Last season we saw a rare small forward win the Defensive Player of the Year award when Kawhi Leonard took down the award. This was a big win for advanced analytics and just the way we view what the defensive player could be. For so long it’s been all about power forwards and centers that we forget how great of defenders the wings and guards can be. Let’s take a look at the odds to take down the award in 2016 from 5Dimes.
The early favorite is the Stifle Tower, Rudy Gobert at +400. The Jazz center played absolutely huge in the second half of the season and was a dominating force in the paint. Many analysts are picking him to pick up right where he left of and dominate again this season, but I’m not so sure. Teams are so smart these days that they have probably picked apart the tape on Gobert to find weaknesses. They also just might be smart enough to simply stay away from the guy. He’s a solid pick, but there are other options.
If DeAndre Jordan didn’t win it last year, he’s just not going to win it. He was a force, but I am not buying him making an even bigger improvement than he did last season. At +500 he is considered a favorite, but I just don’t see it.
The same can be said for last year’s winner, Kawhi Leonard. He’s still going to be very good on defense and a key to everything the Spurs do, but that level of performance is hard to sustain year after year. Even if he does manage to sustain it, it’s easy to see the media saying “eh we voted for him last year”. We are living in a fickle era.
My personal favorite for this award is the same man that I picked as my favorite for the MVP: Anthony Davis. He is just one of the most dominating players in all of basketball right now and I am expecting a huge season from him. He is a blocking machine and he could lead the league in rebounding numbers. He could have multiple triple-doubles this season and even a few quadruple doubles that would make him a sexy pick for the defensive player of the year. At +700 I feel like he is a steal for this award.
Looking for a bigger underdog? How about Serge Ibaka at +3300. He’s been in the running for this award the past few years and if he’s healthy the Thunder should be very good. When you consider he’s one of the only guys on that team who can even play defense, his value really sticks out.