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NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds: Draymond Green on Cruise Control

With how elite the Golden State Warriors have been on defense this season, it stands to reason they would have the frontrunner for DPOY. Can anyone stand in the way of Draymond Green winning?
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NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds: Draymond Green on Cruise Control

Improved defense has been a theme of this 2021-2022 NBA season through the first two months. The league’s points per game is its lowest since 2018, field goal percentage its lowest since 2016, and the three-point revolution has hit a snag with its lowest percentage of shots made since 2004. This, of course, could all just be a small sample problem. We are 430 games into a 1,200+ game season.

But through those first 430 games, there are a number of teams and, more importantly for our betting purposes, players who stand out above the rest. Let’s take a look at the odds leaders in the clubhouse for the Defensive Player of the Year prize and see where we might find some value.

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NBA DPOY Rankings

4. Anthony Davis (+2500)

Davis’ standard defensive numbers on the year look exceptional. His rebounds (10.2), steals (1.2) and blocks (2.1) are all within mere percentage points of his career averages and he is already at 1.5 defensive win shares after producing 2.4 last season. But he falls down the charts in advanced defensive metrics. He is not in the top ten in defensive rebound rate or defensive rating.

The other problem for Davis is he plays for a Lakers squad that has an unknown defensive identity. Their defensive rating is 11th in the league (107.2) but they are 24th in defensive rebound rate (71.9%) and they allow the fourth-most points in the paint this year (48.4). Those numbers conflict with Davis’s strong individual defensive presence, which will likely leave him on the outside looking in for the award.

Part of this is related to pace, but the Lakers allow the third-most points in the Western Conference (111.2 to opponents) and have been an enigma defensively.

3. Giannis Antetokuonmpo (+850)

The Bucks started the year with an elite stretch of defensive performances. In October/November, they ranked fourth in defensive rating in the NBA (104.0), but have slipped a bit to 10th in December (109.0). Much of that, of course, is attributed to the sheer number of games Milwaukee has lost from players like Brook Lopez and Donte Divencenzo. These players helped shape the strong defensive game-plan from the title run last year, and the Bucks simply need them back.

They will all be back, which means Giannis at +850 might be a sneaky place to invest since we know the team defense should take a couple of leaps forward in the future.

The Greek Freak’s per-36 numbers are simply ridiculous – 12.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.7 blocks. Plus, he has the highest defensive plus-minus (3.0) since he led the league in back-to-back seasons from 2019-2020. He might start making a push towards the Gobert territory of odds soon.

2. Rudy Gobert (+275)

The Stifle Tower is on the hunt for his second back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards. He won in 2018, 2019, and again last season. He is also a five-time all-defensive first-team member and is putting up stats right now that are even better than in those seasons.

Gobert leads the NBA in rebounding at 14.7 per game, which is also a career-high. His blocks are still elite at 2.1 per game and he is top-25 in defensive rating for all players above 25 minutes per game.

There are no metrics – individual or team – that would prevent Gobert from being a finalist for this award again. The biggest thing holding him back might just be award fatigue from the voters. Do they really want the same player to win four out of the past five years?

The Jazz have slipped ever so slightly in team defensive rating this year. They are down at fifth on the year after finishing top three in three of the past four years. What that has done is open the door for another team to take the crown as the best defensive squad. And they have several candidates who could take home the prize.

1. Draymond Green (+150)

The Warriors are simply defensive juggernauts this season. With a defensive rating of 100.2, they are more than three points better per 100 possessions than any other team in the league. Add in the fact that they possess the fourth-best offensive rating in the NBA and this is starting to look like the Golden State super-team of yesteryear. Oh yeah, and they still don’t have Klay Thompson and James Wiseman back yet.

Steph Curry leads the way for the offensive player of the year and MVP, but someone has to be rewarded for the stellar defensive work by the Warriors and the best candidate is Draymond Green. In just 30 minutes per night, Green is at 8.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals + blocks per game. He leads the NBA with 2.0 defensive win shares through two months and his 4.3 defensive plus-minus total is the highest of his career (and second in the NBA).

If the Warriors continue at this defensive pace this season (or actually get better!), it is an undeniable lock that someone from their team will win the award. Curry looks out of the picture despite his own defensive prowess this year, so my recommendation is to take the positive juice from the +150 and grab some shares before it shortens even more.  

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Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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