The defense in NBA has been overlooked throughout the season because of the record breaking performances on the offensive side of the game. We are witnessing amazing offensive performances:
Russell Westbrook finished the regular season averaging more than 30 points per game and a triple-double, James Harden leads the league in points and assists, and a whopping 35 players are poised to pour in 20 or more points per game—which would be the most in NBA history.
Given all these historical performances, the following players have been chosen and ranked according to individual defensive prowess and team-wide impact. Here are your 2017 NBA top defensive players of the year candidates:
#4 Hassan Whiteside, Center, Miami Heat
Hassan Whiteside hasn’t been the same shot-blocker in the NBA this season compared to his 2015-16 campaign when he led the league with 3.7 blocks per game. But that doesn’t mean he’s been any less effective on defense.
He has held opponents to 47.1 percent shooting at the basket and grabbed an NBA-best 10.5 defensive rebounds per game while serving as the backbone of a Miami Heat defense that ranks e is sixth in efficiency.
#3 Rudy Gobert, Center, Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert AKA The Eiffel Tower, a nickname that the 7 feet 2 inches french native earned in the NBA by making his presence known in the paint. He led the league in opponent field-goal percentage at the basket (minimum 4.0 attempts per game) during 2014-15 and 2015-16 while finishing among the top-four in blocks per game.
Led by Gobert’s defense, the Jazz secured the 5th seed in the Western conference and rank third-stingiest defense in the NBA.
He’s on pace for his first shot-blocking title (2.5 per game), ranks fifth in the Association in defensive rebounding (9.0 per game) and has the highest defensive real plus/minus rating around, per ESPN.
#2 Kawhi Leonard, small forward, San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard AKA the “GLOVE” due to his huge hands, fits the narrative of the perfect defender player; at 6′ foot 6 inches, 7 feet 3 inches wingspan, and can defend every position on a basketball court. Per Bleacher report “He’s the best defender on the league’s stingiest squad, with an impeccable track record to boot; he’s won the NBA’s award two years running”.
According to ESPN, he barely ranks among the top 25 at his own position, let alone the league, in defensive real plus-minus. Per NBA.com, the Spurs have allowed 8.3 fewer points per 100 possessions when Leonard’s sat out games compared to when he’s played. His Greatest attribute is the fact he is the best player on both sides of the ball in his team. He is arguably the greatest defensive specialist scorer in the NBA history. Not that anyone in the league is about to cut Leonard any slack for that.
“When we start calling two-way players, I don’t know when that became a big deal,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers told Bleacher Report when discussing Leonard’s MVP candidacy. “But all of a sudden, we’re now saying two-way players. It’s like, ‘Yeah, it’s basketball. You don’t get a huddle and get out on defense.
#1 Draymond Green, Power Forward/Center, Golden State Warriors
Had the media voted on postseason awards prior to the All-Star break, Draymond Green would’ve been named Defensive Player of the Year. That’s according to an informal poll of 80 media members with postseason awards ballots conducted by ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
Now, that the regular season has ended it is still tough to say who wins but one thing we are for sure; is that the trophy will come down to two players with great resume: Kawhi Leonard And Draymond Green. The past two years, Draymond Green has been a runner-up for defensive player of the year to Kawhi Leonard but this year might be the year for Draymond to triumph over Leonard because Lenard’s offensive performances are overshadowing is defense performances. Draymond Green ranks second in ESPN’s defensive real plus/minus (4.76) and seventh in opponent field-goal percentage (44.3) among volume basket protectors while leading the league in steals and standing among the top 15 in blocks.
Both of these two players deserve the DPOY award By dint of the NBA’s voting system—which assigns five points for a first-place vote, three for second place and one for third place—Green would’ve tallied 295 points, ahead of Rudy Gobert (193) and Kawhi Leonard (185).
Should that constituency hold over the next six weeks, (and when the other 50 voters have their say), Green would become the first player in Golden State Warriors history to win this award. This, after finishing as the runner-up to Leonard in each of the past two campaigns.
“I feel pretty good about what I’ve done defensively,” Green told Haynes. “I think there are some things I can get better at and continue to improve. But overall, I feel like I’ve been pretty good individually, and I think we’ve been good as a team.”