NBA 2018-19: 5 Preseason Picks for Defensive Player of the Year
Defensive-minded players are usually the unsung heroes of the NBA. When it's time to pick the MVP, you rarely see players who specialize in defensive prowess make the shortlist. To emphasize that, four of the last five MVP winners were also the scoring champions for that season. But a defensive anchor can be as valuable for a team as a prolific scorer.
Houston went from losing by 40 at home in the second round in 2017 to finishing one win away from dethroning the Warriors in 2018, all thanks to the defensive abilities of their offseason acquisitions, Chris Paul and P.J. Tucker.
Boston's success despite the loss of Kyrie Irving came because of their defensive resilience, led by the responsible adult of the group, Al Horford.
Even Golden State's success, which is often attributed to their offense, is much due to their defense. Draymond's relentlessness and leadership affect the entire squad, not to mention Andre Iguodala's 2015 NBA Finals performance guarding LeBron.
Let's look at the top 5 preseason candidates for Defensive Player of the Year:
#1 Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis is not the next big thing in the NBA; he is already the biggest thing. The Pelicans' superstar took the team to the playoffs, despite losing DeMarcus Cousins to injury, averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks for a fifth straight season, and led the team to an impressive first round sweep.
Despite being New Orleans' top scorer in the last five years, AD is also an amazing defensive player. Since he joined the league in 2012, the only player who blocked more shot attempts than Davis in the NBA is Serge Ibaka, with 987 to Anthony's 986. In 2015, he became the 13th player in NBA history who recorded at least 200 blocks and 100 steals in a single season, and the youngest one to do so as well.
The only thing that might stand in Davis' way to the award is, ironically, his superstar stature. AD finished third in MVP voting last season and is already one of the frontrunners for this award this season. However, only four of the 21 DPOY winners won the MVP award in their careers, and only two of them did it at the same season.