Three-Man Race for 2017-18 Defensive Player of the Year?

Matthew Jordan

Monday, October 2, 2017 4:36 PM UTC

Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 4:36 PM UTC

The sporting landscape is about to get much busier as the NBA season tips off earlier than usual this year, on Tuesday, Oct. 17. So, more and more props are being rolled out daily. Today, we look at odds for Defensive Player of the Year.

Voting for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year each season is a bit ambiguous. Should it go to the guy with the most steals? Blocks? Defensive rebounds? A mix of the three? Overall defensive rating? How can we truly quantify which player makes the biggest impact on that side of the court?

It’s widely accepted that the best defensive player in the NBA right now is San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard. He was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2015-16 and the season before. He was a finalist last year as well, finishing third. Leonard is +335 to win DPOY this season at 5Dimes and any other player is -505. The NBA preseason is underway and you won’t see Leonard at all. He’s rehabbing an injury to his right quadriceps.

Remember, too, Leonard suffered a badly sprained ankle in Game 1 of last season’s West Finals vs. Golden State. That series might have been dramatically different if Leonard hadn’t gotten hurt as the Spurs were up 25 points in the opener in Oakland before Leonard went down and the Dubs rallied on the way to a sweep. Leonard is looking to join Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace (both four times each) and Dwight Howard (three) as the only players in league history to win DPOY at least three times.

The reigning DPOY is Golden State’s Draymond Green, and he’s +185 on this NBA betting prop with the field at -265. Green was an easy winner in the voting, receiving 73 of the 100 first-place votes. Jazz center Rudy Gobert got 16 and Leonard 11. Green became only the sixth non-first round pick in NBA history to win Defensive Player of the Year, joining Marc Gasol, Wallace, Dennis Rodman, Mark Eaton and Michael Cooper. Green had finished second to Leonard the previous two years. The addition of Kevin Durant allowed Green to focus less on offense and more on defense.

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Finally, Utah’s Gobert is +400 with the field at -600. The Frenchman is the face of the franchise after Gordon Hayward left in free agency to Boston. Gobert led the NBA in blocks per game in 2016-17 at 2.64. He was tied for sixth in defensive rebounds per game at 8.9. Gobert became the first player in Jazz history to record 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 200 blocks in the same season and the first player in the NBA since Howard in 2009-10. I personally thought Gobert should have won the DPOY as he was first in the NBA in defensive win shares (6.0) and defensive real plus/minus (6.03).

Just don’t expect this award to go to a guard. It hasn’t since Hall of Famer Gary Payton in 1995-96. Big men dominated this DPOY list -- at least until the past three seasons as guys like Leonard and Green are rewarded by being able to guard multiple positions. But I like Gobert this year. The Jazz will focus even more on defense with Hayward gone. As it was, Utah held opponents to under 90 points 25 times last season, most in the NBA, and held a 21-4 record in those games.

Free NBA Pick: Gobert +400Best Line Offered: 5Dimes
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