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PBT Awards: Defensive Player of the Year


SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 18: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz runs up court during their game against the Denver Nuggets at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 18, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** V

Gene Sweeney Jr.

Kurt Helin

1. Rudy Gobert, Jazz

2. Joel Embiid, 76ers

3. Anthony Davis, Pelicans

If Joel Embiid had stayed healthy through the end of the season, maybe I view this differently, but maybe not — Rudy Gobert was so dominant the second half of the season it’s hard to see anyone else winning this. It’s not just the blocks, it’s the guys who see him and pull up from 12 feet out rather than challenge him that changes things. I decided to go with Anthony Davis over Al Horford for the final spot of the three, but it’s really close. Horford was fantastic on the back line for Boston. If Andre Roberson had played more than 39 games, this entire list could look different.

Dan Feldman

1. Rudy Gobert, Jazz

2. Joel Embiid, 76ers

3. Robert Covington, 76ers

The top spots became pretty obvious as the season wound down – Gobert defending at an elite level, Embiid seeing his playing-time advantage shrink as he sat out due to injury. Two 76ers on the ballot? Yup. Embiid gets most of the credit, but Covington’s versatility was essential for Philadelphia’s cross-matching, and Covington usually took the toughest perimeter matchup. The 76ers defended at an elite level when he played (with or without Embiid), and that was while covering for some teammates with defensive deficiencies. Al Horford, Clint Capela, Anthony Davis and Jimmy Butler also strongly contended for the final spot.

Dane Carbaugh

1. Rudy Gobert, Jazz

2. Joel Embiid, 76ers

3. Dejounte Murray, Spurs

It’s sort of ridiculous that you only have one spot for a center on the All-Defensive teams, which puts me in an awkward situation here with Rudy Gobert on my first team and Joel Embiid on my second. In any case, each have been incredible this season but Gobert deserves the credit he should have received last year. Murray, meanwhile, has been a big part of why the Spurs have been able to both move on from Tony Parker and remain a playoff team for yet another season despite losing Kawhi Leonard.