Nicolas Claxton of Brooklyn Nets Should Have Shorter DPOY Odds

When you leads the NBA in blocked shots per game and field goal percentage, you should be in one of two conversations: Defensive Player of the Year or Most Improved Player.

In Nicolas Claxton’s case, it is the former rather than the latter.

But he is not the favorite in that category, nor is he the second choice. He is +950 and higher in the sports gambling futures marketplaces that New Yorkers can access across state lines. And in an NBA season in which many of the awards futures are stacked in favor of the favorites, this deserves a closer look.

So let’s start with blocks, and how important they are to winning the Defensive Player of the Year award.

What is the History of This Award?

Last year, Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics won it, and that was an outlier year. He became the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1995-96.

In three of the four previous years, it went to Rudy Gobert, when he was with the Utah Jazz. And Dwight Howard also won it three straight years, 2008-09 through 2010-11, when he was with the Orlando Magic and leading the league in  blocks. Ben Wallace won it four times in five years, 2000 to 2006, for the same reason. And that finger wag that you remember from Dikembe Mutombo?

Yup, that was what happened when he blocked a shot, and he won this award four times.

Overall, if you go back to David Robinson in 1991-92, the Defensive Player of the Year winner has led the league in blocks 18 times. That is an average of more than 50%, and when handicapping this award, it is a significant thing to consider. Going into Wednesday night’s games, Claxton is averaging 2.7 to Brook Lopez’s 2.5, and they both have a total of 108.

What is the Wagering Angle Here?

Well, first you have to assume that leading the league in blocks is going to be the thing that wins someone the award. If you can make that lap of faith, that is half the battle.

As we go to press this particular Wednesday, the Nets are on a five-game road trip. Four of the games are out West, and the Nets have lost three in a row, the latest Tuesday night against one of the worst teams in the league, the San Antonio Spurs. Much of this slump is because of a sprained MCL that is expected to sideline him for the rest of the month, at the least.

Take away a team’s best player, and bad things happen. That is usually the case. Ben Simmons had a triple-double last night in San Antonio, but the Nets dropped to third place in the Atlantic Division, five games behind the Boston Celtics (winners of seven straight). It now seems farfetched for the Nets to overcome that big of a deficit and catch the Celtics in the Atlantic Division.

The current losing streak began with the loss to the Celtics, making Brooklyn 0-2 against Boston. But the teams will play twice more: on Feb. 1 and March 3, and if the Nets win both, then a tie between the teams would be broken based upon division record, where the Celtics currently are 5-0 and Brooklyn is 5-3. Boston still has three games remaining with Philadelphia, which is a half-game ahead of the Nets, yet is +1400 to win the division, while the Nets are +850. Hey, maybe the Sixers are the better bet on that one, no?

Brooklyn remains the +600 second choice behind Boston (+360) to win the NBA championship, showing just how important the bookmakers believe Durant is to their success.

As for Claxton, he is +950 and trails Lopez +700 and Jackson (-155) in this particular awards race.

And he is his own best publicist:

Not a bad bet, y’all.

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