Airtight defense, rugged hustle, and lots of heart are needed to earn the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. The player needs to be a beast that the rest secretly fear running into when they’re blocking the basket. From Dennis Rodman to Hakeem Olajuwon to Ben Wallace, and so on, the players that are given this honor are all a menace on the hardwood. When they’re on the floor, it’s their house, and they’re going to defend it restlessly. There are many potential candidates that could snatch Defensive Player of the Year, but here are five that truly deserve the honor:
1. DeAndre Jordan
Jordan really blossomed well overall this season, and has shown his ability to be consistent through the tutelage of coach Doc Rivers. He’s making a real case for himself for Defensive Player of the Year with his hustle and shot-altering presence. Jordan leads the league in rebounds per game, snatching 13.8 a contest, and he also checks in with 2.4 swats per game, good enough for fourth in the league. He’s a prolific rebounder, and definitely makes players think twice before driving down the lane, since they just might run into a block party.
2. Paul George
George has truly developed as an overall player, and has become one of the premier small forwards in the league today. Since he has talent on both ends, some may tend to forget just how good he is on defense. He’s a significant reason that the Indiana Pacers are the number one defensive team in the NBA, as he holds up pretty well clamping down on some of the elite offensive threats in the league, including LeBron James. PG-24 reminds many of a man that was a nightmare on the defensive end back in the day – the one and only Scottie Pippen. NBA legend Larry Bird recognizes the man’s talent too, as he told ESPN, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone Paul’s size defend like he does. It’s unbelievable.” There’s only word for his defense: unforgivable.
3. Jimmy Butler
Butler is a player that makes the man he’s defending experience just as tough a time scoring as he had growing up with overwhelming obstacles. Just like Paul George, Butler is an amazing athlete with quick reflexes that can hold a man down like a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Butler takes on the opposing team’s top scorer every time, and he does so with success on most nights. He ranks fourth in the league in steals per game, robbing teams an average of two times per contest. When it comes to defense, hard work and dedication is what Butler serves every time.
4. Patrick Beverley
When it comes to Patrick Beverley, numbers just don’t do his defense any justice. Beverley plays annoying, physical defense that truly irritates players. He pushes, flops and ties you up, but he does get results by doing so. His brand of defense is almost like a throwback to 90s, or even 80s, basketball, and it’s very welcoming in a league where refs can be whistle-happy. When people think of Beverley, they think of his tenacious on-ball defense that just doesn’t let up. Beverley is effective, and he may just be a Dennis Rodman fan, a player that made a career out of his defensive savvy, earning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards.
5. Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah is one of the best centers in the league with his tenacious effort on defense, as well as his solid contribution on the offensive end. The man is simply a work horse on the hardwood, contesting shots and snatching rebounds with fire coursing through his veins. Numbers only tell a part of the story, but his numbers are pretty to say the least: 12.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game. Focusing on his defensive prowess, the man picks up on loose ends and locks players down one-on-one. Noah is simply hustle personified. He’s always in the conversation when it comes to Defensive Player of the Year, and this year it seems they’re talking about him the loudest. NBA Hall of Famer Kevin McHale even agrees. Noah is also an essential part of why the Chicago Bulls, even with the odds against them this season, have managed to earn the second spot in defensive efficiency.
So, who’s going to get the honor? We’ll just have to wait and see about that, but these five players all deserve it.
Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.