The 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year race has been one of the most tightly contested in many years. While the last few years had a competition between two or three players, this year saw over 5 players in the running for the award. This included Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis), Giannis Atentokounmpo (Milwaukee), Mikal Bridges (Phoenix), Rudy Gobert (Utah), and Bam Adebayo (Miami).
Due to the six-man race for the award, three players were bound to be left off the finalists' list and two more would then have to lose the award. Jaren Jackson Jr., Bam Adebayo, and Giannis Antetokounmpo were left off the finalists, as Marcus Smart was awarded the trophy and became the first guard since Gary Payton to win the honor.
Adebayo wasn't pleased about not making the final cut, with many having argued for him to be the DPOY this season. He didn't know about the award list until after his last practice with Miami, after which he expressed his disappointment.
"Disrespectful. I feel like I can do anything that two out of the three can do, besides, I mean, I can't teach height, but they all three play on TV more than me, so I would expect that. They get more TV games and they get more exposure, people like to talk about them more. Don't nobody want to talk about us. So, it's whatever at that point."
Adebayo does make a good point. The finalists were Bridges, Smart, and Gobert, whose teams all played more nationally televised games than Bam. Coming into the season, the Suns had 34 nationally televised games scheduled. The Celtics had 32, the Jazz had 26 and the Heat had 22.
Adebayo still is young and has a long career ahead of him. Hopefully, this year's snub makes him elevate his game to become an undeniable winner next season.