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.
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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.