Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo Named 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2020

Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward (20) looks to pass as Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, July 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old beat out Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert to earn the honor for the first time in his seven-year career.

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

Here are the full DPOY voting results ... https://t.co/cSPU60aNRq

Josh Eberley🇨🇦 @JoshEberley

Giannis Antetokounmpo Michael Jordan Hakeem Olajuwon David Robinson Kevin Garnett MVP & Defensive Player of the Year We need a nickname for this exclusive club.

Although Giannis was a two-time NBA All-Defensive selection and an NBA MVP entering the 2019-20 campaign, he was never quite able to nab the accolade of being the NBA's best defender until now.

The four-time All-Star put up big numbers this season, especially on the defensive side with 13.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. He also averaged 29.5 points and 5.6 assists.

The positive impact he made on the Bucks this season can't be overstated, as he helped lead them to a 56-17 record and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the second consecutive campaign.

While Giannis has long been a dominant defensive player in the NBA due to his length and athleticism, he has often been overlooked for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, perhaps due to the fact that he's a top-flight offensive player as well.

Players who clearly excel more defensively than they do offensively have often won the award in recent years, including the likes of Joakim Noah, Draymond Green and Gobert.

Giannis is more in the mold of Kawhi Leonard as far as NBA DPOY winners go, but given the impact he makes on that end of the floor and his team as a whole, it is difficult to argue against the notion that he deserved to take the honor.