We almost became numb to how good a defender Rudy Gobert was in Utah, how he constantly cleaned up the messes of a team without quality defenders on the perimeter.
Now he’s about to be showcased in a new light in Minnesota, which is why he is the early betting favorite to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Again. It would be his fourth.
NBC’s partner at Points Bet has its early odds out for the 2023 DPOY award and there are a lot of familiar names at the top of the list with Gobert. Here are the top 10:
Rudy Gobert +500
Robert Williams III +650
Bam Adebayo +800
Giannis Antetokounmpo +800
Draymond Green +800
Anthony Davis +1000
Mikal Bridges +1200
Myles Turner +1600
Joel Embed +2500
Jarrett Allen +2500
A few thoughts on that list:
• Gobert deserves to be No. 1. There will be no taking his defense for granted this season.
• Notice reigning DPOY Marcus Smart is not in the top 10, he is +3000. While I think it’s unlikely that he will win the award back-to-back, he’s still a quarterback and a key part of a Celtics’ defense that will be near the top of the league. Those odds seem long.
• If Robert Williams III can stay healthy, he might be the Celtic to win the award this year.
• My early pick: Bam Adebayo. With P.J. Tucker now in Philly, more will be asked of Adebayo and this may be his year to step out and win the award.
• If Anthony Davis is playing well enough to be in the mix to win this award, the Lakers will be better than projected.
• Those are some long odds for Joel Embiid, one of the league’s best rim protectors and defensive big men. He’s got more help in Philly this season, but this is the man in the MVP mix who could win this award if the 76ers’ defense is better than expected.
• Myles Turner could also be a good value bet, depending on if and where he gets traded. He led the league in blocked shots per game last season and is a quality paint protector, if he ends up on a team that desperately needs those skills, he could be showcased and in the mix for the award.