Jazz center Rudy Gobert is a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year.
But Celtics guard Marcus Smart is favored to win the award. Suns wing Mikal Bridges also has higher odds than Gobert.
Gobert, via ESPN:
If anybody else not named Rudy Gobert was doing what I do this year and having the impact that I’m having this year, they would be the frontrunner and it would be clear. So, why not? Why not? If I’m being consistent, why should I penalized for being consistent year after year?
Gobert is right. He suffers from the worst case of voter fatigue I’ve seen.
He has won Defensive Player of the Year three of the last four seasons while playing a no-nonsense style that’s not traditionally captivating. Not only are people tired of Gobert individually, they’re sick of bigs generally winning this award. Plus, there’s a reluctance to reward Gobert again after Utah has repeatedly faltered defensively in the playoffs
But Gobert has been excellent again defensively this season. Even if not quite as sharp as previous years, he should be competing against 2021-22 Marcus Smart and 2021-22 Mike Bridges – not 2017-18, 2018-19 or 2020-21 Gobert.
Bigs do tend to make a larger defensive impact. The area around the rim is the most important to protect, and it helps to be tall. Though there can be a tradeoff between size and mobility, Gobert moves his feet plenty well enough to get the job done.
Granted Gobert’s defense isn’t quite as effective in the playoffs as the regular season. But the problem has been overblown. The Jazz’s biggest postseason defensive issues occur more so around Gobert than because of Gobert. This is a regular-season award, anyway.
Many voters were looking for a viable alternative to the stale established candidate. Inconveniently, the NBA’s best defensive season belonged to a player named Rudy Gobert.