Ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season, our NBA.com Staff share their predictions for which player they think will be crowned Defensive Player of the Year.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I'm going with Anthony Davis.
Following a down season by his standards, I'm expecting big things from Davis this season. He needs to stay healthy, but the best version of him is arguably the best defender in the league, the rare big man who can protect the rim at a high level while still being agile enough to defend the perimeter.
He's going to have his work cut out for him after the Lakers lost many of their best defenders this offseason - namely, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso - but he'll likely get a lot of the credit if Los Angeles finishes with one of the league's better defensive ratings again.
Plus, Davis has made it clear in the past that winning Defensive Player of the Year is a goal of his. I'm optimistic that this could be the season he does it.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Although Rudy Gobert could very well win his fourth Defensive Player of the Year in five seasons and tie Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutumbo for the most all-time, I think Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo steals it from him this year.
The 24-year-old has proven to be one of the best and most versatile frontcourt defenders in the NBA, taking on a number of different assignments from interior players like Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo to forwards like Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum. His physical presence in the paint and agility to switch on the perimeter makes him one of the most unique centers in the NBA, and he'll play a key role in anchoring a Heat defence that should again be among the top 10 in the league.
Adebayo believed he should've been Defensive Player of the Year last season, yet he finished fourth, meaning he just missed out on being a finalist for the award.
With that chip on his shoulder, I believe he'll make it a goal of his to take home the hardware this season.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): Does it feel weird that Draymond Green only has one DPOY to his name? Because it does to me.
He's my pick for Defensive Player of the Year this season.
Aside from the fact that it feels weird that one of the greatest defensive minds of his generation only has one Defensive Player of the Year award, Green is going to be surrounded once again by capable defenders who will have another year under their belt in Steve Kerr's system. Add in the fact that at some point he'll have Klay Thompson in front of him and James Wiseman to help protect the rim, and it might free Green up to play even more free safety which he's great at.
The Warriors finished fifth in defensive efficiency last season which may surprise some people given the fact that they had so much youth on the team. But Green was the glue that kept them together on that end of the floor. He was recognized for his efforts with a third-place finish in DPOY voting.
With Rudy Gobert likely being a victim of voter fatigue and Ben Simmons dealing with his drama, Green could be the default voting favourite.
Green is going to be in the Hall of Fame one day. Two-time Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green will have a nice ring to it when he does.
Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): I would have liked the opportunity to pick Ben Simmons here but ... the timing doesn't feel right with that one.
Instead, I'm going with his current teammate Matisse Thybulle. Funnily enough, if the Sixers move on from Simmons it could mean an increase in court time for Thybulle, who creates utter chaos on the defensive end of the floor.
The 24-year-old was named to the All-Defensive Second Team last season despite averaging only 20.0 minutes per game and starting in only eight. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 2.9 steals and 2.0 blocks per game, which is absolutely absurd. Again, I'm banking on an increased role with this selection but if he's closer to 30 minutes per night in his third season it's hard for me to imagine he won't be in the running.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): I get the feeling that Anthony Davis will take home the award this year, too.
To Scott's point above, Davis will be tasked with cleaning up a lot on the defensive end for a Lakers team that doesn't exactly boast the youngest roster. Entering his 28-year-old season, Davis will be the anchor for mostly all of the lineups that Los Angeles rolls out, many of which will have some defensive limitations.
After last season's disappointment, I fully expect to see Davis on a mission to flex his defensive muscle in order to contribute to winning the ultimate prize. If he defends at that high of a level for an elite Lakers team, why wouldn't he take the DPOY award home?
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Voter fatigue may work against him, but this is Rudy Gobert's award to lose.
He's won it in three of the past four seasons and is showing no signs of slowing down, but more importantly, the Jazz will again be one of the best defensive teams in the league after having the third-best defence last season.
Few players in the league impact the game with their defence as much as Gobert, who not only blocks and alters shots but deters opponents from even entering the paint. If the Jazz finish with a top-five defence this season, it will largely be due to Gobert and the numbers will make it difficult to deny him a record-tying fourth award.
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