This past season finally sparked some life back into the betting market for Defensive Player of the Year, with many getting a nice payout on Marcus Smart. This far away from the season is the time to look at some long shots in the awards markets where the circumstances surrounding a certain player could change, or a leap in skills/production is expected.
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Defensive Player of the Year Bets
*Lines accurate at time of publication
Myles Turner +5000 (DraftKings)
With so much about awards voting being subjective, it helps to look at the historical trends to try and find any sort of criteria to work off of. In the last 10 years, seven of the winners have been bigs: Gobert x3, Giannis, Draymond Green (often functionally a center), Joakim Noah and Marc Gasol. In each of the last 10 years, all of the defenses the winner has been on, have finished top two in defensive rating on Cleaning the Glass. In terms of team success, the winner’s team has been lower than fifth in their conference only once.
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How this relates to Myles Turner, who is stuck in a rebuilding situation in Indiana is a fair question. Monday morning on ESPN’s Get Up, Brian Windhorst mentioned that the Pacers are close to either signing Suns restricted free agent center DeAndre Ayton to an offer sheet or doing a sign and trade with Phoenix. Since free agency rumbling started, there had been mentions of Indiana and Phoenix discussing a deal based around Ayton and Turner.
Putting Turner in that new context provides value to this number. Giving Turner +5000 in his current situation shows respect to his defensive abilities because everything around him in Indiana gives him zero shot of winning the award. The Suns finished third in defensive rating last year and they were the top seed in the West, so those criteria boxes would likely be checked again this season.
Turner finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2019 and has been one of the top shot blockers in the game. In the past four years, Turner has averaged 2.7 blocks per game, the last winner of the award to exceed that in a single season was Dwight Howard in 2010. Turner’s mobility has been a plus in his game as well because when switched out on the perimeter, he does well to keep ball handlers within arm’s reach, to give him a chance to alter shots. Last year, the Pacers were 6.7 points per 100 possessions better defensively when Turner was on the floor, that mark is in the 93rd percentile for bigs per Cleaning the Glass.
The big question for Turner when he is on the court is his rebounding. Turner averaged 7.1 rebounds last season and only 6.8 in the last four. The value of defensive rebounding has been questioned around the league the last few seasons but when discussing Defensive Player of the Year, that is a number that is untenable. In the seven seasons in the last decade when a big has won the award in the last decade, the player with the lowest rebound average was Marc Gasol at 7.8. Gasol had Zach Randolph poaching rebounds from him and in Indiana, Turner had Domantas Sabonis focusing on the boards. In the world where a move to Phoenix happens, it will be the first time Turner will not consistently have another big starting next to him, possibly allowing him to get more of the stat-padding rebounds to keep him in contention for the award. If the trade went down, Turner’s odds would drop considerably, so taking a stab before the move happens makes plenty of sense.
Risk: .2 units on DraftKings to win 10 units. (Playable to +4000, pre-trade)
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