- Sep 14, 2002
- Reaction score
- Scottsdale, Az
Mikal Bridges, Rudy Gobert top Defensive Player of the Year race; Luke Kennard surging off bench: NBA Awards Rankings
Is there some voter fatigue surrounding the Jazz center? And don't forget about Giannis when talking about the top defenders.
1. Mikal Bridges, Phoenix SunsReason: I still believe Mikal Bridges has been the best defensive player I’ve seen this season, outside of Green when he was healthy. Bridges has been unbelievable for the Phoenix Suns, and he’s galvanized their third-leading defense in the NBA. Here’s the knock against Bridges: The Suns are actually better without him on the floor. Their second-unit defense has been beyond elite, and they don’t even give up 100 points per 100 possessions when Bridges is on the bench. That’s due to great coaching by Monty Williams, and this team is unbelievably deep with role players now that they have JaVale McGee and Bismack Biyombo anchoring the defense when Deandre Ayton isn’t in the game.
Bridges’ versatility and tenacity are what wow players, coaches and executives. I’ve heard scouts and front-office people compare him to watching Kawhi Leonard in his early San Antonio days. We know Bridges can defend one through four pretty brilliantly. He’s one of the best in the league navigating screen action on the floor, and teams are constantly setting screens on him to try and dislodge him from the hip of the man he’s marking. His long arms prevent deflections because opponents are afraid to pass his way. Bridges guards the best scorer on the team every game, and half of the game plan is trying to get him switched off that player. Bridges is as deserving as anybody right now, and it will probably be the first of many DPOY awards if he wins it this season.