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Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis finalists for Defensive Player of the Year

Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, right, defends the shot attempt by Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert, center, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


The NBA delaying revealing its regular-season awards until after the playoffs comes with one major upside – a TV special that can be monetized.

But it also sucks the enthusiasm out of the honors. After the drama of a lengthy and high-stakes postseason, who cares about the best performances in a relative mundane regular season?

That can perhaps be felt most strongly in Defensive Player of the Year. Nobody produced an elite defensive season that a national audience will be excited to celebrate months later, and all three finalists have already been eliminated from the playoffs:

  • Rudy Gobert (Jazz)
  • Joel Embiid (76ers)
  • Anthony Davis (Pelicans)

Kawhi Leonard missed nearly the entire season. Draymond Green didn’t bring full effort. Andre Roberson got hurt after a strong start to the season.

And with that, three prime candidates didn’t become (or deserve to be) finalists.

I’d pick Gobert, but even he missed 26 games. Nobody sustained elite defense for a large portion of the regular season. How many people will care June 25 who voters deemed came closest?