The upcoming United States Election will be the most highly-watched event in modern American history, and is always a crucial topic for discussion. However, there are many different opinions about who should win which of the top 10 slots. This article ranks them based on their past voting record, current poll numbers and other factors that explain why they might have a chance at winning come 2021.
The “Nba mvp race 2022” is a question that will be answered in the next few years. The top 10 candidates for the 2021 edition of the NBA MVP race are as follows. Read more in detail here: nba mvp race 2022.
The league as a whole is seeing a drop in scoring. Recent rule changes have permitted for more physical play, and virtually every head coach has emphasized perimeter defense. In general, there are fewer free throw attempts per game and a significant reduction in three-point effectiveness compared to previous year.
Scoring increases TV ratings and sells seats. Nothing beats witnessing LeBron James, who weighs 250 pounds, slash into the lane like a 6-2 point guard for a monster slam. Similarly, fans flock to see Stephen Curry’s 40-foot step-back bombs in person.
Still, defense is in for 2021-2022, putting the league’s greatest defenders to the center of the discussion.
The top-10 nominees for the Defensive Player of the Year Award will then be ranked.
Mentions of Merit
The King James Version of the Bible
This season, defensive center Jarret Allen has been outstanding. His Cavaliers have the second-best defensive rating in the league, and he’s allowing 14.4 field goal attempts per game while completing 44.6 percent of his assignments. Only a year ago, Allen’s Cleveland team was ranked 25th in the league in terms of defense. A new face in Ohio (more on him later) has aided in the transformation of the Cavs into the defensive powerhouse we’ve witnessed throughout the fall and early winter, displacing Allen from our top-10.
NBC Sports contributed to this article.
In DEFRTG, the Chicago Bulls are ranked eighth in the NBA, and Alex Caruso is their top overall defender. Despite playing roughly half as many minutes as the other top-5 players, he leads the league in thefts per game and fourth in total deflections. However, the issue is a lack of playing time. Caruso is a bench player who plays fewer than 30 minutes every game, which drops him off of our rankings.
Paul George is number ten.
Featured image courtesy of USA TODAY Sports
Paul George is a classic defensive wing, weighing in at 6-8 220 pounds. Throughout his career, he has routinely taken on his team’s most difficult perimeter defensive assignment, and he has performed well.
This year is no exception.
Because to his propensity to bother opposition wings one-on-one, PG-13’s Clippers rank fourth in defensive rating. He’s suffocating his assignments, resulting in a 42.3 hit percentage from the field, and he’s defending 11.6 attempts per game, one of the league’s top numbers among wings.
Paul George takes satisfaction in being regarded as one of the world’s best two-way players. Because his running buddy, Kawhi Leonard, is absent due to injury this season, George is carrying a heavier offensive burden than he has in the past. Despite this, the former Fresno State standout continues to attack every defensive play. PG-13 wants to shut down his assignment, whether he’s defending LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, or Donovan Mitchell.
The Clippers lack a real playmaker on offense (starting PG Reggie Jackson is averaging 4.1 APG), and things have frequently turned into a slog on the enjoyable side of the ball for the Clippers, who are ranked 24th in 2021-2022. The defense has helped propel LA’s other club to a 16-14 record, good for fifth place in the Western Conference, thanks to Paul George’s zeal.
Paul George should move up our Defensive Player of the Year rankings if the Clippers finish in the top four in the West.
Deandre Ayton (nine)
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For the Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton has been a monster in the middle. He’s one of the few big men in the NBA with the size to defend the rim and the quickness to stop off drives in the lane by stepping out on the perimeter off a switch.
Ayton is contesting 12.7 shots per game (4th in the league), demonstrating his defensive prowess, but more importantly, he’s getting a hand up on shooters outside the arc 3.1 times a game, a significant improvement over last season.
Ayton isn’t a big center who can be game-planned against at 6-11 250 pounds. He can cover guards off a failed pick and roll or handle a wing in the mid-range with ease.
Deandre Ayton has helped the Suns put together one of the league’s finest defenses this season, making Phoenix management wish they had given him a premium deal during the summer.
Jimmy Butler (#8)
Jimmy Butler’s defensive numbers for the years 2021-2022 are comparable to Draymond Green’s; they aren’t terrific. Butler has allowed his assignments to shoot 0.8 percent better than their regular average in the early parts of the season, and according to Cleaning the Glass, the Heat are 0.7 points poorer per 100 possessions with him on the floor.
Also, like with Draymond Green, the figures do not reflect Jimmy Butler’s complete defensive value.
Overall, the Miami Heat are ranked 11th in defensive rating and third in points allowed per game (103.8). Even yet, given that their do-it-all-on-defense center, Bam Adebayo, has been sidelined for over two weeks, it’s evident that their effort on the less enjoyable end has been superb, and Jimmy Butler is the Heat’s motivator.
He has the second-highest usage rate on the squad, at 27.4 percent, and the highest point per game average (22.8). Despite his extensive offensive duties, Butler plays aggressively on every defensive possession. When his teammates watch him hustling through the discomfort in his legs by leaping out to open three-point shooters or bodying up big players in the lane, they want to do the same.
Jimmy Butler’s mentality, switchability, and willingness to man up every team’s best perimeter option propel him into our top-10, as well as giving the Heat a chance to win every night.
Evan Mobley is number seven.
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This season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been the NBA’s greatest surprise. They were a lottery club last year, and most analysts predicted that they would struggle again in 2021-2022. Instead, they’re in fourth place in an Eastern Conference that has suddenly become deep and skilled. Even more astonishing, they’ve put together a 19-12 record against the league’s fifth hardest schedule.
Almost all of their progress has come from the less enjoyable end. Last season, the Cavaliers were one of the league’s weakest defensive teams, ranking 25th out of 30 teams in defensive rating. This season, Cleveland has turned the script, rising to second in DEFRTG.
How did the Cleveland Cavaliers move from being a bad defensive team to a top-five defense with no roster turnover?
The lynchpin has been Evan Mobley, the lone rookie on our list.
For a huge guy, the former Trojan is long, fluid, and surprisingly nimble. He also grinds as hard as anybody in the league.
Mobley leads the NBA in disputed shots, the most important hustling metric. He’s running around the floor like a lunatic, swarming three-point shooters, wing mid-range shots, and all rim drives. He’s challenging 13.2 shots per game on average, and he’s motivated his teammates to give it their best on defense.
For years to come, Evan Mobley should be a staple in these Defensive Player of the Year lists.
Myles Turner, No. 6
9 Seconds, 8 Points
Myles Turner leads the NBA in blocks with 87, 21 more than Rudy Gobert, who is in second place. Turner is 15th in the league in disputed shots per game, at 10.4, and holds his assignments to a decent 47.1 field goal percentage.
When looking at advanced data, his on/off splits are among the best in the league. When Myles Turner is on the field, the Pacers’ defense improves by 3.1 points, putting him in the 68th percentile of all big players in the NBA.
Turner’s Defensive Player of the Year credentials has one obvious flaw. His Pacers have the poorest defensive rating in the NBA (108.5), the lowest of any player on our top-10 list. Turner isn’t flanked by mediocre defenders like Rudy Gobert or Anthony Davis, however. Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon, T. J. McConnell, and Chris Duarte guard Indiana’s perimeter, and all four are capable defenders.
Myles Turner is a fantastic help defender who is more than capable of cleaning up his teammates’ rim miscues. His issues stem from his one-on-one coverage, as he is often devoured by larger players in the lane. Giannis had a field day against Turner in recent defeats to the Bucks and Timberwolves, scoring 25 points on 10 for 15 shooting, while Karl-Anthony Towns scored 32 points against him.
Turner’s ability to change double-digit shots per game puts him in sixth place, but he’ll have to focus on shutting down his opponents if he wants to climb up higher.
Mikal Bridges, No. 5
Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton are the only two players in the top ten on our list.
Mikal Bridges has become as the league’s finest perimeter defender. Every night, he takes on the opposition team’s top guard or wing, restricting them to a dreadful 39.9% field goal percentage.
39.9% from the finest offensive perimeter weapons in the league!!!!!
He’s restricted James Harden to a 4 for 15 shooting performance this season, and he’s stopped MVP leader Stephen Curry from having his worst high volume shooting night ever (4 for 21).
Bridges’ Suns colleague Chris Paul, a famous defender in his own way, had this to say about the ballhawk:
“It doesn’t matter whether Mikal plays another game this year; he has to be on that All-Defensive team.” Mikal, every night, every night, man, Mikal, Mikal, Mikal, Mikal, Mikal, Mikal, Mikal, Mik Everything.”
Phoenix is ranked third in defensive rating and third in opponent points per 100 possessions, with a score of 104.4.
Mikal Bridges has demonstrated this season that he can lead his team to win by denying the other side’s greatest perimeter option. In his ability to lock down his guy on his own, he reminds me of a great cover corner in football (think Deion Sanders). When Bridges is on the floor, his teammates don’t have to worry about Curry’s gravity or Doncic’s initial stride in the lane, allowing them to concentrate on their task.
Anthony Davis, No. 4
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The Lakers’ perimeter defense was reduced early in the season due to injuries to LeBron James, Talon Horton-Tucker, Trevor Ariza, and Kendrick Nunn, making the Utah Jazz’s so-so collection of wings appear like all-world defenders. Frank Vogel has had to depend on defenders like Carmelo Anthony, Wayne Ellington, and Malik Monk (who has really improved on defense).
During the months of October and November, it seemed as though AD was responsible for protecting the whole side of the court on his own. He never pounded his feet or hung his head. He plunged in and gave it his all.
Anthony Davis and the Lakers have climbed the defensive ranks as reinforcements have come to assist.
Consider the Lakers’ past 10 games:
The Lakers are fourth in the NBA in defensive field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot 42.8 percent from the floor.
With a defensive rating of 104.2, the Lakers are fourth in the league.
In terms of opponent three-point field goal percentage, the Lakers rank 6th in the league (33.5 percent ).
After all the talk about how vulnerable the Los Angeles Lakers’ defense was to begin the season, they’re now ranked ninth in defensive rating, just a few decimal points shy of making the top five.
With 11.3 contested shots per game, Anthony Davis is sixth in the league. For the Lakers, he’s flown all over the court, guarding the perimeter, mid-range jumpers, and rim attempts, where he’s tied for third in blocks per game. It’s evident that, once completely healed, the Purple and Gold should be a top-5 defensive team, with AD as their greatest ball-stopper.
Anthony Davis has an MCL sprain in his knee, which will keep him out for at least a month. His ailment, however, has no bearing on his position in this edition of our rankings.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (#3)
Giannis has been named to the NBA All-Defensive team four times and has earned one Defensive Player of the Year Award.
In 2021-2022, the Greek Freak is back to his old pranks.
Following Giannis’s hard work, the Milwaukee Bucks have improved to sixth in the NBA in defensive rating after a poor start. Antetokounmpo despises losing, which is a common theme among our top three defenders, and this drives him to go all out on the less glamorous end.
Even though Giannis is a two-time MVP, he continues to work on every defensive play, a mindset that he instills in his teammates. When one of the greatest players in the world is digging in and disregarding the aching in his legs at the conclusion of a close game, how can a guy like Bobby Portis or Grayson Allen not compete on D?
If you watch a Bucks game, you’ll see Giannis motivating his teammates by springing out to open shooters below the arc (he defends 4.9 three-pointers per game), breaking up pick and roll moves near the rim, or racing to the basket and grabbing a defensive rebound. With 10.3 contested shots per game, The Greek Freak ranks 16th in the league, demonstrating his game-to-game effort and ability to cover the whole floor as a defender.
In the end, Giannis may not be able to beat off Gobert or Green for the title of greatest defender in the league, but he should be a certainty to make another NBA All-Defensive team.
Draymond Green (#2)
The Golden State Warriors have a 100.5 defensive rating, almost three points better than the second-place Cleveland Cavaliers, making Draymond Green the greatest defender on the league’s most stingy club.
The numbers aren’t on Green’s side. According to Cleaning the Glass, with Draymond on the floor, the Warriors have given up +0.8 points per possession, putting him in the 55th percentile among big men. His defensive field goal % is sixth among among regular Warriors rotation players, while his defensive rating ranks 12th on his own team.
You have to toss the numbers out now and again.
What figure would you use to describe how he leads the Warriors’ defense? Or the swagger and passion he takes to the less glamorous end of the spectrum?
Advanced statistics can’t measure Draymond Green’s influence.
Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr., Andrew Wiggins, and Stephen Curry, Green’s colleagues on defense, have been outstanding. Despite this, the former Michigan State player is the backbone of the Warriors’ top-ranked defense.
Draymond Green is the league’s most versatile player, outperforming great defenders like as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, and Bam Adebayo. He has no difficulty shutting down an All-Star point guard beyond the three-point line before muscling a mammoth center out of his favored post-up area.
Green is perhaps the league’s most ferocious defender. When a player scores on Rudy Gobert, he hates it, but one gets the impression that when Draymond has a bad day on D, he keeps it with him for months, allowing it to burrow deep within him and fuel him to go a bit harder.
Green may easily win some silverware at the end of the year if the Warriors continue to outperform the rest of the NBA in team defense for the remainder of the season.
Rudy Gobert, No. 1
The Utah Jazz are now ranked eighth in the NBA in defensive rating, and one shudders to imagine where they would be if Rudy Gobert were to leave. The perimeter defenders around the Stifle Tower are uninteresting.
Here’s how it works:
Mike Conley is allowing his assignments to shoot 0.3 percent below average.
Jordan Clarkson’s assignments are shooting 1.3 percent higher than the national average.
Donovan Mitchell’s assignments are shooting 4.8 percent better than the industry average.
Rudy Gay’s assignments are shooting 6.5 percent better than the industry average.
Bojan Bogdanovic’s assignments are shooting 6.8% better than the national average.
With 18.4 field goal attempts per game, Gobert leads the league in defending field goal attempts, and he holds any player that enters his area to an amazing 40.6 percent, second among all centers (minimum 15 games played to clear out the noise).
The French Rejection makes more errors than any other player in the NBA, protecting the rim like a mother tiger keeping a horde of wolves at bay. When they dig in on defense, Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, and Bojan Bogdanovic are outstanding on the offensive side of the ball, helping Utah develop a historically strong offense, yet they are beaten off the dribble or bullied on the perimeter. The sole difference between the Jazz being a top-10 defensive team and placing somewhere in the bottom-10 is Gobert’s ability to modify jumpers in the lane.
Gobert has appeared in each of Utah’s 27 games, which is significant, but his mindset is much more so. He is completely devoted to the less enjoyable end of the spectrum. When an opposition player scores on him, you’ll witness him slap his hands in frustration. When even the most gifted guards manage to make a layup in his domain, the Frenchman becomes enraged.
Gobert has the necessary defensive statistics and mentality. In 2021-2022, he was the league’s top defender.
Defense Remains Crucial
The NBA’s particular offensive weapons have gotten a lot of attention in their current incarnation. Even yet, in 2021-2022, the ancient saying “defense wins championships” resonates truer than ever.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are the lone exception, as nine of the top ten defensive teams in the NBA are presently in postseason contention. The top two three-point shooting teams in the East, the Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks, have failed to get stops and are on the outside looking in for a top-six spot.
Our top-ten defenders will definitely continue to give their all on the less enjoyable end of the field, assisting their teams in earning victories the hard way, and one of them will be named Defensive Player of the Year at the conclusion of the season.