When it comes to looking at Defensive Player of the Year candidates in the NBA, the voting base has not swayed much from a formula, even if it is a bit outdated. Big rebounding numbers and blocked shots go a long way towards being a candidate for this honor, but there is enough of a presence for other defensive metrics to come into play. Marcus Smart bucked the trend for big men winning this award recently, so there’s a chance someone could do the same in 2023-24. Here’s a look at the odds to win Defensive Player of the Year courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Defensive Player of the Year 2023-24 odds
The favorites: Evan Mobley and Jaren Jackson Jr. (+600)
Mobley is seen as one of the breakout players this year, and a leap is expected on both sides of the floor. Jackson Jr. will have a bigger spotlight on him with Ja Morant suspended for 25 games, which means the Grizzlies forward could create some separation early in this race.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: +750
Winning this award previously helps the Greek Freak, since it brings attention to that side of his game. The numbers might be an issue, because Damian Lillard could take away from his overall scoring and the Bucks do have some depth in the frontcourt to spare him some mileage early. Antetokounmpo is a good contender here but there’s a lot more focus on his offensive exploits.
Bam Adebayo: +900
The opposite of Antetokounmpo happened to Adebayo in the NBA Finals. He was largely seen as a defensive star but broke out offensively against the Nuggets to add more hype around his potential. This could be the year he cements himself as one of the better overall bigs, especially if his scoring continues. That won’t take away from his defense, which is instrumental for the Heat. Miami needs Adebayo’s size, speed and switchability to operate its defensive scheme. Voters will notice that.
Mikal Bridges: +1800
It’s interesting to see the Nets forward ahead of teammate Nic Claxton, who several players were stumping for as a candidate in the preseason. Bridges would fit the mold of Smart as a wing defender who routinely locks down the opposing team’s best player. The problem could be how Brooklyn uses Bridges offensively. The forward was counted on to be the team’s leading scorer and initiator, which could take away from his defensive effort a bit. He’s a nice longshot play as a non-center option.
Best bet: Bam Adebayo (+900)
For the Heat to be a contender, they’re going to have to keep leaning into their defense. That puts a bigger spotlight on Adebayo. He’ll have the numbers as always but there will be more attention since Miami is counting on him and Tyler Herro to become stars. Mobley is not a bad bet as the co-favorite, but Adebayo offers more value at +900.