Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz has won the last two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, but there are some past winners and new challengers to the crown.
In a season with as much roster churn as any in recent memory, the awards predictions can be difficult, but when looking at candidates for the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, the same truth holds for the honor as always.
Advanced metrics aid the process, but the fact remains that defensive prowess is not easily measured. The eye test is still important and if a player develops a reputation as a good defensive player, then that player is always a good defensive player.
Even if they’re not anymore (not necessarily looking at you, LeBron James).
Think George Orwell’s 1984: “We have always been at war with Eurasia.” Groupthink has a tendency to rule the day when it comes to determining defensive reputation.
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz has won the last two Defensive Player of the Year awards, which in combination might finally be enough to stop him from getting the French Rejection come All-Star time this season.
But there are two past winners who could still contend in Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard … not so much at this stage in their respective careers.
It was Leonard that broke the stranglehold big men had on the award with his back-to-back wins in 2014-15 and 2015-16, but bigs do have an advantage in the voting because their work at the rim is much easier to appreciate — and notice — than what a wing does on the perimeter.
Given all of that, let’s dive into the top 10 candidates to hoist the NBA Defensive Player of the Year trophy in 2019-20.