Two of the potential Defensive Player of the Year winners will take to the court Tuesday for the start of the NBA season: Anthony Davis for the Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks.
Betting YES will defend each of the favorites for individual NBA season awards prior to the season opener.
You can find the latest NBA futures odds on SI Sportsbook here. Let’s get into the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year:
Bets prior to the NBA Awards 2021-22: Mvp | ROTY | DPOY
Rudy Gobert (+280)
The recipe for Gobert to win DPOY for the second season in a row and the third time in four years is clear – he’s done it many times already. If the great Jazz player rolls similar numbers from 2020-21, he can tie with Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutumbo for most DPOY awards.
Gobert is the quarterback for Utah’s suffocating defense in the paint. Pretty much any way you look at it – opponent’s points per game, opponent’s field goal percentage, blocks per game – Utah was in the top five defensive units, and Gobert was at the center of that operation, literally.
He was the first in the NBA in defensive win actions, which is an estimate of the number of wins a player contributed on defense, and he led the league in total rebounds and total blocks.
Availability has been an important component of Gobert’s case during the three years that he won the DPOY. He played 56 of the 82 possible games in the 2017-2018 season. However, during the past two seasons, he only missed two regular season games. If Gobert can stay healthy, history suggests he will be in the paint for Utah in another DPOY-level campaign.
Ben Simmons (+400)
Making Simmons’ case might be a bit clearer if we knew for sure where (or if) he will play this season. If he stays in Philadelphia playing alongside All-NBA caliber defenders Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle, it’s easy to see Simmons, who was a runner-up for the award last year, taking home this time.
The versatility he has on defense to protect opposing bands and not backtrack to forwards is what makes him so valuable as a defender on the ball. With a 6-foot 11-inch frame, Simmons obstructs the passing lanes. He led the NBA in steals with more than two per game in the 2019-20 season.
If Simmons left the 76ers in a trade and helped his new team take a defensive leap, he might as well claim the award. That scenario might actually be more impressive than looking like another good defender on a Philadelphia roster packed with them. The credit would be easier to dish out if Simmons lands on a new team.
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Simmons’ future, which makes it difficult to recommend making a future bet for him. Still, he has shown in his short time in the NBA what an elite defender he is and is more than capable of earning Defensive Player of the Year honors in Philadelphia or elsewhere.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (+650)
Antetokounmpo prevented Gobert from winning four consecutive DPOY awards when he won it for the 2019-2020 season. He led the league in defensive win actions and defensive box over / under that year, while averaging one steal and one block per game. Antetokounmpo’s advanced defensive metrics took a step back last season, but if you remember his lock on Deandre Ayton in the Finals, it’s clear that he’s still capable of being the best defender in the NBA.
The current Finals MVP will actually have more on his plate defensively this year following the departure of stuntman PJ Tucker, who started alongside him during the playoffs. That increased responsibility could allow him to falter or prosper, although Milwaukee is not short of staunch defenders.
Antetokounmpo will have to take his defensive presence to a new level to regain the DPOY title. And while another appears offensive update is imminent, has shown that he is more than capable of flirting with 30 points per game and blocking the best players in the opposition.
Anthony Davis (+700)
“The Brow” is going to Game Center this season. Davis, who is 6-foot-10, has turned his nose to play five for much of his career. The news that he will play center is good for the Lakers on both sides of the ball, but also good for their chances of winning the DPOY.
He recently said he was anchoring the Lakers defense last season, but he did it while playing power forward, so he was often on the perimeter.
“Now in the big five, I can see everything on the court and be able to anchor the defense and talk to the guys,” Davis said, according to Lakers Nation. That’s similar to the role Gobert plays in Utah.
Last season, Davis averaged a career-low 1.6 blocks per game, and his steal numbers also fell. Playing close to the basket, he’ll have a good chance to bring those numbers back to his First Team Defense days. The core of the Lakers champion team that relied on their defense is gone. The responsibility now rests with Davis, the youngest of the Lakers’ Big 3.
THE CHOSE: Davis.
Frank Vogel’s teams have been defined by stellar defense and Davis is by far the Lakers’ best defender. An injury hampered his overall defense last season, but now that he’s healthy, he’s ready to claim the award he’s flirted with for years.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.