Centers have dominated the NBA’s list of Defensive Player of the Year winners over the years, but Suns head coach Monty Williams and star guard Devin Booker believe forward Mikal Bridges has been the best defensive player in the league this season, as Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports relays (Twitter
“He should be the Defensive Player of the Year, No. 1,” Williams said, noting that Bridges has taken on the toughest defensive assignments for the Suns while playing heavy minutes (35.3 MPG without missing a game).
Rudy Gobert is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but voter fatigue could work against the Jazz center, who has won the award in three of the last four seasons. Currently, Heat big man Bam Adebayo is considered the betting favorite by BetOnline.ag and Bovada.lv, with Bridges lurking among the top challengers.
Here are a few more notes from around the Pacific:
- Reports have indicated that the Warriors are optimistic Stephen Curry will return from his foot injury by the time the playoffs begin next month, and Curry confirmed on Sunday that’s the plan. “Yeah, we’ve got enough time for that … but I’m an optimist,” Curry told reporters, including Joe Stiglich of the Associated Press. Curry added that he didn’t view the Marcus Smart dive that caused his injury as “malicious or dirty.”
- Warriors guard Gary Payton II, who initially hoped to return on Sunday from a left knee injury, remained sidelined for that game but is no longer listed on the injury report and will play on Tuesday in Orlando, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Payton has missed the team’s last eight games.
- Although it has been a disappointing season overall for the Lakers, LeBron James was in good spirits after leading the club to a 131-120 over his old team in Cleveland on Monday night, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “I’m literally having the time of my life right now,” James said after the game. “… Because I couldn’t care less what the narrative about our team is. At my point in my career, I don’t get involved in that stuff. I don’t read about it, I don’t hear it too much. … None of that stuff matters to me, I’m having a blast playing the game of basketball.”
- The Lakers, which won in Toronto on Friday and Cleveland on Monday, appear to finally be gaining some confidence, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic, who explores whether fans should have any faith in L.A. to make some noise in the play-in tournament and the playoffs.