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RUDY GOBERT (+350) UTAH JAZZ
For the first time since 2016-17, Rudy Gobert led the league in total blocks.
Last season, Gobert compiled 190 blocks and averaged 2.67 blocks per game.
In his career, Gobert has finished top four in total blocks six times in eight years. In addition to that, he finished top six in seven straight seasons and top four in six of eight for blocks per game.
The 7-foot-1 Frenchman posted the second-most blocks of his career last season (2016, 214 blocks) and the most blocks per game (2.7).
He has averaged at least 2.0 blocks per game every year since 2014-15 and totaled at least 129 blocks, which would have been good for fourth last season.
Gobert finished second in the NBA last for defensive rating (100.9) behind teammate Mike Conley (99.5). Gobert was on the floor for 4,613 possessions (20th-most) compared to Conley's 3,176.
Gobert more than likely would have been No. 1 if Conley saw the floor as much as Gobert did. Gobert also led the NBA in defensive rebounds per game (10.1) and total defensive rebounds (720), which could be the case again this year.
Utah's big man is the anchor of the defense, and as long as the Jazz remain a contender in the West, he should be top three in votes for this award.
Gobert won the award last season, marking his third victory and first since 2018-19. He won DPOY back-to-back seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. He was the fourth player in NBA history to win the award three times after edging Giannis Antetokounmpo last season.
Gobert joined elite company: Dikembe Mutombo (four times), Ben Wallace (four times) and Dwight Howard (three times). If he wins a fourth time, he will join Mutombo and Wallace as the only players to win four times.
Gobert has finished top three in DPOY voting every season since 2016-17, so naturally (which is boring), he is my favorite pick to win DPOY.
Here the odds via PointsBet for DPOY.
DRAYMOND GREEN (+1600) GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Draymond Green had an underrated season last year for the Warriors. On top of playing every position from point guard to center, he was one of the few players to truly make an impact in two key categories.
Out of the entire league, Green was one of three players to record at least 100 steals and 50 blocks.
Green also had 52 blocks, tying for 45th in the NBA, which may seem unimpressive, but he guarded the opposing team's best player, which sometimes was a perimeter player without Klay Thompson.
With Thompson back, Green can go back to playing his natural defense position and continue to dominate the opposition.
Part of Green's physicality includes foul trouble. He had the 10th-most fouls in the NBA last season (194), which helps his case, in my opinion. He is one of the few players left who plays with intensity on defense on each possession.
For 16-to-1 odds, Green has some value as the Warriors can vault themselves back into NBA Finals contention. Green won this award in 2016-17 over Gobert and finished sixth, sixth and third (last season) over the next four years.
There hasn't been any significant movement in the DPOY market, per NBC's future model, but I will assume there will be on one or more of these players before the season begins -- more than likely Gobert's odds shortening.
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JIMMY BUTLER (+3500) MIAMI HEAT
Jimmy Butler aka Jimmy Buckets is my longshot guy.
Last season, Butler finished second in total steals with 108 and led the league with 2.1 steals per game.
While he did not make any noise with his 18 blocks, Butler did finished eighth in the league with a 106.9 defensive rating for the Heat.
Butler only played 52 games last season, which will not cut it to be DPOY candidate, so we will need 70-plus games this year.
Butler has not played 70 or more games since 2016-17 with Chicago, so be weary with what reports say closer to the season about his health.
If he is feeling healthy and plans on playing, not resting throughout the season, Butler could be the main reason Miami's defense finishes top 10 in defensive net rating again.
That would give him an argument for his name in the hat for DPOY. There is value at 35-to-1 on Butler, but not enough to make me place a wager now.
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