Even though the National Basketball Association is a scorer's league now more than ever, every single team needs a lockdown defender to stand a chance in the playoffs. The offense can win you a game or two, but the defense can take you the distance in the NBA Finals.

With that in mind, GMs and coaches leave no stone unturned looking for those guys who can play lockdown D. So, if they can also hit the occasional three or be a positive factor in the offensive end of the floor, you better believe they'll log plenty of minutes.

Those guys don't often get the recognition they deserve, nor the big contracts they would've gotten if they were scorers. But here, we'll honor them by letting you know about three dark horse candidates to win DPOY.

NBA Rumors: Dark Horse Candidates To Win DPOY

3. Jrue Holiday

Several NBA players can all agree that Jrue Holiday is the best defender in the league, yet he rarely gets any love for Defensive Player of the Year. That might change now that Marcus Smart is the reigning winner of the award.

Holiday has long arms and is deadly in passing lanes. He can pick your pocket in the blink of an eye, and his length allows him to haunt rival players all over the court and force turnovers and tough shots.

2. Alex Caruso

Alex Caruso became popular and a fan favorite as a joke, but he earned every single minute of playing time and every penny of his contract. His grit, energy, and hustle make him a major factor for the Chicago Bulls.

Caruso is the ultimate ball-hawk. He'll dive and put his body on the line on every 50/50 ball and will hound opposing guards and stick to them like a fly on a frog's tongue. He's pesky, suffocating, and physical.

1. Gary Payton II

The Golden State Warriors will regret lowballing Gary Payton II. He was a massive contributor to their recent success and was perhaps the best perimeter defender in the league last season, even ahead of Smart.

Payton II went from an afterthought and barely making the Dubs' roster to getting a big payday, all thanks to his defense and hustle. Just like his old man, he can even check bigger players and is strong enough to hold his own in the post.