Defensive Player of the Year
1. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
2. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
4. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
5. Paul George, Indiana Pacers
This may honestly be the most fun race of the year. Hibbert and Ibaka are effectively neck and neck at this point. We'll get more into this in a few weeks, but the two have remarkably different tactics but similar rates of production. Hibbert's mobility is underrated as the assumption is that he's stuck in the paint. The reality is that he has good awareness of staying within range so it seems like he's always there. But he can guard in the pick and roll and stay fluid with his rotations.
Meanwhile, Ibaka's closed on the things that I had always criticized him for. He doesn't fall for pump faks nearly as often. He doesn't chase blocks at the expense of his rotation. He's still a monster rebounder. He's able to more effectively guard in space and can shut down players with multiple weapons from the triple-threat. KD is unbelievable, but OKC's defense is what makes them a title contender. And Ibaka's the biggest part of that.
That's right, DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins still does enough to drive you nuts, but it's reached "Serge Ibaka in 2012" levels. Just because he has a worse attitude doesn't take away from what he does well. For all players defending at least 10 possessions per game, Synergy Sports lists DMC as fourth best in the league,. He's the best with over 14 possessions defended per game.
Dwight Howard's getting more and more healthy. Just keep that in the back of your head.