It goes without saying that 2020 has been a freaky year across the board, so it’s not surprising that it’s been the year of Greek Freak in the NBA. Giannis ‘Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo has the inside track to win the NBA Most Valuable Player award. He’s also the favorite to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) award for the first time in his career.
Antetokounmpo seeks to end Rudy Gobert’s consecutive streak as the Defensive Player of the Year. The Utah Jazz’s Gobert won the coveted award as the NBA’s best defender in 2018 and 2019. He made headlines in early March when he became the first NBA player to test positive for coronavirus.
Gobert averaged 15.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game this season. He averaged 2.3 blocks per game in his previous two seasons when he won the DPOY.
The Greek Freak ranks #3 in the league in scoring with 29.6 points per game. He hauls down 13.7 rebounds per game, which is also third-best in the NBA. He averages 1.3 blocks per game in his career, and he’s averaging 1.1 per game this season.
2020 NBA DPOY ODDS
Giannis Antetokounmpo -230
Anthony Davis +150
Rudy Gobert +2500
Patrick Beverly +10000
Joel Embiid +10000
Anthony Davis brings intensity on both ends of the court for the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James gets a ton of credit for the Lakers’ turn around this season. However, Davis is the primary reason the Lakers are the best team in the west. Davis averaged 2.4 blocks per game this season. Earlier in his career with the Pelicans, Davis led the league in blocks with almost three per game.
Multiple DPOY Winners
In the early 2000s, Ben Wallace from the Detroit Pistons established himself as the best defender in the NBA. Wallace won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award four times, including a pair of back-to-back wins in 2002/2003 and 2005/2006.
When Wallace won his first DPOY, he became the transitional player that marked an end of an era. The 1990s were a rough and tumble decade in the NBA.
The best defenders of that era included big men like Hakeem Olajuwon (1993, 1994), Dennis Rodman (1990, 1991), David Robinson (1992), Dikembe Mutombo (1997, 1998, 2001), and Alonzo Mourning (1999, 2000).
NBA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR (Since 2012)
2019 Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
2018 Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
2017 Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
2016 Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
2015 Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
2014 Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)
2013 Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies)
2012 Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks)
In the modern, trey-happy version of the NBA, defenders have to be able to handle players in the paint and on the perimeter.
Since 2015, Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gobert both won back-to-back DPOY awards. The best defenders in the NBA have historically won multiple DPOY awards, so that will give the Greek Freak an inside edge to win again in 2021.