The best defensive player on the best defensive team
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the DPOY debate is that Giannis isn’t considered a potential runaway winner for the award.
Unlike the MVP race where James Harden has put up historic numbers to stay in the conversation with Giannis for the league’s top honor, the Greek Freak owns many of the factors and categories that have determined the winners of the DPOY award in recent history.
For example, the last time the DPOY was not from a team ranked in the top two spots in the league in defensive rating was the 2011-2012 season. Since then, every winner has led his team to a top-two spot in this category.
The Bucks are the proud owners of the league’s best defensive rating at present, and have been in possession of that top spot for the majority of the season.
Giannis’ main competitors for this award: Rudy Gobert, Paul George, Joel Embiid, and Marcus Smart all fall short of this level of team defensive success, which is something that has been central to this award in recent years. When team stats are combined with Giannis’ aforementioned individual numbers, his case for the award becomes even clearer.