NBA award ballots: MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and more

Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images) /

NBA award ballots: Defensive Player of the Year

Christopher Kline

  1. Rudy Gobert, UTH
  2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
  3. Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM

Rudy Gobert is still the most dominant defender in the NBA. No player alters the opposing team’s offensive approach quite like Gobert. The Jazz have surrounded Gobert with consistently poor perimeter defenders, making his job difficult and hindering Utah’s overall performance. But, when push comes to shove, Gobert’s ability to keep the Jazz afloat despite the crumbling defensive structure around him deserves immense credit. He’s also the best defensive rebounder in the game, aside from maybe Nikola Jokic.

Giannis deserves credit, even in a season where he played significant stretches out of position at the five spot. Nobody can roam like Antetokounmpo, who uses his Stretch Armstrong wingspan and unmatched strength to swallow offensive possessions whole. Jaren Jackson Jr. was the NBA’s most prolific shot-blocker and stands at the center of Memphis’ elite defense.

Lucas Johnson

  1. Marcus Smart, BOS
  2. Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM
  3. Mikal Bridges, PHX

For the first time since Gary Payton, I choose a guard in Marcus Smart as the player to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. Before going into consideration for this award, I promised myself two things. One, a Boston Celtics players was going to win it and two, Rudy Gobert wasn’t going to make my top three.

I kept both of these promises but figuring out which Celtics player was going to win was tricky. However, with Smart being the spearhead of their defense and Robert Williams missing the end of the regular season, the decision made itself. Mikal Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. both have legit cases, but Smart’s energy and leadership can’t be denied on that end of the court.