SPG Stock – The case for each finalist
Right before the start of the playoffs, the league announced the top 3 finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year award, perhaps the second-most coveted award in the N(BA) behind the MVP. Needless to say, only the creme of the crop reached the top 3.
Standing over the rest of the pack when it comes to scoring is tough in the N(BA). Nonetheless, it’s even harder in terms of defensive impact, and that’s mostly because it doesn’t show in the stat-sheet.
That’s why today, we’re going to break down the case for Draymond Green, Ben Simmons, and Rudy Gobert; the top-3 leading candidates to take home the Defensive Player of the Year award this season.
3. Draymond Green
Draymond Green already knows what it’s like to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. He’s one of the most versatile defenders in the league, and even though he often gives up size vs. other bigs, he makes up for it with his craftiness and quick hands to strip the ball.
Green has the highest defensive IQ among all the candidates. He breaks down opposing sets in real-time and makes adjustments in the blink of an eye. Then again, he’s unlikely to win the award this season given how the Golden State Warriors performed.
2. Ben Simmons
If we talk about versatility, then we must talk about Ben Simmons. He’s one of the few players in the league that can efficiently guard one through five, and not just because of his size, length, and athleticism but because of his instincts and lateral quickness.
Simmons can hold his own in the paint and the low post vs. most bigs in the league. He’s long, and a huge threat in passing lanes, and the Philadelphia 76ers boasted the second-best defense in the league mostly thanks to his presence. He can lock you up on the backcourt and hunt you all the way to the baseline as well.
1. Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert is the biggest favorite to win the award, which would give him his third yet. He’s not the most mobile defender and struggles to get stops in the perimeter but he’s the best rim protector in the league and it’s not even close. His sole presence alters countless shots.
This year, the Utah Jazz standout led the Association in total rebounds (960), defensive rebounds (720), total blocks (190), Defensive Rating (100.6), and Defensive Win Shares (5.3) while finishing second in blocks per game (2.7). While he may not be the most versatile defender in this list, he was certainly the most impactful this season.