Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz – It is so much fun to watch Rudy Gobert plays defense. Gobert’s length is virtually unmatched in the league, but he also presents a unique blend of athleticism and skill on that end of the floor, which allows Gobert to lead the NBA in deterring shots at the rim (38.0% FG allowed). The 22-year-old is averaging a robust 3.7 blocks per 36 minutes, and from a team perspective, the Jazz are nearly eight points (per 100 poss.) better when he’s on the court. The casual fan likely hasn’t seen a lot of Gobert in Utah, but it is time to start paying attention.
- Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder – Ibaka leads the NBA in total blocks (second behind Anthony Davis in blocks per game), and Oklahoma City desperately needs his rim protection. The Thunder have made a conscious decision to better their offense by adding Enes Kanter, but that forces Ibaka to take things to another level defensively to make up for his cohort’s ineffectiveness. Thus far, Ibaka has been up to the challenge, and if not for Oklahoma City’s overall downturn this season, he would be in the mix for the top spot.
Next: Rookie of the Year