NBA 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year Odds and Analysis

NBA 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year Odds and Analysis

There’s a specific profile of a Defensive Player of the Year. We know this because previous winners of the award have often won it on multiple occasions. Last year’s winner, Rudy Gobert, won it for the third time in his career. He’s finished top three in the voting in each of the past six seasons.

Since the award was introduced in 1983, ten players have won it more than once. Furthermore, four players have won it at least three times. That limits the number of players who have a legitimate chance actually to win the award. Those winners also tend to play in the frontcourt as the last guard to win the prize was Gary Payton in 1996.

Below, I’ll provide a compilation of the players with the best value to win the award. However, to view a complete list, head over to FanDuel Sportsbook, where you can find daily updated odds for this award and others throughout the regular season.

Best Odds to Win

  • Rudy Gobert +380
  • Ben Simmons +500
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo +700
  • Bam Adebayo + 1600
  • Draymond Green +2500

Rudy Gobert +380

Even with the shortest odds on the board, Gobert still has some value to win this award. After all, you’re getting close to a $400 return on a $100 wager. At 29 years old, he’s still in his prime and averaged a career-high 2.68 blocks per game last year. Utah has tremendous spacing with its perimeter shooting, and Gobert’s good enough that he’s often the lone Jazz player in the paint responsible for rebounding the basketball. You might wonder how a player with a career average of 12 points and 11 rebounds was awarded a $205 million contract extension.

Gobert managed to qualify for a supermax contract by winning the DPOY award and was also named to the All-NBA team. The Frenchman’s fully committed to his work on the defensive end, reminiscent of players like Ben Wallace and Dennis Rodman. However, neither of those players was seven feet tall. Utah has proven you can still play with a seven-footer in the modern game by surrounding him with many perimeter players.

Last year, Gobert finished with the highest defensive win shares (5.2) of any player in the league, and he’s finished in the top three of this category in each of the past three seasons. This metric isn’t necessarily the end of determining a winner, but it’s a pretty good indicator. As long as Gobert finishes somewhere in the top ten, he’s got a chance to win the award.

Ben Simmons +500

Is there a chance that we get a motivated Simmons for the 2021-22 season? I think so. A little fire in the belly never hurts anyone. However, Simmons’ status remains a bit of a question mark considering that he only ended his holdout about a week ago. How likely is it that he’ll be traded, and if he stays in Philadelphia, can he coexist with his teammates after demanding a trade? While it’s clear that those issues need to be ironed out, you can’t deny his ability to guard players one through five in the league. He often defended the opposing team’s best player yet still finished with a 106.1 defensive rating. The below comment was a little jab at what Simmons thought of Gobert as an elite defender. Maybe that fuels him this season since he missed out on the award.

One does have to worry about voters possibly souring on Simmons for his shenanigans during the offseason. But at some point, there might be some fatigue with voters repeatedly handing the award to Gobert. Simmons all but did an entire press blitz campaigning for himself. Perhaps he’s just been laying the groundwork for this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo +700

The Greek Freak¬†is on a mission, which could mean bad news for the rest of the league. Over the summer, he added an NBA championship and a Finals MVP to his litany of career awards. Ironically, his progression was gradual and rapid at the same time. He began his NBA career with an All-Rookie Second Team selection in 2014. Then, in 2017, he received his first All-Star selection, the Most Improved Player award, an All-NBA Second Team selection, and was named to the All-Defensive Second Team. He’s been an All-Star every year since 2017 and received another All-NBA Second Team selection in 2018. The following year in 2019 began a three-year run as an All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team player. Let’s not forget he won back-to-back MVP awards in 2019 and 2020.

Antetokounmpo was the only player last season who averaged over one steal and one block while scoring over 25 points per game. He also finished third in contributing 2.6 points per 100 possessions in the Defensive Box Plus/Minus metric. Given what we know about his drive and work ethic, his commitment to being the best all-around player in the league is unwavering.

Who can forget his well-timed block at the rim to break up a DeAndre Ayton alley-oop?

What’s impressive about him is his ability to play with the same intensity on both sides of the court. His appetite is insatiable as he doesn’t just want to win one award; he wants to win multiple ones. At his size, he’s in peak condition and doesn’t miss many games. While he’s in his prime, he should be a solid consideration to win this award every year.

Bam Adebayo +1600

After acquiring Kyle Lowry via a sign-and-trade with the Raptors, the Miami Heat figure to be contenders in the Eastern Conference, they also added P.J Tucker and Markieff Morris to provide additional depth on the roster. These moves might suggest that we’ll see a bit of a switch in tactics by the Heat. There’s a chance this could be the best defensive team in the league when you pair these new additions with Adebayo and Jimmy Butler.

Adebayo’s still only 24 years old and entering his fifth season. He averaged a career-high 18.7 points last season, and like Antetokounmpo, he’s on a shortlist of players that averaged at least a block (1.3) and a steal (1.1) per game.

And when you have his ability to defend at the rim, you should perennially challenge for the DPOY award.

I’m not saying he’ll follow the same trajectory as Antetokounmpo. However, he’s been named the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in back-to-back seasons, and he’s yet to reach his peak. We’ve seen the players become more prominent superstars at times in the league after receiving acclaim for their defensive skills.

That seems like a goal that would be a natural step in Adebayo’s development.

Draymond Green +2500

Let’s not forget about the experienced veteran, Green, who was back on the NBA All-Defensive First Team after a three-year absence. Green finished third in the league with 1.7 steals. When he won the DPOY award in 2017, he averaged two steals per game. I think if he can average somewhere around one block per game, he’ll have a great chance to win it again.

Green finished second to Nerlens Noel in the Defensive Box Plus/Minus metric (3.3 points per 100 possessions). He also became more of a distributor to help the offense as he averaged a career-high in 8.9 assists. However, I think we can see Green play more on the interior when Klay Thompson returns from injury. The Warriors should be more robust in the frontcourt with the combination of Kevon Looney and James Wiseman, who’ll be in his second year. Thus, there’s a chance we could see Green play more on the weak side, which would allow him to pick up a few more blocks than he did last season.

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