The Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) award recognizes the NBA's MVP on defense, and the winner is usually a good sample of a solid defensive team. The NBA DPOY determines the best defender during the regular season, and even though it sometimes comes down to reputation, the winner is normally a worthy one. In the 2020-21 NBA season, we have some great candidates right now that could take the DPOY trophy home.
It might sound like an old cliché, but defense does win championships in the NBA. Regardless of how many offensive weapons a team could have, a stop, a block, or a steal in a big situation might be the difference between holding the Larry O'Brien Trophy and losing a decisive series.
Many teams understand that premise in today's league, and lots of players do a great job at performing on the defensive end. In this piece, we will rank the five candidates for the 2020-21 NBA DPOY award so far.
5 Candidates for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year 2021
Giannis Antetokounmpo took the trophy home last season after leading the league in Defensive Rating, Defensive Win Shares, and Defensive Box Plus/Minus. He became the fifth player to win an MVP and the DPOY award during his career, and the third to win the two awards in the same season.
This season, Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are not displaying the same level on defense as last year, but he remains a top defender in the league.
Without further ado, let us take a look at the five candidates for the NBA DPOY 2021 so far. This is our February Power Ranking.
#5 Clint Capela - Atlanta Hawks
Clint Capela is an underrated defender and is not usually ranked as one of the game's best big men. Still, the Swiss center does a great job of being the defensive anchor for an Atlanta Hawks team that ranks 14th in Defensive Rating mainly because of his great work.
Capela is averaging a career-high 14.5 rebounds per game and 2.3 blocks per night. Moreover, he ranks second in Total Rebound Percentage and fourth in Block Percentage. Additionally, Capela is sixth in Defensive Rating and seventh in Defensive Win Shares in the NBA.
#4 Ben Simmons - Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons is among the oddsmakers' favorites to win the NBA DPOY in 2021, and he has definitely earned that distinction.
The Australian guard is the playmaker on the Philadelphia 76ers' offense. However, the main aspect of the team's great start to the 2020-21 NBA season (they are the first seed in the East right now) has been the defense. On that area, Simmons has been great.
Though he is just 12th in Defensive Rating in the NBA and second in the team behind Joel Embiid, Simmons leads the league in Defensive Box Plus/Minus and is eighth in Defensive Win Shares and steals per game.
The 76ers' defense starts with Simmons in the backcourt and he's done a tremendous job to be a contender for the DPOY award.
A guard has not won the NBA DPOY award since the 1995-96 season, when Gary Payton won it with the Seattle SuperSonics.