DPOTY is my favorite individual award because it celebrates players who are willing to sacrifice their body for the good for the good of the team. These players protect the rim and defend their pride.
Honorable Mention: Marcus Smart, Klay Thompson, Andre Roberson(injury), Victor Oladipo, Jimmy Butler(injury), Hassan Whiteside, Myles Turner
STL: 1.8, BLK: 0.9, Defensive Rating: 102
Simmons is top 10 in steals per game, top 3 in loose balls recovered, and he’s one of the most dangerous players in transition. Ben has Lebron-like instincts on defense, playing strong safety capitalizing on soft passes and playing help defender on the weak side.
STL: 0.6, BLK: 1.2, Defensive Rating: 101
Right now the Celtics have by far the best Defensive Rating in league, beating out the second-best team by more than a whole point.
Horford is often overlooked, but he’s the glue guy in Boston. He has a superior defensive IQ and even though he isn’t the most physically imposing center, he’s still nearly elite on that end. Horford is the best defender on the best defense in the league right now.
STL: 1.6, BLK: 1.6, Defensive Rating: 107.4
Andre the Giant has been a beast for Detroit all year by gobbling-up boards, giving consistent effort on defense, and hitting his free throws.
Besides DeMarcus Cousins, Drummond is the only player in the league to average at least 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. He’s also getting 3.6 deflections per game with is fourth best in the association. Andre has freakish athletic ability, and he’s finally starting to use it on both ends of the floor. If Detroit can sneak into the playoffs, Drummond is a legit 2018 DPOTY candidate.
STL: 1.2, BLK: 1.1, Defensive Rating: 104.3
Adams is an ex-factor for OKC partly because of his nasty screen & roll ability but also because of his tenacity. He’s once again in the top 3 for field goal percentage, while averaging over 1 block and 1 steal a game.
Steven may be the strongest player in the league, and he’s probably the second most important player on the Thunder. If OKC still has a top defense come April, Adams’ contribution cannot be overlooked.
STL: 0.7, BLK: 2.3, Defensive Rating: 99.3
Had Rudy been healthy all year he’d be a few slots higher on this list. The Stifle Tower is perhaps the best shot-blocker in the league and he’s been the difference-maker for a revamped Jazz defense since returning from injury, propelling Utah to a 13-3 record.
Gobert’s impact can’t overstated, even if he’s not blocking shots he’s deterring drivers and forcing players to adjust to his presence. He’s contesting a league-best 14.3 shots per game, putting him firmly in the 2018 DPOTY conversation.
STL: 1.3, BLK: 1.5, Defensive Rating: 102.6
Draymond has been banged up the whole year with problems in his shoulder, left-index finger, and knees. His production hasn’t quite been what it was last year, but still he’s snagging 1.3 steals and blocking 1.5 shots per game while being the defensive anchor for the Dubs. Draymond gives the Warriors some ‘nasty’, leading the league in techs despite getting his last one rescinded.
STL: 0.7, BLK: 1.8, Defensive Rating: 104.6
Capela is having a breakout year for the Rockets playing rim protector, running the floor, and catching lobs. The 23-year-old is blocking nearly 2 shots a game in a career-high 27.3 minutes per.
After bringing in defensive-minded players Mbah a Moute, Chris Paul, and PJ Tucker in the offseason, the Rockets went from the 18th ranked defense in 2016-17 to the 9th-ranked defense this year. Houston has best record in the league in large part because of their emerging center.
STL: 1.5, BLK: 1.4, Defensive Rating: 103.6
Giannis has been spectacular in 2017-18 thrusting himself into best-player-in-the-league conversations. He’s capable of almost anything on the floor which includes handling the ball and protecting the rim.
The Bucks lack interior strength and size, so Giannis has to be active on the weak side where his 7′ 3″ wingspan helps out. He’s averaging 1.4 blocks and 1.5 steals while leading the Bucks in points and rebounds.
STL: 0.7, BLK: 1.8, Defensive Rating: 99.8
Embiid’s crazy on/off numbers from last year have carried over in 2018. Right now he has an absurd 109.9 offensive rating, and 99.8 defensive rating which demonstrates his greatness on both ends of the floor.
Embiid a profound impact in Philly not just because of his low-post dominance but because of his shot-blocking and awareness on defense. Embiid thinks he’s the best defender in the league, and though I wouldn’t go that far, he sure does have an argument.
STL: 0.8, BLK: 1.9, Defensive Rating: 106
KD might be the best defender on the Warriors right now and that’s saying something. He and Draymond Green are two erasers at the rim as they combine for 3.3 blocks per game.
The Warriors have brought out an entirely new element to Durant’s greatness and this year he’s become a true rim protector. Don’t let Durant’s slight frame fool you, he’s a beast on offense AND defense.
STL: 2.1, BLK: 0.5, Defensive Rating: 104.7
George has sticky hands and a sweet stroke. He’s averaging a league-best 2.2 steals while shooting a career high 42% from deep. Oklahoma City boasts a top 10 defense and they lead the league in steals with 9.1 per game. If the Thunder snag a top seed in the West, George will get his due as their defensive dynamo.
STL: 1.4, BLK: 2.2, Defensive Rating: 104.7
AD just put up an absurd line against the Suns: 53 points 18 boards and 5 blocks. On the year he’s averaging 2.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, making him the only player to average at least 2 blocks and 1 steal.
Davis is often having to pick up the slack for lineups that are undersized. Offensive-minded players like Nikola Mirotic, Rajon Rondo, Ian Clark, and Darius Miller play major minutes for the Pels. Davis has the ability to erase their perimeter mistakes. AD is a frontrunner for DPOTY and he’s thrust himself in MVP talks as well.