Marcus Smart, Rudy Gobert among NBA Defensive Player of the Year candidates

Smart, Gobert headline NBA Defensive Player of the Year candidates originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Who doesn’t love a good defensive play?

From timely swats, picking pockets to lockdown clamps, watching NBA players shine on the defensive end can be mesmerizing. 

Last season, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart edged Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges for the Defensive Player of the Year award, becoming just the sixth ever guard to do so. 

As the 2022-23 NBA regular season approaches, let’s take an early look at who the top candidates are for the Defensive Player of the Year honor:

Who is the best defensive player in the NBA?

The answer here is certainly up for debate, as stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Draymond Green deserve a mention after Smart’s award win last year. However, a certain defensive star who just got traded this summer is looking to win the award for a record-tying fourth time. 

Here’s a look at the top 10 players with the best odds to claim the defensive throne this season, with all odds courtesy of our betting partner, PointsBet:

  • Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves: +350

  • Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat: +600

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks: +1000

  • Robert Williams III, Boston Celtics: +1200

  • Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors: +1200

  • Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns: +1400

  • Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: +1600

  • Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers: +1600

  • Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics: +2000

  • Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers: +2000

How many Defensive Player of the Year awards does Rudy Gobert have?

Gobert, who was dealt to the Timberwolves from Utah this past summer, has won three DPOY awards (2018, 2019, 2021). If he wins it in 2023, he’ll tie the record held by two former players.

Who has the most Defensive Player of the Year awards in NBA history?

Dikembe Mutombo (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001) and Ben Wallace (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006) have each won the award a record four times. Dwight Howard, currently a free agent, has won three (2009, 2010, 2011) in a tie for second place with Gobert.

Has Kawhi Leonard ever won Defensive Player of the Year?

As he returns to the court for the first time since missing the entire 2021-22 campaign with a partial ACL tear, Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is looking to remind everyone of his defensive acumen. After all, he’s nicknamed “The Klaw” for a reason. 

Leonard has two DPOY awards to his name, which came in back-to-back years (2015, 2016) when he was a member of the San Antonio Spurs.

Has Ben Simmons ever won Defensive Player of the Year?

Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons has developed a reputation for being substandard offensively, particularly with his scoring, but he’s a feisty defender who can guard 1-through-5. Simmons has never won the DPOY award, however, but came second in 2021 behind Gobert. 

Every Defensive Player of the Year winner in NBA history

Here’s a year-by-year look at every DPOY winner since the awarding began after the 1982-83 campaign:

  • 2021-22 — Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

  • 2020-21 — Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz 

  • 2019-20 — Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks 

  • 2018-19 — Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz 

  • 2017-18 — Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz 

  • 2016-17 — Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

  • 2015-16 — Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

  • 2014-15 — Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

  • 2013-14 — Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

  • 2012-13 — Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies

  • 2011-12 — Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks

  • 2010-11 — Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

  • 2009-10 — Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

  • 2008-09 — Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

  • 2007-08 — Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics

  • 2006-07 — Marcus Camby, Denver Nuggets

  • 2005-06 — Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

  • 2004-05 — Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

  • 2003-04 — Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers

  • 2002-03 — Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

  • 2001-02 — Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

  • 2000-01 — Dikembe Mutombo, Philadelphia 76ers

  • 1999-00 — Alonzo Mourning, Miami Heat

  • 1998-99 — Alonzo Mourning, Miami Heat

  • 1997-98 — Dikembe Mutombo, Atlanta Hawks

  • 1996-97 — Dikembe Mutombo, Atlanta Hawks

  • 1995-96 — Gary Payton, Seattle SuperSonics

  • 1994-95 — Dikembe Mutombo, Denver Nuggets

  • 1993-94 — Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets

  • 1992-93 — Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets

  • 1991-92 — David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs

  • 1990-91 — Dennis Rodman, Detroit Pistons

  • 1989-90 — Dennis Rodman, Detroit Pistons

  • 1988-89 — Mark Eaton, Utah Jazz

  • 1987-88 — Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

  • 1986-87 — Michael Cooper, Los Angeles Lakers

  • 1985-86 — Alvin Robertson, San Antonio Spurs

  • 1984-85 — Mark Eaton, Utah Jazz

  • 1983-84 — Sidney Moncrief, Milwaukee Bucks

  • 1982-83 — Sidney Moncrief, Milwaukee Bucks

Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.