2022-23 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds: Can the Bucks’ Brook Lopez Be Caught?

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Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks takes the court for a preseason game against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 01, 2022. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

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NBA Pick: Brook Lopez – Milwaukee Bucks (-160) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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The NBA is guaranteed a first-time Defensive Player of the Year Award winner this season as the race is down to favored Brook Lopez of Milwaukee and Jaren Jackson Jr. of Memphis.

Let’s break them down with odds from BetOnline, one of the top-rated online sportsbooks for your top NBA pick

Remember, fans from the Badger State who want to wager on this game should check out our top-rated Wisconsin betting sites.

2022-23 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award 

There are about three weeks left in the 2022-23 NBA regular season, so one might assume that the betting favorites currently for the major individual awards are locks to win them. That may not be the case, however. 

Last week, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was on track to join the very rare company to possibly win his third straight MVP Award at current NBA odds.

However, both the Nuggets and Jokic are in a funk right now, and he has been replaced by Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid at the top-rated sportsbooks as the MVP favorite. My point being: It can only take a few games – and heavy betting action – for things to change

That said, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year is going to be one of two big men: Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez or Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. Here are the cases for each with odds from BetOnline. 

Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks)

  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds (-160) 

It’s really quite amazing how much Lopez has changed his game since he was the No. 10 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft out of Stanford by the Nets – they were still in New Jersey then. Sure, Lopez could block some shots right away because he’s 7-foot tall, but he wasn’t a great defensive player and also didn’t even make a single three-pointer in his first six seasons. 

Now? He averages about 2.0 made three-pointers per game on a very respectable 38.1% shooting from deep. Since the All-Star break, Lopez is averaging 20.4 points per game and shooting 56.6% from the field and 41.8% from three. That’s what the modern NBA has become: Big men must be able to shoot threes, but that’s a story for another day. 

Bombs from Downtown and Blocks Too

The 34-year-old Lopez is third in the league in blocks at 2.5 per game – he had a career-high nine in a recent game vs. Brooklyn — and he contests more shots than any player, a whopping average of 17.4 per game. That’s by far first in the league, with Nets center Nic Claxton second at 11.9.  

Jaren Jackson Jr., the other candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, isn’t among the Top 5. Lopez also is No. 1 in the league at defended field goals (22.6) per game and opponents are making just 46.4% of those. Lopez contests shots without fouling – he averages only 2.5 fouls per game and has fouled out just twice. 

Last season, the Bucks ranked 14th in the NBA in defensive efficiency as Lopez played in just 13 games due to injury. This year, Milwaukee is No. 1. That the Bucks also are likely to finish with the NBA’s best record only adds to Lopez’s candidacy. 

The Bucks have had a DPOY winner three times, but two players: Sidney Moncrief in 1983 & ’84 and Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2020. 

Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies) 

  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds (+140) 

Jackson was the betting favorite earlier this season when some controversy arose. It all started with a Reddit post that alleged the scorekeepers in Memphis were adding a significant number of blocks and steals in an effort to boost Jackson’s chances at Defensive Player of the Year. It gained so much traction that the NBA’s Tim Frank, the league’s senior VP of communications, issued a statement: 

“In order to ensure the integrity of our game, statistics, auditors, independent of the statisticians on-site, review all plays and stats decisions in real-time during NBA games. If changes are necessary, they are made at that time or following a postgame review. All of the plays questioned in the post on Memphis games were scored consistently within the rules set forth by the NBA statisticians manual.” 

NBA Responds to Criticism

Indeed, this was on display recently when Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo appeared to finish with a triple-double of 23 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds on March 6 against Washington. The Freak grabbed a defensive rebound with nine seconds left, well aware that left him one rebound short of 10.

He hustled the ball downcourt, got near the rim the Bucks were shooting at, hesitated, and then intentionally threw the ball into the bottom of the rim before catching it. That gave him 10 rebounds. The next day, the league took away that rebound.

According to league rules, for a field-goal attempt to count as official, the player has to shoot “with intent to score a field goal.” 

Block’s Leader by a Wide Margin May Not Be Enough

Jackson is leading the NBA by a mile at 3.1 blocks per game, which would shatter his career high of 2.3 last year when he was named first-team All-Defense and set the franchise record for blocks per game and total blocks. He also averages 1.1 steals per game this year.  

If you are wondering: At home, Jackson averages 3.9 blocks and 1.3 steals compared to 2.2 and 0.8 on the road. Hmm. To be fair, most guys play better at home. One thing hurting Jackson’s candidacy:  He has missed 17 games due to injury/illness. 

The lone Memphis winner of this award was Marc Gasol in 2013. Jackson may win this award eventually but not this year.  

NBA Pick: Brook Lopez (-160) at BetOnline

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.