The race for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award has continued to draw plenty of buzz around the league. With the 2021-22 NBA regular season finally coming to a close, basketball fans around the world continue to anxiously await who will take home the prestigious award.
It's been a year full of fascinating storylines, as the NBA now prepares for the final results of the play-in tournament before the playoffs get underway. A number of players throughout the league have made a late push to earn serious consideration for this year's award, including Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Phoenix Suns wing Mikal Bridges, as well as others.
With the regular season coming to an end, it's time to take a look at the updated Defensive Player of the Year power rankings by Sportskeeda.
No. 5: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Previous week’s NBA DPOY Power Ranking - N/A
Last Week: Games played - 3; Games won - 1; Games lost - 2
Overall: Games played - 78; Games won - 53; Games lost - 25
Last Week: PPG - 16.7, APG - 1.0, RPG - 6.0
Overall: PPG - 16.3, APG - 1.1, RPG - 5.8
Last Week: FG% - 35.0%, SPG - 0.7, BPG - 0.3
Overall: FG% - 41.5%, SPG - 0.9, BPG - 2.3
The Memphis Grizzlies sent shockwaves throughout the NBA with their impressive performances during the 2021-22 NBA season. Memphis ended up finishing as the second seed in the Western Conference standings with an overall record of 56-26 on the year. One of the major reasons for the Grizzlies' strong play this year was young big man Jaren Jackson Jr.
A versatile forward with the ability to lock down opponents, Jackson took serious strides this year and continued to showcase an impressive ability as a rim protector. In his last week of action, Jackson went on to post averages of 16.7 points and 6.0 rebounds. He finished the year with 2.3 blocks per game and should receive some recognition as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
No. 4: Bam Adebayo
Previous week’s NBA DPOY Power Ranking - 2nd
Last Week: Games played - 2; Games won - 2; Games lost - 0
Overall: Games played - 56; Games won - 36; Games lost - 20
Last Week: PPG - 23.0, APG - 3.5, RPG - 7.5
Overall: PPG - 19.1, APG - 3.4, RPG - 10.1
Last Week: FG% - 62.5%, SPG - 1.5, BPG - 0.5
Overall: FG% - 55.7%, SPG - 1.4, BPG - 0.8
The Miami Heat have continued to be one of the most impressive teams in the NBA and currently find themselves atop the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 53-29 this year. When Miami is at their best, it's due to the two-way ability of franchise big man Bam Adebayo.
One of the top young centers in the league, Adebayo continued to showcase his presence on both sides of the ball this year and should receive plenty of votes in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. Although Adebayo missed a large chunk of the season with an injury, he still went on to post averages of 19.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while shooting 55.7% from the field.
No. 3: Rudy Gobert
Previous week’s NBA DPOY Power Ranking - 4th
Last Week: Games played - 4; Games won - 3; Games lost - 1
Overall: Games played - 66; Games won - 42; Games lost - 24
Last Week: PPG - 19.0, APG - 1.0, RPG - 14.0
Overall: PPG - 15.6, APG - 1.1, RPG - 14.7
Last Week: FG% - 76.7%, BPG - 1.5, FT% - 66.7%
Overall: FG% - 71.3%, BPG - 2.1, FT% - 69.0%
Throughout the 2021-22 NBA season, the Utah Jazz have found themselves positioned in the middle of the pack when it comes to the Western Conference standings. Utah went on to post a 49-33 record this season, good enough for fifth place in the West. When the Jazz have been at their best, it's been due to the impressive defensive ability of big man Rudy Gobert.
The former Defensive Player of the Year recipient, Gobert has been a solid force on both sides of the ball this year and has had the numbers to back it up. Gobert went on to finish the year with averages of 15.6 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.
No. 2: Mikal Bridges
Previous week’s NBA DPOY Power Ranking - 3rd
Last Week: Games played - 4; Games won - 2; Games lost - 2
Overall: Games played - 82; Games won - 64; Games lost - 18
Last Week: PPG - 9.3, APG - 1.8, RPG - 3.0
Overall: PPG - 14.2, APG - 2.3, RPG - 4.2
Last Week: FG% - 57.7%, SPG - 0.8, BPG - 0.0
Overall: FG% - 53.4%, SPG - 1.2, BPG - 0.4
The Phoenix Suns have been one of the most dominant teams in the league throughout the 2021-22 NBA season. Phoenix went on to finish with the best record in the league at 64-18 and look like the favorites to make a run towards the NBA Finals. One of the biggest developments for the team this year was the improved play of young wing Mikal Bridges.
While the Suns roster has plenty of firepower, Bridges proved to be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. The versatile wing has started to build a reputation around the league as one of the top defenders and should have a serious chance to take home the Defensive Player of the Year award. Bridges went on to post averages of 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game this season while shooting 53.4% from the field.
No. 1: Marcus Smart
Previous week’s NBA DPOY Power Ranking - 1st
Last Week: Games played - 3; Games won - 2; Games lost - 1
Overall: Games played - 71; Games won - 47; Games lost - 24
Last Week: PPG - 14.0, APG - 6.3, RPG - 2.0
Overall: PPG - 12.1, APG - 5.9, RPG - 3.8
Last Week: FG% - 50.0%, SPG - 1.3, BPG - 0.3
Overall: FG% - 41.8%, SPG - 1.7, BPG - 0.3
The second half turnaround for the Boston Celtics was one of the most impressive accomplishments for any team in the NBA. Boston ended up with an overall record of 51-31 for the season, good enough to put them in second place in the Eastern Conference standings. One of the top defensive teams in the league lately, veteran guard Marcus Smart has been the engine that has made the team go.
Smart has been one of the top defenders across the NBA but saw his game reach another level this year. He's quickly become a favorite for the Defensive Player of the Year award and went on to post averages of 12.1 points, 5.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game this year for the Celtics.