It’s kind of odd with all of the buzz around the rookie of the year, coach of the year, and MVP races that there really isn’t a huge amount of attention on this one. The list of qualified candidates isn’t that long either in my eyes. Last year Draymond Green stuck out like a sore thumb and deservedly won the award. Although it seemed the race was really tight leading up to the award presentation, Green got 73 1st place votes to Goberts’ 16, and Kawhi Leonards’ 11.
This year is a different story as Golden State for lack of a better term coasted their way into the playoffs creating a kind of shadow over any type of statistical brilliance by any of the warrior players had. Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green are still two of the better defensive players in the league but this year is Rudy Goberts’ year by a landslide. He has had the most influence, and effect on the defensive side of the ball than any other player.
When Rudy Gobert wins the Defensive player of the year award (yes I said it), he will be the first player to ever with the award playing fewer than 64 games in a season (Non-lockout).
As that may seem a unfair, he is simply better than any candidate defensively. It’s not even the blocked shots that are impressive to me. It’s how scared, even the best of the best are when going into the paint and attempting to get a shot off close to the basket. With that being said, that allows the Jazz perimeter players to be even more aggressive because they know if they get beat they have a scary center waiting for them when they get there.
The Utah Jazz finished the season tied for 1st in opponent points per game. As we all know the Jazz play at one of the slower paces in the NBA but that still doesn’t take away how impressive it is how often they were able to keep teams under 100 points in this day and age in the NBA. Every team in the NBA besides two (Sacramento, and memphis) averaged AT LEAST 102.3 points per game this season and the Jazz allowed only 99.8 points to opponents on average. They held teams under 100 points 41 times, and I guarantee that number is higher if Rudy doesn’t miss the games he missed.
Side note: Back in December the Jazz handed the Washington Wizards their worst loss of the season. The Wizards scored a season low 69 points in the entire game, and the most validating thing about this is that this is the game Rudy Gobert returned from his 11 game absence. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.
The last thing I want to point out about that game was that the Jazz were able to go on a run of 33 points while only allowing 6 to Washington. Those are the kind of runs that will be needed to make a deep run this post season.
As the votes for the Defensive player award have already been submitted, I dont believe we will have to wonder for two months who’s going to get it.
Others I considered: Anthony Davis, Paul George, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, and Jimmy Butler.
Featured image credit: ftw.usatoday.com