NEW ORLEANS -- If the NBA season were to end at the All-Star break, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green would be the favorite for his first Defensive Player of the Year award.
After promising anonymity, ESPN polled 80 media members who have postseason awards voting privileges. Every NBA market is represented. The league selects 130 media members to vote for its official postseason awards.
Even though our poll is 50 media members shy of the true figure, Green still holds a pretty decisive advantage. ESPN asked those 80 individuals to give their top three defensive player choices if the season were to conclude today, and 16 candidates were selected.
Using the NBA’s point system of a first-place vote being multiplied by five, a second-place vote multiplied by three and a third-place vote multiplied by one, Green accumulated a total of 295 points.
He received 41 first-place votes, 28 second-place votes and six third-place votes.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert finished second with 193 points. He picked up 17 first-place votes, 31 second-place votes and 15 third-place votes.
San Antonio Spurs All-Star Kawhi Leonard came in third with 185 points. He has been the recipient of this award the past two seasons. The small forward got 20 first-place votes, 18 second-place votes and 31 third-place votes.
Green was mildly shocked to hear of ESPN's results.
“I think it’s pretty amazing to get that type of recognition for something,” Green told ESPN.com. “Obviously, it doesn’t matter at this point. But to be there right now -- I know how good of a defender Kawhi is -- so to be there is pretty special.”
San Antonio (101.0), Golden State (101.6) and Utah (101.6) have the top three defensive-efficiency statistics in the league. Green believes the team’s defensive numbers should be taken into consideration when voters are choosing who the best defenders are.
“I think it has to play into it some,” he said. “If you think you’re just an outstanding defender and your team defense isn’t that good, you’re probably not really that great.”
Only five players received a first-place vote. Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James each got one. It was James’ lone vote on the ballot.
Jordan also received nine third-place votes. He finished in fourth with 14 points.
ESPN informed Green's teammate Stephen Curry of the results and he proceeded to raise his hand in the air and extended his right index finger.
“Let this be a gesture that I’m saying Draymond is No. 1,” Curry said.
James (five points, one first place), New Orleans forward Anthony Davis (five points, one second place, two third place) and Golden State forward Kevin Durant (five points, one second place, two third place) were tied for fifth.
Memphis guard Tony Allen (four points, four third place), Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (four points, four third place), Oklahoma City center Steven Adams (three points, one second place) and Clippers guard Chris Paul (two points, two third place) rounded out the middle of the findings.
Memphis center Marc Gasol, Miami center Hassan Whiteside, Indiana forward Paul George, Chicago forward Jimmy Butler and Houston guard Patrick Beverley each had one third-place vote.
If the results of this ESPN survey hold steady come postseason-awards voting time, Green will be the first Warriors player to win the defensive honor.
“I feel pretty good about what I’ve done defensively,” Green said. “I think there’s some things I can get better at and continue to improve. But overall, I feel like I’ve been pretty good individually, and I think we’ve been good as a team.”
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