DPOY recording as NBA season approaches quarter point


At the start of each new season, it’s always difficult to hold back reactions to the surprising events that unfold early on.

While exciting that Rudy Gobert caught over 20 boards in his first two regular season games, or disappointing that Jazz fell in the last 10 by 3P%, history has taught us to take a deep breath and let a few more games unfold.

But we’re nearing the point where enough of the season has passed to start deducting its impact on the rest of the season, and there’s no better place to start than with the rewards.

Just as the “Eternal MVP Candidate” is thrown at guys like LeBron, Durant, Giannis, Steph and Jokic, the most enduring of the award contenders is Rudy Gobert with Defensive Player of the Year.

Rudy receives the 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year award in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak / NBAE via Getty Images

Gobert has been in the top 3 in DPOY votes for 5 consecutive years and has won the award in 3 of the last 4 seasons.

With 20% of the season on the books, it’s time to assess the candidates for this year’s award and make inferences about how the rest of the season will play out.

As always, we’ll be looking at 3 main categories: Bettors, Advanced Metrics, and Storytelling.

Odds creators

We start with the bettors because they have the most to lose and gain by doing things right.

Last year, as the national media trumpeted people like Ben Simmons, punters pointed out Gobert as the field favorite. And it turned out that Rudy received 84% of the votes in first place.

The truth is, most don’t have the skin in the game to predict the outcome, so it’s important to scale our analysis accordingly.

This year, punters expect a tighter race than last year at this point:

Top 10 ranked NBA DPOY odds and levels
Odds with OddShark, Covers and Sports Betting Dime | Visual thanks to Adam Bushma, SLC Dunk

There is a gentle two-man race between Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis, with a level 2 composed of Bam Adebayo and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Although Gobert is the consensus favorite, his lead is by no means secure or favored against the field.

Advanced metrics

Advanced metrics are an important part of this analysis because they give us an indication of impact sooner than what can be determined by about 15 movie sets or standard numbers.

They are labeled as “advanced” because they take into account luck adjustments, independence of teammates, and a system at the appropriate scale.

As was beautifully detailed last year by FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Dowsett last season, they rarely line up perfectly, but can still indicate whose early performances validate the odds and are worthy of any narrative around them.

Top 10 NBA DPOY Advanced Metrics and Tiers (minimum 30 mpg)
metrics with FiveThirtyEight, Basketball Reference and Dunks & Threes | Visual thanks to Adam Bushman, SLC Dunk

As much as 20% of the season seems substantial, nothing says “it’s still too early” to see ESPN, B-Ball Index and NBA Shot Charts keep their metrics unpublished.

However, with the 3 metrics we have, several players stand out.

Only 3 players are in the top 10 of each metric: Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert and Jarrett Allen.

Some surprising players are Jae Crowder, Derrick White and Kentavius ​​Caldwell-Pope. This is an indication that the sources of unpublished advanced metrics are right to be still ahead.

Surprisingly, Draymond Green, Myles Turner, and Anthony Davis are under-represented in these metrics.


Stories from the national media and local fan bases are the most riddled source of errors. They are highly biased and largely based on too small a sample size.

However, the narrative framing is powerful and enough to land a handful of player awards that look questionable in retrospect. Once a narrative is formed, confirmation bias is difficult to counter.

With the young season at this point, the narratives are still slow to build.

Last night’s comeback victory over Detroit, led by Anthony Davis’ play on both ends, was a feather in its cap for DPOY.

The Warriors’ No.1 ranked defense has a lot of people who remember special defenseman Draymond Green. His trainer wants everyone to know what he should be doing at the end of the year.

While most agree that Rudy Gobert deserves to be recognized and represented in the awards vote each year, “voter fatigue” is consistently cited as a concern as to why he wouldn’t win, despite opposing teams giving him votes. major accessories this year.

Narratives will be built throughout the year and influenced somewhat by bettors and advanced metrics.

Even though the narratives seem loud, they should still be validated by the other two categories we looked at.


There seems to be a consistent player in all three perspectives: Rudy Gobert. As loud as the rumor of “voter fatigue” as he pursues his 4th prize in 5 seasons, the analysis confirms why he is and should lead the way.

The threats to their victory are that Utah Jazz find themselves outside the league’s top 5 defenses and see the team behaving badly against offensive 5-man lineups.

Miami Heat vs. Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert defends rim against two-pronged attack from Caleb Martin and Bam Adebayo
Photo by Jeff Swinger / NBAE via Getty Images

Anthony Davis, Draymond Green and Bam Adebayo are the second most likely level. Each has different points to their DPOY box and other drawbacks.

For Davis, the threats to his victory are his usual 3 “meh” matches for 1 stellar performance (not to mention a team defense ranked 23rd).

For Draymond, the biggest threat is the looming schedule featuring a significant number of the league’s best offensives. In addition, players with less than 30 minutes per game never participate in the vote.

For Adebayo, he has it all. But, he shares the floor with dark horse contender Jimmy Butler and excellent defenders in Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker. Last year, Ben Simmons was injured by compatriot Joel Embiid and defensive stalwarts Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green.

We will come back to the Defensive Player of the Year candidacy as the season progresses. If Gobert is showing well in all 3 categories, there is enough variety to keep the race tight.


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