Much like the MVP award, the chase for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year can also be looked at as a two-man race. What should go down to the wire between the big men of Chicago and Indiana has turned into an exhibition of each player’s defensive skill-sets. Whether they may be gifted enough to use their large frame to jump straight up in the air, or if they’re incredibly rangy, active and intense, these two have set themselves far apart from anybody else on that end of the floor.
It’s always refreshing to see players that take a lot of pride in their defense. It’s almost become a lost art with players wanting to pack their stat lines and directing their attention to the growing fascination of spacing the floor with shooters, no matter the position of the shooter.
Players, especially that one from Chicago, who put a great deal of pride into their defensive effort are an asset for any team. Any team in the NBA would give up a chunk of their roster for either of the five players on this list, even if the top two have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.
It’s much more difficult to find the right defender than the right shooter. Any roster can be filled with shooters to propel an offense, but it takes the right eye to find a player that’s equally gifted and ready to expel their energy on that end of the floor for the better of their team.
For teams like Chicago, Indiana and Miami, they’ve found their defensive anchors, one of the most difficult players to uncover when forming a championship-contending roster.
We take a look at the top defenders on the previously mentioned Eastern Conference playoff teams, as well as two others in the west, to round out the top five players contending for the Defensive Player of the Year award for the 2013-14 season.
5. Anthony Davis
You’re almost conflicted to rank Anthony Davis as one of the league’s top five candidates for Defensive Player of the Year.
But despite being a part of the league’s No. 26 ranked defense, in terms of points per possession, Davis is still one of the toughest players to score against.
He’s holding opposing power forwards to a PER of 16, per 82games.com, and is leading the league in blocks per game, sending back nearly three a night. He’s averaging a full block per game more than he did last year during his rookie campaign.
It’s easy to forget that Davis is only in his second year in the league. He plays with veteran expertise, draining mid-range jumpers and keeping blocks inbounds. Although it doesn’t have to do with his Defensive Player of the Year considerations, it’s still worth noting that he’s dropping 21.1 points and 10.2 boards to go with those nearly three blocks a night.
His PER of 26.98 is fourth in the league, trailing only Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kevin Love. Something’s telling me that this Pelicans team isn’t too far off from making a significant playoff run in the future behind their MVP candidate power forward.
His block percentage, or the amount of opponent’s shots that were blocked while that player is on the floor, is the best in the league at 6.7 percent. His wingspan has allowed him to block more jump shots than any player in recent memory.
What’s left to do when the opposition’s shot-blocker and main post deterrent is capable of igniting fast breaks after blocking a shot at the perimeter? Nothing, besides hoping he doesn’t get any help on that end of the floor.