The 2022-23 NBA season is more than halfway complete, which means it’s time to start looking at futures bets you can make before the end of the regular season. Below, we’ll be taking a closer look at the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award odds and best picks.
Celtics guard Marcus Smart won the award this past season, becoming the first player at his position to do so since Gary Payton in 1996.
However, there are a number of other challengers in this year’s race, including an up-and-coming star that could dominate this category for years to come. Let’s dive in and see who will be vying to take home the honor of being the NBA’s best defender in 2023.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds 2023
These NBA gameday odds are current as of Friday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m. ET and courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. (-225)
- Brook Lopez (+375)
- Bam Adebayo (+600)
- Nic Claxton (+800)
- Evan Mobley (+1500)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (+2000)
- Draymond Green (+2500)
- Alex Caruso (+2500)
- Jarrett Allen (+3000)
- Joel Embiid (+3500)
- Walker Kessler (+4000)
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NBA Defensive Player of the Year Best Bet
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies (-225)
Jackson is the runaway favorite to win this award, and for good reason. The 23-year-old is averaging a league-high 3.3 blocks in just 27.3 minutes per game this season, and he’s tacking on another 1.1 steals for good measure.
His numbers are outstanding.
Moreover, Jackson’s Grizzlies have made a significant improvement on the defensive end of the floor since he returned to the lineup on Nov. 15, now ranking No. 2 in defensive rating, second in blocks, fourth in steals, and first in opponent field goal percentage.
As long as he can stay on the floor, JJJ appears to be well on his way to earning his first of many Defensive Player of the Year awards, making this my NBA bet of the day.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year Favorites
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (+375)
Lopez, now in his 15th NBA season, is averaging a career-high 2.4 blocks per game. Let that sink in.
It’s pretty incredible to see what the 34-year-old big man has been able to accomplish this year in Milwaukee. On top of rejecting an absurd amount of shots, he’s also averaging 6.3 rebounds per game, which is his highest amount since the 2015-16 season.
The main reason Lopez is here, though, is because of how great his Bucks have been on defense this season. Despite giving up the most two-point attempts in the league, Milwaukee ranks third in two-point percentage, which is a massive credit to the job Lopez has done in the paint.
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat (+600)
Adebayo’s case for Defensive Player of the Year is simple: He anchors what has long been one of the best defensive units in basketball. At some point, that needs to count for something — something more than three All-Defensive selections and no award to show for it.
Miami’s defense is trending in the right direction, as well. The Heat were slipping a bit on that end of the floor to begin the year, but they now rank second in points allowed per game and fourth in defensive rating.
Adebayo plays the game like a point guard, but on the defensive end of the floor. The near-seven-footer is often out switching onto smaller players and guarding the perimeter, yet he’s still averaging about a block per game to go along with 1.2 steals.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year Contenders
Nic Claxton, Brooklyn Nets (+800)
Claxton has surged up this list in recent weeks, and it’s about time that he commanded more of the spotlight in Brooklyn. The 23-year-old big man is an elite rim protector, as evidenced by his 2.6 blocks per game.
In a lot of ways, he reminds me of prime DeAndre Jordan, a two-time All-Defensive selection who averaged 11.3 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 0.7 steals per game from 2010 through 2017 with the LA Clippers. Claxton may not be able to match up on the glass just yet, but he’s a far more versatile defender.
This honor is likely out of reach for him this season, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Claxton continues to be in the conversation for years to come.
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers (+1500)
To be honest, I’m not sure why Mobley isn’t higher on this list. The 21-year-old big is already one of the most versatile defenders in the league, and his 8.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game speak for themselves.
Mobley also happens to (arguably) be the best defender on what is perhaps the league’s best defensive team. The Cavaliers rank first in points allowed per game and defensive rating, and Mobley leads the team in blocks.
He’s unlikely to win this award at this rate, but do keep an eye on Mobley as the years go on. He’s bound to secure at least one of these in what should be a lengthy and successful career.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year Sleepers
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (+2000)
Antetokounmpo is always in contention for a number of awards, and Defensive Player of the Year is right up near the top. The Greek Freak is a five-time All-Defensive Team member and already won this award once in 2019-20.
A do-it-all defender, Antetokounmpo uses his elite size and speed to guard every position on the floor. There may not be a better disruptor in the league given his ability to intercept passes, send away shots at the rim, and lock up some of the very best scorers in the NBA.
As it stands, his Bucks rank sixth in the league in points allowed per game and third in defensive rating, while Antetokounmpo is averaging just under a steal and a block per game.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors (+2500)
Green’s defensive versatility remains pretty great. The counting stats may not be what they used to be (1 steal, 0.8 blocks per game), but there are few players in the NBA who can defend all five positions as effectively as he can.
With that said, I’m not buying his Defensive Player of the Year campaign this year. This is an award that’s typically reserved for a player who puts up outstanding numbers or is the centerpiece of the league’s best defensive team, and Green is neither.
Golden State ranks 27th in points allowed per game, 21st in defensive rating, 16th in steals, and 28th in blocks. The Warriors are absolutely a worse defensive team without him on the roster, but his individual impact and situation don’t quite line up with what the rest of this class has done this year.