By Mark Strotman | | 6 mins
NBA Defensive Player Of the Year Odds & Betting Tips
It’s no surprise that Rudy Gobert tops the odds list here at betting sites and sportsbooks — he’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, his Jazz defense will again be near the top of the league and he’s won the award three times. If he’s able to win it again this year, he’ll join Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace as the only four-time winners. Gobert checks all the boxes here and will likely be the favorite to win all year long.
There are also two other previous winners on the NBA odds list. Giannis Antetokounmpo won after a dominant 2020 season and has plenty of momentum after his ridiculous defensive performance in the 2021 NBA Finals. Draymond Green is a two-time winner and the Warriors’ defense should be near the top of the list with a healthy Klay Thompson back in the mix.
Or, perhaps, we should be eyeing a first-time winner on their betting apps. Ben Simmons finished runner-up to Gobert in 2021 and actually received 15 first-place votes. Though his shooting is often the butt of jokes, he’s an elite defender who also finished fourth in 2020. Bam Adebayo finished fourth in 2021 (behind Gobert, Simmons, and Draymond Green) and has all the makings of a future All-NBA Defensive Team center.
2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds
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How to Bet NBA Defensive Player of the Year
Offense reigns supreme in today’s NBA, and “defense wins championships” rarely applies to the league these days. And yet, because of that, it makes the Defensive Player of the Year award all the more impressive to win.
Like all other aspects of NBA betting, there are usually a few things you can rely upon to help predict Defensive POTY. Here are four factors to consider when placing a bet on this award winner.
Big Men are Smart Bets
It might be a point guard’s league right now but not when it comes to this award. Defensive Player of the Year was first handed out in 1982, and five of the first six winners were shooting guards: Sidney Moncrief (twice), Alvin Robertson, Michael Cooper and Michael Jordan.
But since Michael Jordan won the award in 1989, only one of the next 31 winners through 2021 was a guard: point guard Gary Payton in 1996. Perhaps it’s because they don’t rack up the counting stats in rebounds or steals – or because they generally find themselves scoring more on the offensive end – guards just don’t win the award. Great defense, more often than not, requires great length, and guards just don’t provide it.
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that centers have dominated the voting. From 1989 to 2021, 29 of 33 Defensive Player of the Year winners were power forwards or centers. The two exceptions in that span were Payton in 1996, who we showed earlier bucked a long trend, and small forward Ron Artest in 2004 and Kawhi Leonard (2015 and 2016).
When in doubt, think big for Defensive Player of the Year. The game is getting smaller and faster, but there’s always going to be room for bigs who can defend. And more often than not, they’re the ones who take home the trophy. They may not have as big of roles on offense, but they still anchor great defenses (we’ll get to that later) and make the biggest impact on that end of the floor.
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Repeat Winners Happen Often
Because the award is somewhat niche – let’s face it, there aren’t a ton of elite defenders compared to the offensive talent we see in the league who win MVP, Most Improved Player, and Sixth Man of the Year –the same names pop up more often than not. And naturally, they tend to come in bunches. In fact, the first two seasons the award was handed out it went to the same player: Bucks guard Sidney Moncrief.
From 1993 to 2021, the award was handed out 29 times. And yet, only 15 different players won the award. That timeframe saw repeat award winners in Hakeem Olajuwon (twice), Dikembe Mutombo (four times), Ben Wallace (four times), Dwight Howard (three times) and Kawhi Leonard (two times). It happened again most recently in 2018, 2019 and 2021, when Jazz center Rudy Gobert took home the award in consecutive seasons. Notice all but Leonard were big men.
Defensive POTY Play on Elite Defenses
“Team defense” is a real thing. The best defenders don’t just do it themselves. they affect the five-man group. Defensive Player of the Year winners are on elite defenses. That may sound obvious, but consider just how good their collective defenses are.
From 2003 to 2021, of the 19 winners, all but one played for defenses that ranked in the top 5 in terms of efficiency. The only exception came in 2007, when Marcus Camby averaged 9.3 defensive rebounds and led the league with 3.3 blocks per game. The Nuggets ranked No. 13 in defensive efficiency. But besides him, the other 18 winners’ teams had an average defensive rank of 2.7 in the NBA.
Unlike Rookie of the Year bets, find a defense that’s going to be among the league’s best. And remember, we’re talking efficiency. Points per game allowed doesn’t always take pace into account. We’re looking at how many points per 100 possessions a team gives up. A great defense can be one that gives up points, so long as they play at a quicker pace.
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Defensive POTY Makes All-Star Games
The All-NBA Defensive Teams are annually littered with excellent defenders who don’t receive as much national attention. Some are certainly two-way players, but often they’re players who exert so much effort on defense that they don’t make as much of an impact on offense. That, of course, means those players are rarely All-Stars. After all, there are only 24 of them each year.
But the absolute best defenders are. To be the league’s best player on an entire half of the court is almost always recognized with an All-Star selection. From 1988 to 2011, 21 of the 24 Defensive Player of the Year award winners were also All-Star selections that same season.
The exceptions were Dennis Rodman, who had been an All-Star the year prior, Ben Wallace, who would become an All-Star the following season, and Marcus Camby, who continues to be an outlier for a handful of reasons.