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SB Nation Reacts: The Defensive Player of the Year race and more

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NBA: Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged in Atlanta Hawks fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.


The 2021 NBA Playoffs aren’t technically underway just yet, but the league’s play-in tournament is in full swing. Before tipoff, SB Nation Reacts weighs in with the latest survey results across multiple categories.

One intriguing race is the 2020-21 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, with Atlanta Hawks big man Clint Capela presumably an interesting candidate. However, the latest results don’t have Capela in the mix for a top-four spot.

Capela singlehandedly transforms Atlanta’s defense, and that is perhaps his No. 1 claim when evaluating league-wide awards. The Hawks allow only 1.08 points per possession when he plays, with that number skyrocketing to more than 1.13 points per possession when Capela is off the floor. From there, he is the NBA’s leading rebounder, averaging more than 14 rebounds per game, and that is a pretty strong baseline for contention.

Atlanta does not have a candidate for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, in part because No. 6 pick Onyeka Okongwu got a late start and operated in a relatively modest role this season. Elsewhere, Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball was picked by 52 percent of NBA fans as the player who should win the Rookie of the Year award.

Ball beat out Minnesota Timberwolves’ top pick Anthony Edwards 36 percent and Sacramento Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton who earned 12 percent.

The first of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament games were played Tuesday night with the Boston Celtics earning the first bid into the playoffs after beating the Washington Wizards. 61 percent of NBA fans believed the Celtics would advance, falling only behind the Wizards team they beat, which took 78 percent. The Indiana Pacers received the least amount of votes, with only 24 percent, but lived to fight another day after beating the Charlotte Hornets.

According to the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, fans around the NBA think the Golden State Warriors have the best chance of advancing beyond the play-in tournament, with 81 percent believing the team will win one of their games. They are followed by the Los Angeles Lakers, who have 80 percent of fans that believe they will win a game.

One of those top two teams will punch their ticket Wednesday night when the Warriors and Lakers play against each other. While it’s not quite a win-or-go-home game, the loser would be put into an extremely dangerous position. Fortunately for LA and Golden State, they have two of the best players in the game in Stephen Curry and LeBron James.

However, if forced to pick between the two, nearly three-fourths of fans believe Curry is more dangerous in an elimination game than James.


To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.