NBA: Runners for the Defensive Player of the Year Award

Published 02/22/2020, 10:51 AM EST

While not as prestigious as the MVP award, the Defensive Player of the Year award has never been more esteemed.

Offence wins games, but defence wins championships. It’s always been like that, and that’s not a trend that’s likely to change any time soon. That’s why it’s so important to have good defenders on your team. Players that you can trust to get a stop every night regardless of the player they’re defending. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of those players in the league right now.

Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz is the current two-time defending champion. The race for the 2020 DPOY award is among the most competitive in recent memory.


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Defensive Player of the Year Contenders


1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Following on from his MVP winning season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has earned a huge amount of praise for his improved offensive performances. Although his excellent work on the defensive end has been somewhat ignored

Giannis Antetokounmpo just keeps improving year after year, and that’s scary. He’s barely scratching the surface on his potential, and he’s quickly becoming one of the most versatile defenders in the league thanks to his length.

The reigning MVP is now a dominant two-way player. He’s 3rd in defensive rebound percentage (33.2%), 1st in defensive rating (96.4), 1st in defensive win shares (4.0), and 1th in defensive plus-minus (5.1).


2. Rudy Gobert

There is no questioning the Frenchman’s impact on the defensive end. Rudy Gobert is the most disruptive presence in the paint nowadays. Gobert’s presence alters the entire flow of the game.

His defensive numbers are especially impressive as Utah’s defence has been shaky this season following two years of being among the most feared defensive units in the NBA.
The Frenchman is currently 8th in defensive rating (102.3), 2nd in defensive win shares (3.6), 6th in defensive plus-minus (3.9), and 5th in blocks per game (1.9), a number that’s going up once the season keeps its course.

3.Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis has thrived in both ends of the floor during his first season with the Lakers. It’s no wonder Frank Vogel and LeBron James have started a campaign to make him the DPOY for the first time on his career.

Davis’ blocking ability has been especially impressive, as he has executed several huge stops at vital points for the Lakers. His presence has been the main factor in transforming LA’s defence into one of the best in the league

He’s taking things to a whole new level this season. So far, he’s 8th in defensive plus-minus (3.7), 5th in defensive win shares (3.4), 4th in defensive rating (101.1), 4th in block percentage (6.2%), and 3rd in blocks per game (2.5).


4.Joel Embiid


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Ever since making his debut, Joel Embiid has sat near the top of the standings when it comes to defence. He’s a nightmare in the post and below the rim, and can even guard to the perimeter.
The Philadelphia 76ers big man has taken a slight step back compared to last season, but he’s still 17th in blocks per game (1.4), 5th in defensive rebound percentage (32.9%), 6th in defensive rating (102.1

5.Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is a perennial MVP candidate as much as he is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. However, he’s sat during back-to-backs and the Clippers are still thriving without him, so his impact isn’t as big as always.


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Still, he’s got the 12th best defensive rating in the league (103.5), is 8th in steal percentage (2.6%), and 5th in steals per game (1.8).

Statistics Source: Basketball Reference



Divyanshu Jain

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