The NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award is one of the harder annual awards to win.
With the 2018-19 NBA season halfway behind us, the sample size for candidates is large enough to determine who’s leading the race, and who else is in the mix. Although new rules provide more freedom for offenses, we’ve seen some stellar defensive plays so far.
Let’s take a look at the top-five DPOY candidates to this point.
1. Anthony Davis:
Season stats: 28.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.6 blocks, 1.7 steals, 51% field goal, 32% 3PT, 3.8 DBPM, 2.3 DWS, 105 DRtg (per 100 possessions)
Defensive Highlight: Davis is the only player in the league in the top-10 in blocks and steals per game.
Regardless of all the “Anthony Davis to LA” trade rumors, his production on the court has not wavered. He continues to be an all-around beast, leading his team in points and rebounds per game.
You simply cannot score on AD. pic.twitter.com/x4l06phFim
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 10, 2019
Davis finished third in DPOY voting in the 2017-18 season and has himself right back in the conversation to win it all this season. The do-it-all swiss army knife big man seems to get better each season. Winning this award would be a decent accolade to add to the collection.
2. Paul George:
Season stats: 26.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.2 steals, 44% field goal, 38% 3PT, 1.4 DBPM, 2.9 DWS, 102 DRtg (per 100 possessions)
Defensive Highlight: George is second in the league in steals per game, first in total deflections (149) and first in defensive loose balls recovered (54).
Talk about a resurgence! His first season in OKC was full of ups and downs, and George has shown that he’s fully adapted. Along with the return of his defensive prowess, his offensive explosion has been impressive. Some even believe he’s making a case for Most Valuable Player.
The Thunder currently claim the third spot in the Western Conference standings, with many thanks to George’s team-leading 26.7 points-per-game.
He’s creating havoc on the defensive end, usually guarding the opposing team’s best player. This is the player everyone is used to seeing from his peak days in Indiana. He’s BACK!
3. Robert Covington:
Season stats: 13.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.1 steals, 1.3 blocks, 43% field goal, 37% 3PT, 2.2 DBPM, 1.7 DWS, 107 DRtg (per 100 possessions)
Defensive Highlight: Covington is third in the league in total steals behind OKC’s dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
New team? No problem! During his time in Philly, Covington was widely known as one of the premier “three-and-D” players in the game. Fast forward to his current situation in Minnesota, and that dog is still there.
He’s third in the league in deflections per game (3.6) and fifth in total deflections (127). You might want to think twice about throwing that soft pass with Covington in the vicinity.
4. Myles Turner:
Season stats: 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.8 blocks, 50% field goal, 39% 3PT, 4.7 DBPM, 2.1 DWS, 101 DRtg (per 100 possessions)
Defensive Highlight: Leads the Association in blocks per game and blocks per 48 minutes (4.8).
Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers have had a remarkable season through the halfway point. Nobody has talked about the progression of this team or Turner’s dominance in the paint this season. A top-five rim protector in the league, Turner recently broke his nose in a win against the Hawks.
He does not plan on letting the injury get in his way of playing. Turner’s defensive progression is an amazing sight for Pacers’ fans.
5. Joel Embiid:
Season stats: 26.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, two blocks, 48% field goal, 29% 3PT, 1.8 DBPM, 2.3 DWS, 104 DRtg (per 100 possessions)
Defensive Highlight: Fifth in the league in blocks per game.
Joel Embiid’s defensive presence is what separates him as an elite player in the league. In wins this season for Philly, Embiid has at least two blocks. The defensive rating is 101.9 when Embiid is on the floor. He is a dominant presence and has already started off January starting strong.
Check back in a few weeks for an update on our Defensive Player of the Year ladder.
This post was completed by Felix John-Baptiste and Cam Carter.