NBA Awards Rankings: Rudy Gobert still No. 1 in Defensive Player of the Year race

The 2023 NBA Defensive Player of the Year race is turning into a phenomenal contest.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Memphis Grizzlies
Minnesota Timberwolves v Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages
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The Defensive Player of the Year is now one of the more overlooked awards in the NBA. The league has become a lot more offensively oriented so the value of great defenders in the league is actually at an all-time high. But the award is more likely to have a random winner, as it's harder to measure defense and subjectivity is a bigger part of the equation.

Here is an updated ranking of the defensive player of the year race.

Honorable Mentions: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, Mitchell Robinson, Bam Adebayo, Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, Robert Covington, Jalen Suggs, Scottie Barnes, Dillion Brooks

Chet Holmgren. Center | Thunder. player. Defensive Player of the Year. . . Chet Holmgren. . 5. 149

The Oklahoma City Thunder have had an amazing season with a 13-6 record and currently hold the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Their recent success has a lot to do with the play of their rookie center, Chet Holmgren. He is currently the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year but his defensive play has been extraordinary. 

The thing that really pops out about Chet Holmgren is his offensive production averaging 17.6 points, eight rebounds, 2.6 assists on .531/.395/.865 shooting splits. To be shooting almost 40 percent from 3 at 7-foot-1 is incredible. But his height and mobility have also allowed Holmgren to be one of the best defensive players this season.

For starters the rookie is fifth in the NBA in blocks per game, averaging 2.2 per game, and is averaging 0.9 steals per game. His combined steals per game plus blocks per game is 3.1, which ranks sixth in the NBA. 

Even standing at 7-foot-1, Holmgren has a solid defensive presence which means he's able to step out and defend smaller guards. That is something the Thunder wouldn't prefer but something that the center can do. 

Also look at the fact that the Thunder went from the 14th best defensive team when Holmgren was hurt and now having the fifth best defensive team with him healthy has also proved that Holmgren is one of the league's best defenders.