The NBA delaying revealing its regular-season awards until after the playoffs comes with one major upside – a TV special that can be monetized.
But it also sucks the enthusiasm out of the honors. After the drama of a lengthy and high-stakes postseason, who cares about the best performances in a relative mundane regular season?
That can perhaps be felt most strongly in Defensive Player of the Year. Nobody produced an elite defensive season that a national audience will be excited to celebrate months later, and all three finalists have already been eliminated from the playoffs:
And with that, three prime candidates didn’t become (or deserve to be) finalists.
I’d pick Gobert, but even he missed 26 games. Nobody sustained elite defense for a large portion of the regular season. How many people will care June 25 who voters deemed came closest?