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NBA Names Victor Wembanyama As One Of Three Finalists For DPOY

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 23: Victor Wembanyama #1 of the San Antonio Spurs blocks a shot by LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of a game at Crypto.com Arena on February 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

No rookie has ever been the Defensive Player of the Year, but Victor Wembanyama has a chance to be the first.

The NBA announced the three finalists for the DPOY and it includes the seven-foot-five rookie, Minnesota Timberwolves’ Rudy Gobert, and the Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo.

The French phenom is the NBA leader in total blocked shots and blocked shots per game in 2023-24. He swatted 254 shots in 71 outings, good for 3.6 a game. However, the San Antonio Spurs are in the bottom 10 in defensive rating and allow opponents to shoot nearly 49 percent from the floor, good for eighth-worst in the league.

These facts are often the point of contention in Wemby’s DPOY case. Is it a good look to let somebody from a bad defensive team win the award? That said, The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo emphasized the “player” part of the award, and not the “team.” The analyst noted the individual impact of Wembanyama, often deterring shots in the paint by his mere presence.

However, if it’s up to the Spurs rookie, the award should go to his fellow Frenchman Rudy Gobert. After all, Gobert is the anchor of the league’s top-ranked defense.

Meanwhile, Adebayo’s versatility is his calling card. The Heat center can easily slide into the perimeter of the interior depending on the circumstances.

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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 05: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers holds his shoulder in pain during the first half of a game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on February 05, 2024 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 David Jensen/Getty Images)
Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images

A notable snub in the yearly award is Los Angeles Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis. Davis is fourth in the league in blocks per game and third in defensive rebounding and surprisingly received no consideration. 

All in all, the DPOY race should be close and each candidate has his own merits. NBA players like Draymond Green would like to see Wembanyama win the award, but the league historically gave it to the best defensive team’s best player (with minor exceptions).