Offense and scoring the basketball is the name of the game, but it has been proven time and time again that defense wins NBA championships.
In fact, 9 of the last 10 teams that have hoisted the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy into the air ranked inside the Top-10 for Defensive Rating the season in which they won the NBA Finals, with the only exception being the Golden State Warriors in 2018, who ranked 11th in Defensive Rating.
One player alone cannot win a championship for a team on the defensive end of the court, but you have to start somewhere, and having the Defensive Player of the Year on your team definitely does not hurt!
The list of past award recipients features a lot of All-Star names like Rudy Gobert, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Draymond Green, and Kawhi Leonard, but not many players have won Defensive Player of the Year and an NBA Championship in the same season.
Could we see somebody break this streak during the 2021-22 season?
All the players featured on this list to come are all on teams with high playoff aspirations and some of them are on teams classified as “favorites” to win a title, so let’s take a look at the early Top-5 candidates to win the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
#5 Anthony Davis – Los Angeles Lakers
Coming off a season in which he only played in 36 games during the regular season due to injuries, Anthony Davis enters the 2021-22 season fully refreshed and ready to once again prove that he is one of the best big men in the league.
The 8x All-Star is a highly decorated offensive player, being able to score in various different ways, but he does not seem to get a ton of credit for what he brings to the table defensively.
Not only has Davis made the All-NBA Defensive Team four different times, but he is a 3x block champion and one of the most versatile defenders in the league, even though he is 6’10” and tends to guard big guys in the paint.
Anthony Davis truly is one of the best defenders in the league and with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook next to him this upcoming year, he could really shine more than he already has on the defensive end of the floor.
With all of the additions, the Lakers made this offseason, they are going to be a very strong offensive team, at least they should be, but whether or not they can continue to be a great defensive team remains a big question mark.
Anthony Davis is going to be the anchor for this team defensively and there is a strong chance that he could wind up leading the league in blocks once again, especially since he will be seeing a lot of time at the center position.
Being on the same team as LeBron, Davis is likely not going to be in the running to win an MVP award anytime soon, but there is no reason why he cannot win Defensive Player of the Year. He checks off all the boxes for the award, which is why he is an underrated name to keep an eye on as the 2021-22 season progresses.