NBA Betting: Giannis Antetokounmpo Is a Lock for Defensive Player of the Year
We don't have a lot of certainty surrounding the NBA's return to action, but we do know a few things from before the break. One of those was that Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated the NBA.
Coming off the layoff, though, FanDuel Sportsbook has updated odds on the reigning MVP this past week to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Odds have dropped from -480 to -290 for the Milwaukee Bucks' superstar as he attempts to take home the award for the first time.
Antetokounmpo is a -2400 favorite to win MVP, and his main competition for defensive player of the year is two-time reigning champ Rudy Gobert (+420). Gobert would become the second player in league history to win three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards, joining only Dwight Howard in the record books.
Antetokounmpo's individual and team success this season makes him a shoo-in for MVP, and he actually looks like a lock for the other superlative, as well.
Why Antetokounmpo Is a Runaway for DPOY
Antetokounmpo has had the best defensive rating of his career this season, dropping from 101.8 in 2018-19 to 96.5 in 2019-20. He's been an anchor for the league's best overall defense. The Bucks hold the NBA's best defensive rating (101.6) and allow the lowest opponent field goal percentage (41.3%).
He leads the league in defensive win shares (0.206) and currently holds the NBA lead for Player Efficiency Rating (31.71) and net rating (16.1), which are all career-highs. Giannis also leads the league in defensive rebounds with 11.5 per game and ranks third in total rebounds with 13.7. Antetokounmpo is currently averaging a career-high 22.0 rebounding rate and 23.6 block percentage.
Antetokounmpo's speed and length has been a disastrous duo to opposing offenses. He's recording a similar speed (3.56mph) on defense to Malcolm Brogdon (3.58) and Draymond Green (3.56) while owning a 7'3" wingspan and rebounding at a ridiculous rate. He's currently sixth in contested defensive rebounds (2.7), second in defensive rebound chances (16.0), 10th in defensive rebounding percentage (30.5%), and tied-12th in the percentage of defensive rebounds (40.7%). On the boards, there hasn't been a non-center better all season than the Greek Freak.
Giannis is also holding his opponents to 41.8% from the field one-on-one, which ranks first in the league among players who have played more than 20 games.
The Bucks owning the best record in the NBA (53-12) as the only team to surpass 50 wins certainly helps Antetokounmpo's case for DPOY too.
There have been 37 winners of DPOY, and 32 of those individuals have averaged at least 2.0 blocks + steals per game, and nobody won with fewer than 2.0 combined blocks + steals since Dennis Rodman has won in 1990-91 per Basketball-Reference.
The Greek Freak is currently averaging 2.0 blocks and steals per game, and per 100 possessions, he's averaging 3.0 combined blocks and steals per game. Antetokounmpo has a great shot to be the third player ever to win MVP and DPOY, so if you can find odds on Antetokounmpo to win both, you should invest in those odds immediately.
Gobert's Case for a Third Straight DPOY
The two-time DPOY, Gobert, certainly has the history on his side, and he's still considered the best interior defender in the league. Gobert's received All-Defensive First Team honors for three straight seasons but is having the worst defensive rated season of his career (106.8) despite still being dominant for the Utah Jazz. He is averaging 2.0 blocks or more for the sixth straight season and rebounding at a career-highs of 10.3 defensive boards and 13.7 total rebounds this year.
Gobert has recorded back-to-back seasons with 2.3 blocks and 0.8 steals per game, showcasing consistency on the defensive end. This season, he's averaging 2.0 blocks and 0.8 steals through 62 of 64 games. In 100 possessions for Gobert, he's totaling 2.8 blocks and 1.1 steals per game, his lowest total of his career. The French center's slightly lower defensive stats has left the door open for Giannis to step right in and steal the award away.
Gobert is a great hedge if you're betting on DPOY to make sure you bet enough to make a significant profit in case you are betting on Antetokounmpo's -290 odds.