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3 Reasons Why Victor Wembanyama Should Win DPOY

Victor Wembanyama is a DPOY candidate with a rock solid case for the award.

With the NBA season coming to a close award talks are heating up. One recent conversation that has emerged is the Defensive Player of the Year debate. Rudy Gobert has seemingly had the Defensive Player of the Year Award or DPOY locked up for months. He has anchored the best defense in the league and is currently a -2400 favorite to win the award. If Gobert wins DPOY this year he’ll tie Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo for the most career DPOYs. Despite Gobert almost certainly winning the award and his defensive greatness, there’s another candidate more deserving. That’s right rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama checks all the boxes of DPOY. Currently, Wembanyama is second behind Gobert with +1000 odds to win the awards. Wembanyama has gotten some DPOY buzz after an incredible second half of the season and some dominant performances. Let’s dive into Wemby’s DPOY case. 

3 Reasons Why Victor Wembanyama Should Win DPOY

Historic Stocks 

While steals and blocks are not the end-all be-all in terms of defense they are still very worth considering in a DPOY case. Wembanyama has had a dominant and historic season, especially in terms of stocks. He is averaging an absurd 3.6 blocks per game and 1.2 steals per game. Wemby is the runaway block per-game leader with three players tied for the second averaging 2.4 blocks per game. Wembanyama has an unmatched 339 stocks on the season 75 more than the runner-up Anthony Davis and 134 more than Gobert. 

Furthermore, Wemby has a ridiculous 252 total blocks on the year, 66 more than Chet Holmgren and Brook Lopez who are tied for second. Notably, Wemby also has 96 more total blocks than Gobert and his 3.6 blocks per game are the most since the 2015-16 season. Since the All-Star break, Wembanyama is averaging 4.6 blocks per game which is more than eight teams and equal to four teams. Wemby also is averaging 2.8 deflections per game which ranks second among centers and gives him significantly more than Gobert’s 1.6 per game. What Wemby has done as a rookie is historical, his rim protection and defensive versatility are truly amazing. This dominance is even more impressive when considering the Spurs have restricted Wembanyama’s minutes to under 30 per game. Per 36 minutes these numbers become even more mind-boggling. 

Elite Advanced Numbers

One of the most important things to consider in the DPOY race is advanced stats and Wemby’s are excellent. Wembanyama’s estimated defensive plus minus is +3.3 ranking him in the 99th percentile and 6th in the league-wide. While Gobert is still in the 94th percentile with a +2.2 Wemby gets the slight edge with this stat. Defensive rating is one of the most discussed stats in the DPOY race both at the individual and team level.

Many Gobert voters will point to Wemby’s poor team defensive rating compared to Gobert’s elite team defensive rating. However, the individual stats capture Wemby’s incredible impact. With Wemby on the court, the Spurs have a 110.9 defensive rating. A number that would make the Spurs the second-best defense in the league just a notch behind the Timberwolves who have a 109.69 defensive rating. Without Wembanyama the Spurs have a 118 defensive rating which would be towards the bottom of the league. This gives Wemby a -7.1 on/off differential whereas Gobert has just a -.3 differential. Ultimately this stat shows us that Wemby is more important to his team’s defense.   

Unmatched Talented and Impact 

Unlike the MVP award, DPOY shouldn’t take into account team success or at least it should be far less of a factor. In my eyes, the award should be reserved for the most impactful and talented defender during that season. While Gobert has anchored the top defense in the league and the Spurs defense ranks just 21st in the league Wemby has been more impactful and valuable to his team. The history of this award favors great defenders on great defensive teams.

However, Wembanyama’s versatile impact, elite rim protection, and valuable on/off numbers give him a clear case. In terms of overall defensive impact, it’s hard to make an argument for anyone over Wemby. Furthermore, Wembanyama is surrounded by one of the worst defensive rosters in the league, last year they ranked dead last in defensive rating. Wembanyama has elevated this core in every possible way and made an unmatched defensive impact. As a result of his impact, talent, and historic season, Wembanyama deserves this award even if he is not the traditional winner. 


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