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5 Greatest defenders who never won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award

Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant
Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant
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Modified 14 Jan 2021, 19:44 IST
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The NBA Defensive Player of the Year award has often rewarded the greatest defenders in every era of the league since it was created in 1982.

However, we have seen some superstar defenders who the award has evaded for several reasons. In this article, we will list the five greatest defenders who did not win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

5 defensive specialists who never won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award

Whether other defenders simply did a better job or their team was not good enough, some defensive specialists have not managed to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

The game of basketball will always require a great defensive commitment from any side that expects to fight for an NBA championship.

We often see the term 'two-way player' to describe an athlete who makes a solid impact on both sides of the basketball floor.

Still, the term is often used with players who are mainly attacking in nature. This article will be exploring their prowess on the other side of the court.

Without further ado, let us start with the five greatest defenders who could not win the NBA DPOY.


#5 LeBron James

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LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers blocks a dunk by Aron Baynes #46 of the Boston Celtics - 2018 ECF.
LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers blocks a dunk by Aron Baynes #46 of the Boston Celtics - 2018 ECF.

LeBron James will not be a player known for his defensive abilities in upcoming decades, as he has displayed a plethora of other skills on the basketball court. Still, his defensive presence has been overlooked by many.

Despite being one of the most versatile defenders in history, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year has evaded him so far. It remains one of the very few trophies that 'The King' has not been able to win yet in his illustrious career.

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There are hours of tape available on LeBron James' chase-down blocks and him preventing teams from scoring on seemingly easy fast break opportunities.

Moreover, LeBron is still a player who tries to take the challenge of guarding the opposing team's best scorer in big moments, and that is an attitude of an NBA DPOY award winner.

LeBron James came closest to winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in the 2012-13 season, when he finished second behind Marc Gasol. The 36-year-old has six selections to the All-Defensive teams throughout his career.


#4 Bruce Bowen

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers moves the ball against Bruce Bowen #12 of the San Antonio Spurs.
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers moves the ball against Bruce Bowen #12 of the San Antonio Spurs.

For an undrafted player who averaged just 6.1 points in his NBA career, there must be a big reason why he was able to play 873 games and start 644 times.

For Bruce Bowen, defense was the main tool that helped him become a three-time NBA champion.

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Bruce Bowen was a tremendous 3-and-D player in three NBA championship-winning seasons for the San Antonio Spurs (2003, 2005, and 2007).

Not only did he earn eight consecutive All-Defensive selections from 2001 until 2008, but Bowen also made 39% of his three-pointers in that span (2.9 attempts per game).

Bowen earned five All-Defensive First Team selections. However, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award evaded him for his entire career.

He finished second in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting three consecutive times from 2005 to 2007, behind Ben Wallace twice and Marcus Camby once.

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Published 14 Jan 2021, 19:41 IST
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