By the time Giannis Antetokounmpo’s career is over, he may need a separate garage just to hold all his awards; according to a report from Yahoo’s Chris Haynes and Vincent Goodwill, Giannis will be named the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
It’s not just the acrobatic chasedown blocks, the blocks at the summit of a dunk, the skying-over-from-a-crazy-help position blocks, the leaping steals into passing lanes for easy dunks, or the strength he boasts against bigs inside, it’s also been his increasingly spectacular ability to guard smalls that unlocks his 1-5 defensive versatility. Even his closeouts are now under such control that he can nimbly jump from the paint to the perimeter without leaping in the air, forcing shooters to pause their shots as he stops on a dime, collects his balance and deters opponents from driving around him.
His all-around defensive versatility is truly outstanding, both as a one-on-one defender, and as a help defender/roamer, which is how Bud primarily deploys him within Milwaukee’s scheme. Beyond the counting stats (1.2 blocks per game, 1.1 steals per game — both actually down from past years), the advanced stats are massive fans of Giannis. Jacob Goldstein’s all-in-one D-PIPM had him in the lead, and he ranked 9th in terms of Defensive RPM on ESPN.
Well deserved, led the league in D-PIPM by a healthy margin. https://t.co/M6UglS0qxW— Jacob Goldstein (@JacobEGoldstein) August 25, 2020
Additionally, as probably every Bucks fan on Earth knows by now, should Giannis win the eventual MVP award (seems likely) he’ll be only the third player to achieve both of these honors in the same season, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. That’s the kind of company your star is keeping Bucks fans. Yes, it’s still okay to pinch yourselves. Congrats to Giannis on a well-earned honor.
UPDATE: Here are the full voting results and Giannis delivering a heartfelt acceptance speech.
Giannis won Defensive Player of the Year by a wide margin. Brook Lopez also received four third-place votes. pic.twitter.com/2Od6yah4An— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) August 25, 2020