Defensive MVP: Axel Toupane
Axel Toupane was also in the discussion for “Most Underrated Player,” but what he did defensively was fantastic. Having a wing who can switch any pick and roll, rebound and stay active in the passing lanes is a huge boost. Add in some stellar perimeter defense and you have to give the Defensive MVP honors to Toupane.
The moment his defense really stood out was against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies, as a team, shot 2-26 from beyond the arc, and for the 25 minutes that Toupane was on the floor, he was flying around and contesting every shot that went up in his vicinity. He was able to switch 1-4 (in Summer League) and contain on the perimeter with great success.
Toupane stayed fundamentally sound and almost never fell for a shot fake. Add in a tenacious approach to attacking the defensive glass and the ability to rebound and run, and his defensive potential begins to turn into points. Axel Toupane collected 15 rebounds in three games, all defensive.
He played within himself and clearly separated himself from JaKarr as a potential third wing on the Nuggets opening-day roster. His ability to play strong and quick led to him averaging two steals a game without any unnecessary gambles. It was a wonderful three games defensively from Axel Toupane.