Alex Boeder's NBA Awards Ballot: Defensive Player of the Year and All-Defensive Teams
Defensive Player of the Year
- Rudy Gobert
- Draymond Green
- Kawhi Leonard
As difficult as it is to evaluate individual defense (both via the eye-test and numbers) these seem quite clearly to be the three best individual defenders in the NBA. Great instincts, awareness, positioning, athleticism – they have everything you want from a behemoth center, cover-everyone type, and perimeter lockdown artist, respectively. No coincidence that they play for the three best defensive teams in the league.
All-Defense First Team
- C: Rudy Gobert
- F: Draymond Green
- F: Kawhi Leonard
- G: Jimmy Butler
- G: Chris Paul
Gobert, Green and Leonard are the easy picks. Butler is a tough, physical, handsy, smart (and opportunistic) defender. The Bulls are very good defensively with Butler (I believe he is listed as a guard/forward) on the court; not so much with him off. Paul remains one of the smartest and most tenacious players on both sides of the ball.
All-Defense Second Team
- C: Hassan Whiteside
- F: Robert Covington
- F: Giannis Antetokounmpo
- G: Tony Allen
- G: Marcus Smart
Whiteside (and the fifth-ranked Heat defense) beats out DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond, but all three have a case.
Most defensive metrics adore what Covington (fourth in the NBA in Defensive Real Plus-Minus for example) brings defensively. The 76ers moved up from 25th last season to 15th this season in defensive efficiency, and they are excellent on that end with Covington on the court. Giannis, you know what Giannis does, which is increasingly make the type of plays on defense that only LeBron makes. The Bucks as a team (and Giannis individually) have been up and down defensively, so it will be no surprise if he doesn’t make it. But his versatility, heavy responsibilities, and game-breaking plays make him a worthy candidate.
Smart is averaging 30+ minutes on the top team in the East while shooting 36.0 percent from the field. He is out there because he is pain to go against.
Tony Allen is not just still merely earning minutes by playing defense – he is averaging the most minutes of his career this season, by playing defense.
It is tough to leave off Avery Bradley, but he has been limited to 53 games. Others considered include Paul Millsap, Ricky Rubio, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jae Crowder, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.