2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds Update: Rudy Gobert and Draymond Green Battle at the Top


December 1, 2021

We’re roughly a quarter of the way through the NBA season, so it’s only fitting to check in on how things are progressing in terms of the Defensive Player of the Year award. Before the season, I highlighted five players that offered some value to win the prize, so let’s take a moment to review how those selections stack up thus far.

Before we dive into our analysis, here are a few things worth noting regarding the history of the award:

  • Previous winners often won it on multiple occasions. Last year’s winner, Rudy Gobert, won it for the third time in his career. He’s finished top three in the voting in each of the past six seasons.
  • Since the award was introduced in 1983, ten players have won it more than once. Furthermore, four players have won it at least three times. That limits the number of players who have a legitimate chance to win the award. Those winners also tend to play in the frontcourt as the last guard to win the prize was Gary Payton in 1996.

For a complete list of players who could be in contention, head over to FanDuel Sportsbook, where you can find daily updated odds for this award and others throughout the regular season.

  • Rudy Gobert +380 to +210
  • Ben Simmons +500 to +24000
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo +700 to +1000
  • Bam Adebayo +1600 to +800
  • Draymond Green +2500 to +240

Rudy Gobert +210

This is where our knowledge of the history of this award comes into play, as it’s not uncommon to see repeat winners. Before the start of the season, Gobert was available at +380, but now he has the shortest odds of any player at +210. The Jazz big man has played in 21 games thus far and is posting career-highs in defensive rebounds (11.6) and total rebounds (14.6) per game. Gobert is still averaging at least two blocks per game though he remains slightly off last year’s pace (2.7). However, there’s no question his commitment’s been very stout on the defensive end as he’s also averaging one steal per game, which would also be a career-high. Judging by these numbers, it’s clear to see why Gobert is the current favorite at the moment.


Ben Simmons +24000

Simmons campaigned for the DPOY award last season, and there’s no question he felt slighted by the voters after he didn’t win it. With him possibly being overlooked, I thought that would serve as motivation this season, but Simmons couldn’t be further from appearing in an actual NBA game at the moment. I’m surprised there are odds still available on him, but it’s fair to say that his chances at the moment are slim to none.

Giannis Antetokounmpo +800

The Milwaukee Bucks got off to a bit of a slow start this season, and it was only a few weeks ago that they were 6-8 on the year. However, they now have the second-longest winning streak (7) in the league, behind only the Suns (17) at the moment. Defensively, the team ranks 10th in efficiency as they’re allowing 103.2 points per 100 possessions. That certainly bodes well for Antetokounmpo’s chances if the Bucks continue to stymie their opponents.

I think the current price on Antetokounmpo is just about right. While he’s certainly playing well defensively, I don’t think it’s at the level of Gobert.

Antetokounmpo’s averaging 10.0 defensive rebounds and 11.8 total boards per game. Both are an improvement from last year, but neither are career-bests. However, he has done well to average 1.8 blocks per game which is just short of his career-high in the 2016-17 season when he averaged 1.9 swats. He’s also averaging 1.1 steals per game which is slightly off last season’s pace (1.2).

I wouldn’t rule him out just yet by any stretch so let’s revisit his numbers at the midway point.

Bam Adebayo +800

It’s always good when you have closing line value, but I must admit that I’m less enthused about Adebayo’s prospects of winning this award. He’s averaging 7.4 defensive rebounds and 10.2 total rebounds per game, which are less than Gobert and Antetokounmpo. He’s also blocking very few shots (0.3) per game compared to last season (1.0). However, he does continue to have active, hands-on defense with 1.1 steals per game. It could work against Adebayo in that not all of his defensive numbers are career-best. I also think his odds should be a bit longer, and that’s why I think the other contenders on the list have much better upside than he does at the moment.

Draymond Green +240

There’s always the chance of voters starting to have some fatigue with picking the same player each year, and that’s why Green emerged as my top value play. Given how the Warriors retooled their team by getting younger, it was clear that defense would be a focal point in their overall strategy this season. I thought Green offered some value because Klay Thompson is due to return at some point shortly. Naturally, that would alleviate some of Green’s offensive responsibilities.

The former Spartan is a big reason why the Warriors lead the league in defensive efficiency. Opponents are scoring just 97.5 points in 100 possessions, and Golden State is tied for the best record in the league at 18-3. The Warriors’ defensive dominance is something I think will be difficult for voters to overlook, particularly if they finish with the best regular-season record.

If you’re using the box scores as a way to measure his impact, you’d probably be quick to disregard him. After all, he’s averaging 6.7 defensive rebounds and 8.0 total rebounds per game. He’s also chipping in with 0.9 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. It’s more about the eye test with Green than anything else. Moreover, with a bit of Gobert fatigue, he’s certainly a legitimate contender if Golden State continues on this impressive defensive run.

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Thumbnail photo via Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

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