MTS has been busy predicting the NBA’s end-of-season awards of late – already handicapping the race for MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Sixth Man. Today, we set the stage for Defensive Player of the Year.
There was a 10 year period between the 2001-2002 season and the 2010-2011 campaign that Ben Wallace and Dwight Howard combined to win seven NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards. Only Ron Artest, Marcus Camby, and Kevin Garnett crashed the party during that decade.
The past three seasons, however, have seen three first time winners (Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, and Tyson Chandler), and this year promises to again crown a new Defensive Player of the Year.
At this late point in the season, the race is still wide open and no clear favorite has emerged. There have been a few standouts, of course, and we take a look at the top contenders, below.
As you’ll see shortly, this year’s race is a battle between traditional stats and new analytics, with lifetime achievement also playing a factor.
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors): 5/1
The top defensive player in the league this season has been Draymond Green, at least based on the number of points allowed per 100 possessions. Golden State drafted Green as a “tweener” and he’s proven capable of defending both bigger and smaller players. The Warriors frequently put him on whomever they need to stop, whether that is a post player or a guy on the perimeter. He leads Golden State in rebounds, and is second in steals. Green is 5/1 to win the award.
Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs): 11/2
Tim Duncan might be 38 years old, but don’t tell the players he’s guarding. San Antonio’s future Hall of Famer is averaging 9.6 rebounds per game and advanced stats rate him as the third most effective defender in the NBA this year. He is eighth in the league in blocks, and the Spurs are second-best among Western Conference playoff teams in points allowed per contest.
On top of that, Duncan could be the voters darling due to the fact that he’s never won the award before, despite being named to the NBA All-Defensive Team a record 14 times. Duncan is 11/2 to win the prize.
DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers): 11/2
The Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan would be a runaway winner of this award if only traditional stats were used. He leads the NBA in boards by over one rebound per game, and is fourth in the league in blocked shots. He is also number one in total rebound percentage. Los Angeles is a virtual lock to make the playoffs, and as a rim defender, Jordan cleans up a lot of missteps his teammates create.
Lastly, while Chris Paul gets (and deserves) much of the credit for keeping the Clippers on track without Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford, Jordan has also been integral to the team’s continued success in the wake of the injuries. Like Duncan, he is 11/2 to take the honor.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans): 15/1
Finally, it seems like the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis is going to finish among the top five or ten in a plethora of statistical categories, but fail to earn any hardware. New Orleans is on the playoff bubble in large part because of Davis’s impact. He leads the NBA in blocks per game and is top-ten in rebounds.
Davis has improved every year in his career and New Orleans record has gone up because of his growth. But he has also missed 12 games already this year, and his time on the shelf hurts his chances at all the individual awards. He is 15-1 to win Defensive Player of the Year.
Full 2014-15 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards Odds:
- Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors): 5/1
- Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs): 11/2
- DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers): 11/2
- Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans): 15/1
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Tim Duncan) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)