The way too early NBA Award Predictions are here and coming out. The Defensive Player of the Year Award has been given out through relatively the same players in voting in recent years. The award, like any other award, is heavily narrative-based too. Last year, Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award ahead of Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert. Check out who could see the award this year below.
While rarely do players repeat awards, Giannis Antetokounmpo could win the award a second time. If he played the same way on defense as he did last season with the Milwaukee Bucks, he will surely be in the conversation. Last season, Giannis recorded five defensive win shares (1st in the NBA), a 4.1 defensive box plus/minus (1st), and the second-best defensive rebound percentage (34.8%). His stats truly helped him lock up the defensive player of the year award and MVP award. Giannis became the third player in history to win both awards in the same season and the fifth player ever to win both awards in their career.
Anthony Davis’s narrative certainly boosts his story to win the defensive player of the year award this season. He is the most talked-about player defensively after being the best defender on the most recent Los Angeles Lakers NBA championship team. He recorded 1.2 Defensive Win Shares and a 2.1 Defensive Box Plus/Minus in the playoffs. Davis won a 40% share of the voting in the DPOY award last season with the Lakers. This year he has the second most defensive win shares through eight games and the tenth best DBPM.
Rudy Gobert has been a perennial contender for the defensive player of the year award in modern NBA. He has won the DPOY twice and been on four All-Defensive teams in his career with the Utah Jazz. He has been in the top ten for DPOY voting in the past six seasons. Last year, he had another great statistical defensive season with 4.2 defensive win shares (3rd), 1.9 defensive box plus/minus (12th), and a 4.8% block percentage. Now, he has 0.4 defensive win shares, along with the third-highest block percentage (6.5%), and the second-highest defensive rebounding percentage (38.3%).
Ben Simmons’s best asset has always been his defensive play, if not his passing and rebounding ability as a large-set guard. Last year, he had 2.3 defensive win shares and a 2.8 defensive box plus/minus, along with the third most steals of any player with the Philadelphia Sixers. This season, he is averaging 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per game in the early portion of the year. He also has the fifth-most defensive win shares and the fifth-highest defensive box plus/minus. Gary Payton is the only point guard in NBA history to win the DPOY, but Simmons could give himself a shot to be the defensive player of the year. Last season, he placed fourth in the voting for the award.
The narrative for Bam Adebayo plays well in terms of his chances for the Defensive Player of the Year. Last season with the Miami Heat, his specialty was interior defense on a team that won the Eastern Conference title and made a trip to the NBA Finals. Even before then, he was fifth in voting for the defensive player of the year award. Last year he had 3.9 defensive win shares (5th), and a 2.0 defensive box plus/minus (10th). Now, Bam has the best DBPM in the NBA with a 3.0 point value. He has also averaged 1.0 block and 1.1 steals per game. Bam could certainly be in the running for the award with more defensive stat-padding this season.