While the MVP award is the most prestigious (individual) award, there are others that are just as important.
The Defensive Player of the Year award isn’t the most popular award of the league, but it takes a special player to win it.
The Defensive Player of the Year award is given to a player that can lock down opposing players. They’re the defensive anchor of a team, and great defense leads to easy offense.
Former Milwaukee Buck Sidney Moncrief won the first-ever DPOY award in 1983, and since then, some of the game’s elite defenders have followed in his footsteps. And this season, another player will add their name to the list.
Here are three players that could win Defensive Player of the Year.
1.) Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert is not only the reigning Defensive Player of the Year; he’s a three-time DPOY.
Gobert had a solid season last year, and somehow, he was more effective on the defensive end. He averaged a career-high 2.7 blocks and averaged 10.1 defensive rebounds. The only player to average more blocks last season was Pacers center Myles Turner (who averaged 3.4 blocks per game).
Gobert had tough competition last year as Ben Simmons and Draymond Green were the other finalists for DPOY. But if Gobert has another great year, he can put himself in elite company, as only Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo are the only players to win four DPOY awards. So, it will be interesting to see how he does this season.
2.) Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is in an interesting position. He’s an exceptional defender that can impact a game at any moment. But will he play?
Last season, Simmons averaged 1.6 steals per game. While this is a decrease from his career-best 2.1 steals in 2019-20, it’s still impactful.
Simmons has been the talk of the offseason, as reports have stated he wants out of Philly. In fact, he was willing to sit out the season before suiting up for the Sixers. But things have changed. Simmons reported to the Wells Fargo Center before tip-off of the Nets/Sixers game and took a COVID test. So, while there’s no guarantee he’ll stay with the Sixers for the long term, he’ll at least return to improve his trade value.
Regardless of where Simmons ends up, he’s going to be effective on the defensive end.
3.) Jrue Holiday
While there are other defenders capable of winning DPOY, Jrue Holiday is a sleeper. He’s an exceptional defender, and he showed his ability both during the NBA Finals and the 2020 Olympics.
Holiday took on the challenge of guarding players like Chris Paul and Devin Booker during the Finals. And he did well. He guarded Evan Fournier of France during the Olympics, who gave the U.S trouble during an exhibition game.
Holiday may be a 6-foot-3 guard, but with his tenacity, he can guard nearly any position. With that said, keep an eye on Holiday as a dark horse candidate.
The DPOY race could be an exciting one, and as the season progresses, it will get even better.
Gobert blocks Hart Courtesy of Jeffrey Swinger USA Today Sports