The NBA has released its awards finalists for the 2021-2022 season. The NBA Defensive Player of the Year will go to the player that demonstrates outstanding defensive ability as well as the defensive stats to back it up. The finalists for the awards this year are Mikal Bridges from the Phoenix Suns, Rudy Gobert for the Utah Jazz and Marcus Smart for the Boston Celtics.
Bridges is a small forward that started every regular season game for the Suns. He averaged 3.3 defensive rebounds, 0.4 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. Gobert has won the DPOY award three times in his career including in 2021. This season, he played in 66 games and averaged 11.1 defensive rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 0.7 steals per game. Smart is at a disadvantage for the award as a guard hasn’t won DPOY since 1996. Even so, this season he averaged 3.2 defensive rebounds, 0.3 blocks and 1.7 steals per game in 71 games played.
Gobert is likely the favorite as he has won the award in three of the last four years. At this rate, the NBA may eventually name the award for him to give others a chance.