When it comes to personal accolades and awards, Giannis Antetokounmpo has done it all. Well, almost. He has been an All-Rookie, a Most Improved Player, a 3-time All-Star, a 2-time All-Defensive player, a 3-time All-NBA selection, and most importantly the 2018-19 MVP. Believe it or not, there’s still one individual award Antetokounmpo can win and that’s the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.
We all know what Giannis can do with the ball in his hands on the offensive side of the ball but it’s his defense that really makes him a top five player in the league. In fact, since the 2014-15 season, The Greek Freak has had an elite defensive rating per 100 possessions. Speaking of defensive rating, last year he actually had a better defensive rating than reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. Giannis’ DRTG of 99 ranked 2nd in the entire NBA. When it comes to other great defensive numbers Giannis put up last year, he set a career high in defensive win shares where he ranked 3rd in the NBA as well as defensive box plus minus where he ranked 2nd in the NBA. Finally, he had a defensive field goal percentage of 52.7% in 2018-19 which was the best mark for a wing player who saw as many shots per game as he did.
At only 24-years-old, Giannis is not only getting better offensively but defensively too. Antetokounmpo’s main competitors for DPOY are Draymond Green, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gobert but Giannis seems to be next in line to win the award. He always seems to have an abundance of incredible defensive highlights which helps his case and if he can be top 10 in blocks and steals like he was in 2016-17, it’s almost a sure fire thing for Giannis to win Defensive Player of the Year. Lastly, he has an extremely high chance of jumping up to 2nd all-time on Milwaukee’s franchise block list and 8th all-time on the steals list next season. When this happens, Giannis will get even more attention as a lockdown defensive stopper.
Team success means more to Giannis than any individual award but he has the talent and determination to stumble into an award like Defensive Player of the Year. No matter how many individual accolades Antetokounmpo racks up throughout his career, he knows he will only be judged by how many championships he wins. However, if he does win DPOY he will join only Kevin Garnett, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Michael Jordan as players to be named the best defender and win an MVP award. That’s very elite company if you ask me and would make Giannis a shoo-in Hall of Famer.
*Stats via basketball-reference.com*