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NBA Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) 2021 - Latest Power Rankings - April 28th

Rudy Gobert defends Domantas Sabonis.
Rudy Gobert defends Domantas Sabonis.
ANALYST
Modified 28 Apr 2021
Feature

Our power rankings for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award continue to fluctuate, with just over a fortnight left of the regular season. As the Philadelphia 76ers and the Utah Jazz rank inside the three stingiest defenses this season, it is unsurprising that the runaway leaders for the award are from these teams.

The race for the DPOY award has been a close one to call. Both Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons are making strong cases for themselves. However, since each player has different attributes on the floor, it may well come down to which areas of their play voters feel most accurately represent defensive prowess.

2020-21 NBA Defensive Player of the Year - Latest Power Rankings

With about ten games left for most teams in the regular season, there is little time remaining for the various candidates to strengthen their cases for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

It has been a fascinating battle up until now between two players who are the anchors of their respective team's defenses.

Our power rankings have changed this week, partly due to Myles Turner's unfortunate injury. Bam Adebayo, helped by a stream of social media support from the Miami Heat fanbase, has made a surge up the rankings.

On that note, let's take a look at our latest DPOY rankings in ascending order:

#5 Myles Turner

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner rises up for a dunk
Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner rises up for a dunk

MP - 31, RPG - 6.5, BPG - 3.4, SPG - 0.9, DWS - 2.2, DBPM - 1.7.

Previous NBA DPOY Power Ranking - 3rd (↓2).

Myles Turner was having a good season before he sustained the foot injury that has sidelined him indefinitely.

The Indiana Pacers center was able to focus on his defense while Sabonis took care of the offensive end. Post his injury, his chances of winning his first NBA Defensive Player of the Year title have gone down, despite leading the league for the second time in blocks per game.

Turner is probably the best rim protector on our list. His 3.4 blocks a night is the most by any player since 2016 and the second-most since 2008. Compared to the rest of our top five, the 25-year-old ranks second behind Gobert for opposition field-goal percentage at 45.3%, which also puts him in the top 16% of all players.


#4 Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo goes up to block Nikola Jokic.
Giannis Antetokounmpo goes up to block Nikola Jokic.

MP - 33.7, RPG - 11.4, BPG - 1.3, SPG - 1.2, DWS - 3.1, DBPM - 2.7

Previous NBA DPOY Power Ranking - 4th (-).

Despite winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award last season, Giannis Antetokounmpo could lose out on the award this campaign. That is not to say the Greek has not been an elite defender; his defensive box +/- is the best in our list and is only 1.4 short of his total last year.

However, as he now has less defensive responsibility in the Milwaukee Bucks' team, Antetokounmpo's defensive win share could be at its lowest since 2016. His efficiency has been below 100 in the last two campaigns, while it is at 106 this year.

Nevertheless, there are very few players in the league who can effectively match up against Antetokounmpo's size and athleticism.

Although he has defensive stalwarts in Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday alongside him, the 26-year-old remains the leader of the Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokounmpo has a team-leading net rating of 10 this season, which ranks him seventh in the league for players who have played more than 45 games.


#3 Bam Adebayo

Bam Adebayo fights for the ball in the air.
Bam Adebayo fights for the ball in the air.

MP - 33.5, RPG - 9.1, BPG - 1.1, SPG - 1.1, DWS - 2.9, DBPM - 1.9.

Previous NBA DPOY Power Ranking - 5th (↑2).

Though his team has had an inconsistent campaign this season, Bam Adebayo has been the Miami Heat's most consistent performer at both ends of the floor.

He is currently the closest challenger to the top two in our list for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Thanks to his exploits, the Miami Heat's defense has improved and is now ranked fifth-best for efficiency.

Adebayo is an elite defender who can guard all positions from one through five. When he switches, the Miami Heat allow only 0.92 points per possession, which would give them the No.1 defense in the league.

Moreover, he has only allowed 60 points on 76 isolation situations against All-Stars, which equates to 0.82 points per iso. That includes his stellar performance against Kyrie Irving on the 17th of April.

After Antetokounmpo, Adebayo is the only other player in our list for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award who has grabbed one block and one steal per game this season.


#2 Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons has been the Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons has been the Philadelphia 76ers' defensive leader this campaign.

MP - 33.0, RPG - 7.6, BPG - 0.7, SPG - 1.6, DWS - 2.8, DBPM - 1.9.

Previous NBA DPOY Power Ranking - 1st (↓1).

Ben Simmons' case for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year was made even stronger recently while he missed four games for the Philadelphia 76ers. In his absence, the 76ers lost all four matches, while their opponents scored 119.8 points per matchup, 14 more than the team's season average.

On his return against the lowly OKC Thunder, Simmons helped the 76ers contain their opposition to just 90 points while grabbing three steals in 23 minutes.

The 24-year-old has an elite net rating of 7.5 and is second in our list for least opposition points allowed. The point forward can guard any opponent and often takes on their best player. He has been key to the Philadelphia 76ers maintaining a top-3 defense for most of the season and could lead the franchise to their first NBA title since the 1980s.


#1 Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert has led the NBA Defensive Player of the Year odds for most of the season.
Rudy Gobert has led the NBA Defensive Player of the Year odds for most of the season.

MP - 31.1, RPG - 13.5, BPG - 2.8, SPG - 0.5, DWS - 4.4, DBPM - 2.6

Previous NBA DPOY Power Ranking - 2nd (↑1).

Rudy Gobert remains the bookmakers' favorite for this year's NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

That is despite the Frenchman's momentary brain-freeze on Monday night that cost Utah Jazz a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Gobert was quick to hold his hands up after the game and take the blame for calling a switch with Mike Conley Jr., only to leave his man, D'Angelo Russell, completely open for the winning lay-up.

The Utah Jazz were the first team this year to lock in their playoff place, thanks to Gobert's defensive efforts. The 28-year-old is their anchor in defense and is exceptional in providing cover for his teammates, ranking second in the league for blocked shots.

His defensive win share of 4.4 is the best among all players, while his 10.1 defensive rebounds per game rank him at No.1 as well.

Nevertheless, the race for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award could come down to the wire. That's because both Utah and Philadelphia have an almost identical defensive efficiency, but Rudy Gobert could get the nod due to his superior rim protection.

Published 28 Apr 2021
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