We have arrived at the quarter-point of the 2020-21 NBA season, and the race to crown the NBA Defensive Player of the Year appears to be a three-man competition between Anthony Davis, Myles Turner, and two-time winner Rudy Gobert.
It should be no surprise that a trio of tall people rattles out the top-three candidates for the award, as the Defensive Player of the Year Award has gone to a forward or center for the last 25 seasons with Gary Payton being the last guard to win the award back in 1996 when Seattle still had a team (pour one out for the Sonics).
To catch you up after about 20 games into the season, here’s a look at how the top three candidates to win the 2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award shake out.
Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz (+300 to Win NBA DPOTY)
After winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2018 and 2019, Gobert finished third in voting a season ago despite another phenomenal performance on the defensive end of the floor during the 2020 season.
It should surprise nobody then that Gobert is once again having another elite defensive season, as the French 7-footer is second in the league in blocks per game with just under 3 blocks per night.
Gobert has been an instrumental part (no pun intended) to the Jazz’ hot 16-5 start to the season, but a recent performance against 2021 NBA MVP candidate Nikola Jokic sent Gobert tumbling down the odds board back to +300 after he was the odds-on favorite to win his third such award in four seasons.
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) January 30, 2021
Despite Jokic getting the best of Gobert, his candidacy to win another NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award should not be overlooked, as the Jazz are among the league surprises through the first quarter of the season and currently boast the best record in the NBA, in large part because of their play on the defensive end of the floor.
Gobert’s defensive rating of 101.5 is downright stellar and is good for fifth-best in the NBA. If Utah can continue their winning ways and Gobert avoids another outing where someone puts 33-points on him in a half like Jokic did, he could very well end up atop the odds board sooner than later.
Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers (+260 to Win NBA DPOTY)
There aren’t a lot of casual NBA fans out there that monitor Indiana Pacers basketball as diligently as they may pay attention to your Lakers and Celtics of the world, but Myles Turner’s play is something that should probably get a lot more attention than it has received thus far.
The 24-year-old 6-11 big man has been flying under the radar all season, but has quietly put together one of the most dominant defensive starts to the season that anyone could ask for out of a center in the free-shooting era of the NBA we currently reside in.
Pacers' opponents eFG% drops 4.4 points when Myles Turner is on the floor. Their FG% at the rim drops 12.2 points when Turner is on the floor.
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) February 4, 2021
Turner leads the NBA in blocked shots with just under four blocks per game – a full block better than Gobert and Anthony Davis – and has posted two games with eight blocks and another six games with at least five blocks.
Those are essentially video game numbers that make you question your slider settings, only Turner is doing this on a nightly basis.
— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) January 30, 2021
In our opinion, if Turner played in Los Angeles or any market bigger than Indiana, he’s probably your odds-on favorite to win this award and possibly a heavy favorite at that. If there’s a knock with Turner’s candidacy it would likely come with his rebounding numbers that pale in comparison to that of Gobert and Davis.
But with that said, you’d be hard-pressed to find another player in the league doing more on the defensive end of the floor through the first 20 games this season than Myles Turner.
Anthony Davis, F/C, Los Angeles Lakers (+190 to Win NBA DPOTY)
The Lakers’ big man has been in contention to land a Defensive Player of the Year Award trophy in each of the past four seasons, but the fifth time could be the charm for the superstar forward.
Davis struggled a bit out of the gates for the Lakers, probably in large part due to the quick turnaround between the time of the Lakers winning the NBA Finals and the 2020-21 season beginning, but The Brow is starting to look more like himself of late, recording two or more blocks in six of the Lakers’ last eight games.
As is the case with most awards, name recognition goes a long way towards winning individual honors, and the campaign to get Davis his first-ever NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award could reach a fever pitch as we get closer to the playoffs. Even more so if the Lakers continue to have one of the best records in basketball.
While one could argue that Gobert and Turner have done more on defense at this point in the season, Davis is going to be in this conversation until the end and is currently your short-favorite to win the award.
Odds to Win NBA Defensive POTY (as of 2/4/21)
|Anthony Davis (LAL)||+190|
|Myles Turner (IND)||+260|
|Rudy Gobert (UTA)||+300|
|Ben Simmons (PHI)||+950|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)||+950|
|Joel Embiid (PHI)||+1000|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||+3300|
|Kawhi Leonard (LAC)||+3300|
|Clint Capela (ATL)||+5500|
|Draymond Green (GS)||+5500|
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