Defensive Player Of the Year candidates

Everytime we talk about NBA basketball we instantly think of flashy things such as a step-back three, all kinds of crossovers, crazy dunks or alley-oops and we always give credit to the offense, but most commonly, we forget to take into consideration the other aspect of the gam that happens at the other end, which is DEFENSE; a thing that is often forgotten in a league that craves for highlight plays. Coaches always tell you that offense is winning you games, but defense is what you need in order to bring home a championship, and this is a very true thing to rely on in the bigger picture. A lot of players are playing hard while attacking, but not so much of them are willing to sacrifice their body while protecting their basket, and the one’s that do so are some of the most important assets that you can have on a team. Here are a few of the players that are performing well in this part of the game.

Anthony Davis, who is playing in his 7th season, is having another very good year individually, both offensively and defensively. Davis is currently 2nd overall on the block list, being only .2 away from the first place, with 2,6 blocks-per-game and tied with other 4 players for the 10th position in steals, with 1,7 per-game on only 2,6 personal-fouls. That is a pretty good feature to accomplish, taking into consideration the fact that the players who are in the top-10 in steals-per-game are all guards. As if this wasn’t enough to build on his case, on the rebound category, he is tied with Joel Embiid at the 4th place, with 13,3 per-game. His huge wingspan and his athleticism at that length are the principal factors for his ability to steal the ball or block it in the paint, whether if it’s on a center or on a driving-to-the-basket guard, and this is what makes him a strong candidate for the award.

Paul George is having the best season of his career so far this season, and not only offensively. He locks out many of his opponents while he’s playing very intense in defense, being the 1st in the league in steals, tied with his teammate, Russell Westbrook, with 2,3 steals-per-game; a career-high as well for him, to go along with 8 RPG, another career-high number. He is holding his opponents to shoot only 41,9% while they are defended by him, with 5,1 DFGM and 12,1 DFGA and that’s a total of -3,8 DIFF% overall. We can observe from those statistics that he is maybe the best defender at the moment, adding that he is most commonly guarding very tough opponents given his position on the floor. If he continues to defend at this intense level, he could be the winner of the DPOY at the end of the year.

A player that has developed his capacity and will to defend, is Rudy Gobert, who was upset that he didn’t won it when he should have, in his vision, last year and he thought he was robbed. This year, he continues to play hard defense and his numbers there are good, with slight improvements. He is on the 4th position in blocks-per-game, with 2,2, while he steals the ball 1 time per-game and rebounds the ball 12,9 times per-game (6th in the league). Gobert is like a tower in the paint and he is a threat for every opponent coming at him, because he is huge, measuring 216 cm in height. This is what makes him a very good shot-blocker. His DIFF& is at -1,4 for now overall, and -7,1% when the opponent is less than 6 ft from the rim.

Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers is another good defender, with an imposing stature, being listed at 213cm and 113kg. Currently in his 3rd year with the 76ers, Embiid is one of the main reasons for his team’s process, both offensively and defensively. Even if he has 27,2 PPG, which means he is the main go-to guy when they attack, he also has 13,3 rebounds-per-game and 1,9 blocks-per-game, being in the top-10 of all those categories mentioned above. If we take a look at the defense dashboard tracking, we can see that he keeps his opponents at -8,3 DIFF% while being less than 6 ft from the basket, and that is pretty interesting, as he is guarding bigs in the paint and doing the hard work banging bodies with them left and right.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is present everywhere this season, whether it’s the MVP conversation or the Defensive Player Of the Year, the Greek Freak can do it all this year for his team, and we can only enjoy watching him play. His athleticism at that length, with a huge wingspan and his ambition to help his teammates in defense is what qualifies him for this conversation, standing at 211cm and 109kg. The special thing about all this is that he can play Small Forward, Point Guard, Shooting Guard and Power Forward, literally almost every position, and he can defend them too. Giannis has career-high numbers in rebounds-per-game, with 12,6, 1,4 steals-per-game and 1,4 blocks-per-game on 3,4 personal fouls. He is holding his opponents to a -5,5 overall DIFF%, while he is guarding the perimeter well, having a DIFF% of -7,2 from less than 10 Ft, and that is very good, if you take in consideration the fact that he can switch on everyone.

Andrei Dilean,

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