Draymond Green is Gary Payton’s pick to win Defensive Player of the Year this season
With the playoffs now underway, many are already looking forward to this year’s NBA Awards Night, where the winners of the league’s individual honors will be revealed. One of them is the Defensive Player of the Year award, which is expected to be given to either Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, or Rudy Gobert.
However, a former winner of the plum recently revealed who he thinks is the most deserving to win it this season. Gary Payton said, via Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway, that he believes the Golden State Warriors power forward is the best defensive player of this year’s regular season. He detailed what he saw in Green that makes him stand out against the other favorites, and also talked about how he impacts games from a defensive standpoint.
“My favorite is Draymond Green. With Draymond, he gives more energy to the Golden State Warriors, as he blocks shots, as he strips people, he takes on the challenge to go one-on-one with the best player and always does it.”
“He changes the game like a big man,” Payton said. “When [Dikembe] Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning won their Defensive Player of the Year Award, they blocked shots and changed the game. [Green] does it on both ends of the floor. He can do it as a guard, and he can do it as a big man.
“When Draymond has a bigger guy on him, he doesn’t allow the big person to get an advantage on him. He doesn’t sit in the back and let him post him up. He’ll be moving around, and that gives him an advantage because he can steal the basketball. He’s got great hands, and that’s what he does best. That’s what you have to do when you’re undersized and your weight isn’t the same.”
That certainly says a lot about his defensive acumen, especially coming from someone who made a name for himself as a hard-nosed defender throughout his illustrious career.
Although the winner will not be known until June, it won’t come as a surprise if Green will ultimately win it. He has once again performed at a high level this year, with averages of 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.4 blocks, and a league-leading 2.0 steals per game. He has continued to be the Dubs’ defensive anchor, and will further establish himself as one of the best players from that end, should he bring home the trophy.