It’s that time of year again, the campaign trail for every defensive player out there to explain why they should be the Defensive Player of the Year over Rudy Gobert.
Draymond Green started campaigning for himself early this year but when he missed a major part of the season due to injury, he lost his chance. Now, he’s doing the same thing but for Mikal Bridges
I’m sure this has nothing to do with Green wanting to be considered the best defender of this NBA era.
Then there’s Marcus Smart, who’s also had a great season. But just like Green, apparently it’s necessary to talk about Gobert to make your case.
From Tim Bontemps articles at ESPN:
“Let’s think about it,” Smart said. “As a guard, especially on the team that switches a lot, especially on the No. 1 defensive team, you are worried about every single player. And here’s the thing: When you see Defensive Player of the Year, that means he can guard all five spots.
“Nothing against Rudy, but Rudy can’t guard all five spots. I can guard all five spots and I have been doing it. I’ve done it very well.”
It’s a lot of talk about one player from all these candidates vying for the award. If anything, Rudy Gobert should be flattered. For example, in presidential politics when candidates are vying for party nomination who is the one that every takes shots at in the media? The leader. It’s clearly the same case for Gobert. They wouldn’t be sniping at Gobert if he wasn’t the one in lead position. And don’t get it wrong, he’s still the best defender in the NBA.
Don’t believe me, look at what happens when Gobert is off the floor.
DPOY candidates on/off/difference:— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 7, 2022
Rudy Gobert: 105.1/112.3/minus-7.2
Bam Adebayo: 104.8/108.8/minus-4.0
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 107.7/111.3/minus-3.6
Jaren Jackson Jr.: 105.8/107.2/minus-1.4
Marcus Smart: 104.8/105.2/minus-0.4
Mikal Bridges: 106.7/101.2/plus-5.5
It’s a perfect visualization of how good a defender Rudy Gobert is.
So how likely is Rudy Gobert to win Defensive Player of the Year? The odds have Marcus Smart as the favorite. But there’s a scenario where the wide array of candidates helps Rudy Gobert win the award. Different regions of the country will likely have different candidates. The northeast will see Marcus Smart get some votes, maybe we see Mikal Bridges get votes from the west coast. But a lot of these voters will probably throw second and third place votes for Rudy Gobert. Because of his reputation, a lot of voters might be willing to give him a second-place vote and that gives him a real shot at the award. It’s a closer race for DPOY than we’ve seen in a long time, but don’t be surprised if Rudy Gobert walks away with the trophy for a fourth time.