Last week, the NBA announced the finalists for its annual individual awards which will be handed out at the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on June 24, 2019, at Barker Hangar in Los Angeles, California. This is the third time the NBA will be giving out the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year and Defensive Player of the year in a formal show.
The NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award is given to the best defensive player in the league during a particular regular season. The NBA began giving the award since the 1982-83 NBA season and since then a total of 21 players have been the recipient of the award.
The award has been traditionally given to centers and big men who grab rebounds and block shots. Only seven winners were not centers or power forwards. These winners were Sidney Moncrief, Alvin Robertson, Michael Cooper, Michael Jordan, Gary Payton, Ron Artest, and Kawhi Leonard. Payton is the only point guard to have won the award and he did so because of his exemplary on-ball defense which earned him the nickname “The Glove”.
Jordan, Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Kevin Garnett are the only DPOY winners who also won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. Only Jordan and Olajuwon were able to win both awards in the same season. Four DPOY winners were not named to the NBA Defensive First team: Robertson, Mutombo, Tyson Chandler and Marc Gasol.
Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace each won the award a record four times while Dwight Howard is the only player in history to have won the DPOY award in three consecutive seasons. Moncrief, Mark Eaton, Dennis Rodman, Hakeem, Olajuwon, Alonzo Mourning, and Kawhi Leonard have won the award twice. Last year, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz won the 2018 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. This year, Gobert is once again among the finalists and at the same time the NBA betting favorite to be named as the league’s best defender.
Here are the odds by Betonline for the three finalists for the 2019 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award:
- Rudy Gobert -400
- Giannis Antetokounmpo +300
- Paul George +900
Giannis Antetokounmpo-Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo is aiming to become only the third player in NBA history ( along with Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon) to win both the MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year award during the same season. Antetokounmpo isn’t just a finalist for 2019 MVP honors, he is the favorite because he led the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA this season. The Greek Freak averaged career-highs in points, rebounds, and assists this season. Antetokounmpo’s 2018-19 numbers are 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Not only was he 3rd in the league in scoring, but Giannis was also 6th in rebounds and 10th in blocked shots.
Paul George-Oklahoma City Thunder
Paul George has gone a long way after suffering a serious leg injury in 2014. Not only has he come back and regained his old explosive self, but George has also developed into one of the league’s best two-way players. Always known for his explosive offense, George led the NBA in steals during the 2018-19 NBA season with 2.2 steals per game. Aside from that, PG13 also averaged an impressive 8.2 rebounds per game while also scoring 28.0 points per game and handing-off 4.1 dimes per contest. George was named as the Western Conference Player of the Month for February 2019 and was OKC’s main offensive weapon this season. George is a six-time All-Star and a member of the NBA’s Defensive First Team in 2014 and the Defensive Second Team in 2013 and 2016.
Rudy Gobert- Utah Jazz
Utah’s Stifle Tower bounced back from a 2018 season where he missed 27 games to play in all but one of the Jazz’s regular-season games this season. Not only did Gobert return to play in that number of games, but he also did so while posting career-highs in points and rebounds at 15.9 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game. Although he wasn’t as dominant as he was last season, Gobert ranked 4th in rebounds and 3rd in blocked shots. He is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year winner and a member of the All-Defensive First team in 2017 and 2018. The 7-1 Gobert is one of the league’s most intimidating forces in the shaded lane not just because of his size but because of his length. During the 2013 Draft Combine, he set records with his 7 feet and 8 ½ inches wingspan and his 9 feet and 7 inches standing reach.
Who Wins The Award?
.As we said earlier, Rudy Gobert is the leading candidate to win this award. Not only is he the reigning Defensive Player of the Year winner, but he is also the only one among the three finalists who specializes in defense. I acknowledge how Paul George has improved his on-ball and anticipation defense to become this year’s steals leader. I also admire Giannis Antetokounmpo for helping his team in all statistical departments. But Giannis’ effect in Milwaukee is because of his overall brilliance, which includes his ability to rebound, block shots and steal the ball. Overall, he has more versatile stats among the three finalists.
But Gobert’s defensive presence is what has helped the Jazz achieve success in the past two seasons. Sure, Donovan Mitchell is an explosive offensive weapon but without Gobert protecting the other end of the basketball court, the Jazz wouldn’t have played good music in the past two seasons. The Stifle Tower is the defensive anchor in Utah and his value on defense is beyond measure. That’s why I think that Rudy Gobert wins Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight season. But yeah, don’t count out the Greek Freak because everything has gone his way so far this season.