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2021 PBT Awards: Defensive Player of the Year

Jazz center Rudy Gobert

SACRAMENTO, CA - MAY 16: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz smiles during the game against the Sacramento Kings on May 16, 2021 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Kurt Helin

1. Rudy Gobert (Jazz)

2. Draymond Green (Warriors)

3. Ben Simmons (76ers)

This was a runaway. While there are plenty of good defenders around the league, Utah has built its top-ranked defense around Gobert — his ability to protect the rim and clean up mistakes allow the rest of the Jazz defenders to pressure teams at the arc and be aggressive. It’s hard to think of Green as underrated, but he may have been on defense this season.

Honorable mention nod to Clint Capela in Atlanta, who was critical to the Hawks’ improvement on that end. Myles Turner would be on this list if he had stayed healthy this season.

Dan Feldman

1. Rudy Gobert (Jazz)

2. Clint Capela (Hawks)

3. Draymond Green (Warriors)

Rudy Gobert was the best defender in the NBA this season and he played a lot. That made him an easy choice for this award. The Jazz built their excellent defense around Gobert. He dominated inside, protecting the rim and rebounding. He’s also too good in space to be exploited.

Clint Capela was seemingly everywhere for the Hawks – keeping their defense near respectable despite lackluster defensive talent around him. He’s a beast of a shot blocker and rebounder.

Though Draymond Green has declined from his peak level, his basketball intelligence really shined while anchoring the Warriors’ defense.

Especially in the regular season, bigs – by spending more time near the basket – are better positioned to affect defense. That’s why popular candidate Ben Simmons fell short of my ballot for this regular-season award. That said, his versatility could prove more valuable in the playoffs.