When he emerged as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in 2015, Rudy Gobert said, “To be honest and to be realistic, I think they’re going to put somebody who’s more exposed to TV.”
So, Gobert improved even further, became an All-Star and lifted the Jazz with him.
Today – between Utah’s nationally televised win over the Clippers yesterday and Game 2 of the second-round series tomorrow – Gobert was named Defensive Player of the Year. A well-deserved honor, this is Gobert’s third Defensive Player of the Year.
Full voting with first-, second- and third-place votes and total voting points:
1. Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz): 84-14-2-464
2. Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers): 15-67-11-287
3. Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors): 0-13-37-76
4. Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat): 1-3-17-31
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks): 0-0-12-12
6. Clint Capela (Atlanta Hawks): 0-1-7-10
7. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers): 0-2-1-7
8. Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks): 0-0-6-6
9. Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers): 0-0-3-3
10. Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat): 0-0-2-2
11. Matisse Thybulle (Philadelphia 76ers): 0-0-1-1
12. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Los Angeles Lakers): 0-0-1-1
Gobert is now just the third player to win three Defensive Player of the Years:
- Dikembe Mutombo 4
- Ben Wallace 4
- Dwight Howard 3
- Rudy Gobert 3
Gobert is a dependably elite regular-season defender. He is a great rim protector, and the Jazz take advantage by funneling opponents toward him. He excels as a defensive rebounder. And he has improved defending in space.
Gobert’s playoff defense – still good – is more questionable. He wasn’t as impactful against the Grizzlies in the first round, but he held up well in Game 1 against the Clippers and had the game-winning block of a Marcus Morris 3-pointer:
This is a regular-season award, and Gobert earned it. By a wide margin.
Ben Simmons campaigned hard for this honor, and Doc Rivers repeatedly endorsed him. That probably helped Simmons finish so high in voting (second place with 15 first-place votes). He didn’t crack my top three, as it’s so difficult for non-bigs to make that large of an impact in the regular season.
Which is yet another reason Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s third-place vote is so curious.