Utah’s Rudy Gobert wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year

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When Rudy Gobert went down with his second knee injury of the season — both times because someone else went crashing into his legs — it was thought his chance to win Defensive Player of the Year was lost. Would he play in enough games to be considered?

But with Kawhi Leonard out most of the season, and Andre Roberson playing only 39 games, and Draymond Green not playing at his peak (before the playoffs) the award became more of a race between Gobert and Joel Embiid, two of the best shot-blocking big men in the game. Between them, the number of games played was similar, so it became about the defense itself.

Monday night in Los Angeles, the award was presented to the brightly-dressed Gobert.

It was more than his 2.3 blocks per game that won him the award, when Gobert was on the court this season the Jazz allowed just 97.7 points per 100 possessions (7.3 points better than when he was on the bench). Gobert lifted up his team on defense.

Gobert had 89 first place votes of the 101 cast by select media members, and he won the award by a wade margin. After that the order of finish (with first place votes) is Joel Embiid (2), Anthony Davis (5), Paul George (2), Anthony Davis (1), Draymond Green (1), and Jrue Holiday (1).