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The NBA Robbed The Real DPOY

The National Basketball Association does not operate like a town youth league. Not every player is going to get a trophy. The NBA refuses to be clear about what qualifies someone for an award, and no formula is used to scientifically decide that. It all boils down to a few people's opinions behind closed doors somewhere.


Is the Most Valuable Player the best player in the league, the best player on the best team, or the player with the best statistical season? This has been debated since the league first started issuing awards, and if the 2023-24 season taught us anything about the process, it's that the league doesn't know who should win them either. This is especially true about the defensive player of the year.


Rudy Gobert, DPOY, Wayne Gregoire

The Award Goes To...

For the fourth time in seven years, the league's award for the best defensive player goes to Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves. This is not a hit piece on Gobert, who by all accounts is an amazing defender. He's one of the best we have ever seen. Gobert had a 106.6 defensive rating while averaging 12.9 rebounds (9.2 defensive), 2.1 blocks, and 0.7 steals.


To help matters along, the Timberwolves went 56-26 and finished third in the Western Conference standings. Playing on a winning team may or may not matter for MVP, but it certainly matters for the DPOY. It also makes things easy to give it to the same player every year, like Derek Jeter winning a gold glove for shortstop when he wasn't even the best shortstop on the Yankees at the time.


Victor Wembanyama, DPOY, Wayne Gregoire

The Award Should Go To...

Certain players come along once in a generation, but you'd never know it because the media throws around the term "generational player" in every single draft. Shaquille O'Neal is one of those players. Tim Duncan and LeBron James were also generational talents. The newest is Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama. He is 7'4" but shoots and dribbles like a wing. He's basically Kevin Durant, plus five inches (if Kevin Durant knew how to play defense).


As a rookie, Wembanyama not only averaged 21.4 points per game in just 29.7 minutes per game, but also added 10.6 rebounds (8.4 defensive), 3.6 blocks (league leader), and 1.2 steals. He had a defensive rating of 111.2. His rating was actually better in losses than in wins. He not only accumulated 35 more steals and 92 more blocks than Gobert, but he also committed 85 fewer fouls.


Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Wayne Gregoire

Rookie Bias

The league clearly didn't want to give the award to a first-year player, and why would they? If the award went to a rookie, it might signal to fans that the league is worth watching again. There's not much debate among fans that watching the NBA has been borderline insufferable since before COVID-19 and the bubble playoffs.


Kobe Bryant and not Steve Nash should have been the league MVP in 2006, and Michael Jordan should have gotten the award over Karl Malone in 1998. The league has a history of getting it wrong, and this year proved they have no intention of getting it right. Congratulations to Victor Wembanayama on a great season. You deserved this award.


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