NBA Awards Rankings: Rudy Gobert re-stakes claim on Defensive Player of the Year race

The 2023 NBA Defensive Player of the Year race is shaping up to involve an unusual bunch of players.

Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves
Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves / Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
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Bam Adebayo. Center. Bam Adebayo. player. 2. . 2. 110. . Heat

The Miami Heat have won seven straight and Bam Adebayo has been their best player by a healthy margin — on both ends, frankly. The defense is always special with Bam, and it's past time for him to receive more than passing consideration for this award. We're only 11 games into the season, but what he's doing right now is sustainable all the way through the postseason.

Adebayo remains the NBA's best switching center. The idea of a "1-through-5" defender gets tossed around with every draft class and every new batch of "modern" bigs, but few players can actually defend all five positions to the extent Adebayo can. He will bottle up small, twitchy guards at the point of attack, stonewall wings driving to the rim, or he can protect the basket and battle traditional fives.

He's averaging 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Adebayo is completing wrecking pick-and-rolls with his activity level and recovery speed. He can sit back in the paint and play traditional drop coverage. He's always smart with his gambles, taking well-calculated pokes at the ball or slyly phasing into passing lanes for the steal.

He really does it all, plus he's doing more than ever on offense. We will see if Adebayo's mountainous burden eventually catches up to him, but right now, the Heat are back to looking like contenders and Adebayo is the ideal blueprint for a defensive anchor in today's NBA.