Defensive Player of the Year – Rudy Gobert
Although Rudy Gobert was the runner-up in the Jazz MVP race, there’s absolutely no questioning where he ought to finish on the Utah Defensive Player of the Year ballot – a unanimous first place. Gobert showed his dominance on that end of the floor this season by leading the league in blocks (2.6) and constantly making life difficult for opposing teams by stunting opposing offenses at the rim and altering countless shots.
For a quick rundown of his impressive 2016-17 stats, look no further than this tweet from Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey:
With those kind of numbers, it’s no coincidence that not only is Rudy the clear Defensive Player of the Year among his Jazz teammates, but also has a legitimate shot of earning the league award in that aforementioned show at the end of June.
He may have a hard time beating out the much more well known Draymond Green, but anyone who says Gobert doesn’t at least deserve consideration as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year is absolutely mistaken.
The following quote from the Stifle Tower himself perfectly describes what he does so well defensively and why his enormous impact on all five of his opponents on the court at a time make him worthy of DPOY honors:
"“Draymond [Green] is great at guarding multiple positions and switching, but for myself, I impact people that I’m not guarding. You know? When I’m out there and one of the guards has the ball, I’m not the primary defender but he knows that if he drives, I’m going to be there.”"
Rudy has developed a knack for shutting down opponents at the rim and even getting in their heads despite not necessarily being their primary defender. And that, my friends, is an incredible feat.
It almost feels unnecessary to assign a runner-up given how dominant Gobert was in this category, but if I had to, I’d give it to Joe Ingles who transformed his game so that he could turn into one of the more prolific wing/perimeter defenders in the league and arguably the best such player on the team.
Runner-up – Joe Ingles