The NBA has bestowed the NBA Defensive Player of the Year to the league’s best regular season defensive player since the 1982-83 season. Sidney Moncrief won the inaugural award. Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics took home the award in 2022. Smart was the third different player to win in the past three seasons. The NBA has not had a back-to-back winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award since Rudy Gobert won while playing for the Utah Jazz in 2018 and 2019. Gobert also won in 2021. Smart had not won the award before and he did not garner any votes in 2021. He was tied for sixth in 2020.
If Smart can win in 2023, he will be the 11th NBA player to claim Defensive Player of the Year honors in multiple seasons. The opening odds do not give the Boston Celtics’ player much of a chance at a repeat as five players have better odds than Smart, Gobert, Robert Williams III, Bam Adebayo and previous winners Draymond Green and Giannis Antetokounmpo are all favored over Smart.
2023 NBA Defensive Player of the Year odds
|To Win 2023 NBA Defensive Player of the Year|
|Robert Williams III||+750||+650|
|Jaren Jackson Jr.||+1200||+2000|
Rudy Gobert is heading into his tenth NBA season. He’s won the NBA’s Best Defensive Player award on three occasions — 2018, 2019 and 2021. With that, it’s no surprise to see the Utah Jazz, who turned 30 in June, at the top of the list of potential winners for the 2023 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Gobert finished in third place in the 2022 voting with 136 points. Gobert, who played in 66 games for the Jazz, finished 2022 as the NBA leader in rebounds per game (14.7). He also ranked fifth in the league in blocks per game with 2.1.
Robert Williams III
Marcus Smart might be the defending NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but he’s not the favorite to win that award on his own team. Smart’s Boston Celtics teammate, Robert Williams III has better odds going into the 2022-23 NBA season than Smart.
Williams averaged 10 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.2 blocks per game in 61 games played in the 2022 regular season. Williams is heading into his fifth season in the league and he has been making steady progress in his overall play year over year. Boston’s coaching staff has rewarded Williams by increasing his playing time each year. He jumped from 18.9 minutes per game in 2021 to 29.6 minutes in 2022. Look for Williams to take on an expanded role with the Celtics in the 2023 season.
Draymond Green was the favorite to win the 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award until a back injury knocked him out of the Golden State Warriors lineup. Green played three games in January and didn’t return to action until March 14. The 32-year-old finished the season with just 46 games played.
Green played in 22 games during the Warriors NBA Championship run, but his numbers were some of the lowest of his playoff career.
If the 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year hopes to win in 2023, he needs to have a fast start to the season. If he stumbles in the early going, Green’s odds to win will quickly get worse.
Assuming every player in the mix stays healthy for the entire season, and that’s a big assumption seeing how last year played out, I’m going to go with Williams here. He was in position to win his first Defensive Player of the Year award before a knee injury cost him the late portion of the 2022 NBA season.
Pick: Robert Williams III to win the 2022-23 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
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