NBA DPOY Power Rankings: Top 5 early season leaders
Having a resilient squad requires an unmitigated will to play defense on a nightly basis. It is no surprise that the teams currently leading the standings are playing solid basketball on the defensive side of the floor, while scoring consistently on the other end.
While most of the spotlight is drawn towards highlight plays trying to get buckets, the effort and energy in restraining the other team from scoring often goes unnoticed. Moreover, with the game shifting out drastically to the three-point line, the art of playing cramping defense has also evolved with time. And this year has only fallen in line with the norm.
In this piece, we take a closer look at the contenders for the DPOY hardware so far, and analyse what separates the defensive acumen of these players from the rest of the pack.
#5 Jayson Tatum
With the Boston Celtics back in solid shape this year, 21-year-old Jayson Tatum has also begun to retrace his projected path of being a quality basketball player after a season's lapse. He is playing with the same intensity and confidence that he showcased in his stellar rookie year, which had led many to believe in his imminent greatness.
Along with averaging a career-high 20.9 points per game, Tatum has been recording almost 1.5 steals per game (another career-high) on the defensive end as well. His impressive defensive rating of 100.2 reflects his loyalty to playing hard on the players assigned to him.
He has been accounting for over one-fourth of the team's defensive rebounds as well as steals single-handedly. The Duke product has been at his absolute best this year when it comes to handling tough defensive assignments, and is averaging just a sliver above 2 personal fouls per matchup while doing so.