- Rudy Gobert is the new favorite to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year
- Anthony Davis has dropped to third-favorite in the latest DPOY odds
- Where does the betting value lie?
Rudy Gobert has moved to favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year. The Utah Jazz center is once again anchoring an elite defense.
Sixers duo Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid follow in the betting at +1000 and +1200 respectively. The expectation, though, is that this will come down to Gobert versus Davis.
2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds
Odds taken on Jan 26 from DraftKings
Utah Keeps Winning
The Jazz are riding an eight-game winning streak and are third in the NBA in defensive rating over that streak (a ranking they hold for the season as a whole) while Gobert has been phenomenal.
The French center has blocked 23 shots over that span. Throughout the season, Utah has been a mess with Gobert on the bench. They own a 118 defensive rating in minutes without Gobert – that number plummets to 101.8 when the two-time Defensive Player of the Year is on the floor.
While Utah rank just middle of the pack in quantity and efficiency of opponent shots at the rim, they have a near-perfect defensive shot distribution. Gobert’s presence scares off would-be drivers. The Jazz excel at forcing opponents to take mid-range shots, and much of that is down to the threat of Gobert.
As the Jazz pick up wins, and stifle opponents, Gobert’s credentials for Defensive Player of the Year continue to improve. Quin Snyder’s scheme allows Gobert to live near the basket – his importance to Utah is obvious.
Out of Sorts Davis
Anthony Davis is averaging his fewest blocks per game since his rookie year. The Lakers have been a marginally better defensive team without him on the floor. There’s plenty of noise in those numbers, but it reflects how Davis’ play has looked at times this season. He has bordered on disinterested, and been far from the defensive menace we saw in the Orlando bubble.
The Lakers are the best defense in the NBA. Davis is their best defender. Those two facts keep him in the Defensive Player of the Year mix, but he has not been as influential as Gobert so far this season.
Frank Vogel’s team have a defensive rating of just over 100 across their last eight games. They are frequently holding teams to under 100 points. The numbers for the Lakers are great. For Davis, though, he hasn’t been quite as locked in on the defensive end as he was last season. Perhaps that’s just symptomatic of the Lakers spending much of their time on cruise control, but whatever the cause, it’s harming his DPOY case.
Gobert is the better bet of the two as it stands.
Don’t Write Off Dray
The Golden State Warriors defense was an almighty mess to start the season. They were blown out by the Bucks and Nets. They couldn’t guard anyone.
Draymond Green’s return at the start of 2021 was when things changed. Golden State is 17th in defense for the season, but they are 8th in defense over the last 12 games (when Green’s minutes restriction was lifted).
While the Warriors are unlikely to be an elite defensive team like the Lakers, Jazz or even Sixers, Green would deserve immense credit for leading this Warriors roster to a top 10 defense.
He is their leader on and off the court. Green is among the league leaders in charges drawn with 0.31 per game. The team’s approach to defense has changed since Green returned, and that goes beyond the numbers – Green deserves credit for the defensive standards Andrew Wiggins has reached.
Without the Warriors rating as a top three or five defense, it’s very unlikely Green wins a second Defensive Player of the Year, but he shouldn’t be discounted, and he might be worth a small wager at that long price. His impact on this Golden State team is evident, even if his stats aren’t as gaudy as other contenders.