Going into the season, Kawhi Leonard was the odds-on favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year again, but he’s only played in nine games (so far). Draymond Green was in the mix, and he’s had a good but not great defensive season. Al Horford anchors the best defense in the NBA this season for Boston, but that is more a team effort than Horford dominating on that end.
The race for Defensive Player of the Year is wide open, which is what I get into in this latest PBT Extra video. Joel Embiid has been the favorite most of the season, but the flat-out best defender this season has been Rudy Gobert — when he is on the court the Jazz allow just 97.2 points per 100 possessions. Problem is he missed considerable time with a pair of knee injuries.
So who is the Defensive Player of the Year leading into the final month of the NBA season? I asked you readers on Twitter, and the answer was Gobert with Rudy Gobert at 61 percent, followed by Joel Embiid with 21 percent and Green back with 10 percent.
Gobert has only played in 43 games, the max he can get up to is 56 — did he impact enough defensive possessions to win this award? In 2015 Leonard won his first playing 64 games. Embiid will play in about the mid to high 60s in games (he could play in 71 if he plays in every remaining game, but the Sixers will get him some rest before the postseason) and when he is on the court the Sixers allow a point per possession (100.4 per 100).
Will the voters look at all that and decide to go with Horford or Green? Who knows. It’s wide open.