While rules changes have led to more scoring in the NBA, it is still defense that wins championships. Just ask the Toronto Raptors, last year’s NBA champ. It pays to have players that can double as outstanding defenders. The typical online sportsbook isn’t even thinking about the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but we are. Here’s a look at the Top 5 players who will contend for the league’s award given to its best defender.

Any talk of the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year begins with the 7-foot-1-inch Gobert. Along with Kawhi Leonard, Gobert is one of just ten players in NBA history who have won the DPOY at least twice. Gobert has won the last two and is the odds on favorite to win it a third straight time. Last year, Gobert set career highs in scoring (15.9 ppg), rebounds (12.9 rpg), and assists (2.0 apg). With his 7-foot-9-inch wingspan, Gobert blocked 2.3 shots per game and helped Utah give up just 106.5 points per game, the fourth-best mark in the NBA. At just 27 years of age, Gobert is hitting his prime and with another year like last will certainly contend for the NBA’s DPOY.

In the past five seasons, the only player other than Gobert and Leonard to win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award is Green (2017). The quintessential role player, Green does everything well. He can score when needed. He’s an excellent rebounder (6.9 rpg last year), and he’s usually among the league leaders in steals. Surrounded by a wealth of scoring stars, Green is the one Warriors player that continually draws an opponent’s best scorer. He will do so again in 2019-20 and another Warriors' run deep in the postseason would certainly help Green’s cause.

The Clippers’ odds to win the NBA title improved drastically with the acquisition of Leonard and new teammate Paul George. Leonard was last year’s NBA Finals MVP leading Toronto to its first-ever NBA title. Leonard is one of the game’s best two-way players and is familiar with the Defensive Player of the Year award. He won it in consecutive seasons back in 2015 and 2016. Last season, Leonard averaged a career-high 26.6 points per game – 30.5 per game in the NBA Finals – as well as a career-best 7.3 rebounds per game and 1.8 steals per game. Leonard’s defense will definitely be noticed in the higher-scoring Western Conference.

The Clippers defense should improve immensely with both Leonard and George now on the roster. George had an MVP-like season last year in Oklahoma City averaging a career-high 28.0 points per game. He also led the entire NBA in steals with 2.2 per game. While he may be overshadowed by Leonard, George is a force on both ends. His athleticism and 6-foot-9-inch frame make him a strong candidate for next year’s DPOY.

In a new city and new uniform, is it possible Anthony Davis can be even better? Now a Los Angeles Laker alongside LeBron James, Davis is a career 23.7-point, 12.0-rebound a game guy. Like Gobert, Davis has a tremendous wingspan (7-foot-6-inches) which helps him in his defensive play. Davis has led the NBA in blocked shots in three separate seasons and had a career-high 1.6 steals per game last season. In a new environment, Davis could become the league’s premier defensive player. 

About the Author

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.

When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.

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