The NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award is one of the NBA’s prestigious annual awards. It is given to the best defensive player of the regular season. The winner is chosen by a panel of 124 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
The winner of the 2023 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award will be the 41st in the award’s history. They will join the likes of Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace, and Rudy Gobert as some of league history’s greatest ever defenders.
Individual ability is paramount to a player’s chances at the award. Some of the season’s block and steal leaders are certain to be in contention for the award. Excellent individual defense is always the measure for the award winner.
Let’s answer some of the most important questions about the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award!
Who is the Favorite to Win NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2023?
(C) Rudy Gobert – 7-1, 258 lb (216 cm, 117 kg) – France
Gobert met Ja at the rim 😱 pic.twitter.com/v2bLY20I26
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 27, 2021
Season Team Age Games MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% 2021-22 UTA 29 66 32.1 15.6 11.7 1.3 0.7 2.1 .713 .000 The frontrunner for the 2023 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award is three-time winner Rudy Gobert. After being traded from the Utah Jazz to the Minnesota Timberwolves, he is sure to want to put in a strong debut season.
Gobert for his career is averaging 12.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 2.1 blocks per game. He is even coming off of the best rebounding season of his career, having averaged 14.7 boards over 66 games.
A big part of being the favorite is surely his history as one of the league’s best defenders. However, off the back of a disappointing post-season run and trade, Gobert looks set for a big year.
Who are 2023 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Contenders?
(C) Robert Williams – 6-8, 237 lb (203 cm, 107 kg) – Texas A&M
Robert Williams III block party
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 17, 2022
Season Team Age Games MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% 2021-22 BOS 24 61 29.6 10.0 9.6 2.0 0.9 2.2 .736 .000 Second to the favorite for the Defensive Player of the Year is Boston Celtics big man Robert Williams. He was one of the contenders last year too, eventually being beat out by teammate Marcus Smart for the award.
Williams is an excellent shot-blocker, coming off of a year when he posted 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks in 29.6 minutes per game. As the lynchpin of the Boston Celtics’ defense, he is expected to make another jump this year.
It’s tough to see any NBA center overtaking Rudy Gobert as the prime big man in the NBA, but Williams certainly has the potential. How he adjusts to his role as first-choice center for the Celtics will determine his odds for Defensive Player of the Year.
(C) Bam Adebayo – 6-9, 255 lb (206 cm, 115 kg) – Kentucky
ANOTHER LOOK AT BAM ADEBAYO’S INCREDIBLE GAME-WINNING BLOCK! pic.twitter.com/RCzQ7FdLDR
— NBA (@NBA) September 16, 2020
Season Team Age Games MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% 2021-22 MIA 24 56 32.6 19.1 10.1 3.4 1.4 0.8 .557 .00 Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo makes his way into the favorites list for Defensive Player of the Year. Not only is he an all-around threat on the offensive side of the ball, but his job on the defensive end is just as important for the Heat.
Adebayo isn’t stellar in either steal or block category to warrant a nomination based on stats. He’ll need to improve his numbers while also being the standard for one of the league’s most organized defenses.
(F) Giannis Antetokounmpo – 6-11, 242 lb (211 cm, 109 kg) – Greece
Today’s the one-year anniversary of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s block on Deandre Ayton and it was one for the ages pic.twitter.com/jRTFHCOSIg
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 (@sportingnews) July 14, 2022
Season Team Age Games MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% 2021-22 MIL 27 67 32.9 29.9 11.6 5.8 1.1 1.4 .553 .293 Antetokounmpo is such an offensive force that it’s easy to forget that he is the best defender on the Milwaukee Bucks team. His versatility is what makes him so dangerous, which is why he’ll surely be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.
Who Was the 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year?
Marcus Smart of the @celtics receives the 2021-2022 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award from Gary Payton! #KiaDPOY
He is the first guard to receive the award since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season. pic.twitter.com/kunKEW6ujj
— NBA (@NBA) April 18, 2022
The winner of the 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award was Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics. It was just the second time a Celtics player won the award, and the first time in almost 30 years that a backcourt player was named the winner.
In his award winning campaign, Smart averaged 12.1 points, 5.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game. He was crucial to the Celtics’ success, usually guard his oppositions most talented offensive player.
Smart’s win made him just the second-ever points guard to win the award. The first being NBA legend Gary Payton.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year by Year
Year Player Position Nationality Team 2022 Marcus Smart Point Guard United States Boston Celtics (2) 2021 Rudy Gobert (3) Center France Utah Jazz (5) 2020 Giannis Antetokounmpo Power Forward Greece Milwaukee Bucks (3) 2019 Rudy Gobert (2) Center France Utah Jazz (4) 2018 Rudy Gobert Center France Utah Jazz (3) 2017 Draymond Green Power Forward United States Golden State Warriors 2016 Kawhi Leonard Small Forward United States San Antonio Spurs (4) 2015 Kawhi Leonard Small Forward United States San Antonio Spurs (3) 2014 Joakim Noah Center France Chicago Bulls (2) 2013 Marc Gasol Center Spain Memphis Grizzlies 2012 Tyson Chandler Center United States New York Knicks 2011 Dwight Howard (3) Center United States Orlando Magic (3) 2010 Dwight Howard (2) Center United States Orlando Magic (2) 2009 Dwight Howard Center United States Orlando Magic 2008 Kevin Garnett Power Forward United States Boston Celtics 2007 Marcus Camby Center United States Denver Nuggets (2) 2006 Ben Wallace Center United States Detroit Pistons (4) 2005 Ben Wallace Center United States Detroit Pistons (3) 2004 Ron Artest Small Forward United States Indiana Pacers 2003 Ben Wallace (2) Center United States Detroit Pistons (2) 2002 Ben Wallace Center United States Detroit Pistons 2001 Dikembe Mutombo Center Democratic Republic of the Congo Philadelphia 76ers 2000 Alonzo Mourning (2) Center United States Miami Heat (2) 1999 Alonzo Mourning Center United States Miami Heat 1998 Dikembe Mutombo (3) Center Zaire Atlanta Hawks (2) 1997 Dikembe Mutombo (2) Center United States Atlanta Hawks 1996 Gary Payton Point Guard United States Seattle Supersonics 1995 Dikembe Mutombo Center Zaire Denver Nuggets 1994 Hakeem Olajuwon (2) Center Nigeria Houston Rockets (2) 1993 Hakeem Olajuwon Center Nigeria Houston Rockets 1992 David Robinson Center United States San Antonio Spurs (2) 1991 Dennis Rodman (2) Small Forward United States Detroit Pistons (2) 1990 Dennis Rodman Small Forward United States Detroit Pistons 1989 Mark Eaton (2) Center United States Utah Jazz (2) 1988 Michael Jordan Shooting Guard United States Chicago Bulls 1987 Michael Cooper Shooting Guard United States Los Angeles Lakers 1986 Alvin Robertson Shooting Guard United States San Antonio Spurs 1985 Mark Eaton Center United States Utah Jazz 1984 Sidney Moncrief (2) Shooting Guard United States Milwaukee Bucks (2) 1983 Sidney Moncrief Shooting Guard United States Milwaukee Bucks
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Are There Any Multi-Time Defensive Player of the Year Winners?
Awards Player Team(s) Years 4 Dikembe Mutombo Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks (2), Philadelphia 76ers 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001 Ben Wallace Detroit Pistons 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 3 Dwight Howard Orlando Magic 2009, 2010, 2011 Rudy Gobert Utah Jazz 2018, 2019, 2021 2 Sidney Moncrief Milwaukee Bucks 1983, 1984 Mark Eaton Utah Jazz 1985, 1989 Dennis Rodman Detroit Pistons 1990, 1991 Hakeem Olajuwon Houston Rockets 1993, 1994 Alonzo Mourning Miami Heat 1999, 2000 Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs 2015, 2016
Does the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Receive A Prize?
The winner of the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award doesn’t receive a prize outside of the trophy itself. In terms of cash incentives or bonuses, there are none.
It is written in many players’ team contracts that they receive a bonus upon receiving the award, but that is subject to the terms of the team agreement and not the NBA organization.
In a less direct sense, the Defensive Player of the Year in the current climate would be awarded much more exposure, the opportunity for endorsements, and nationally broadcasted matches for his team. The truest prize for the Defensive Player of the Year is the fact that their name is written in history as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Is the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Determined by Fan Vote?
No, fans of the NBA do not have a say in who will be awarded Defensive Player of the Year. Unlike All-Star voting, the Defensive Player of the Year is voted upon by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters across the United States and Canada.
Fan votes are reserved for the NBA All-Star Game, where they make up 50% of the total. Votes by current NBA players and a panel of media members account for 25% each.
The voting process for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year is as follows: Media members are allowed to award a player of their choice a “vote” ranked from first-place, worth ten-points, to third-place, worth one point. The player with the highest points total wins the award.
Has There Ever Been a Unanimous Defensive Player of the Year?
There has never been a unanimous winner for Defensive Player of the Year. The closest a player has come was Ben Wallace in 2002. The undersized Detroit Pistons center received 116 out of a total 120 votes for the award.
In his award-winning season, Wallace averaged 7.6 points, 13.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 3.5 blocks. It was just one of his four Defensive Player of the Year worthy years.
When Will the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award Winner be Announced?
The NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award is usually announced after the conclusion of the NBA regular season and Play-In Tournament. The team of the winning player tends to reveal the news publicly during the NBA Playoffs.
Prior to its cancellation, the prize would have been announced at the NBA Awards ceremony. Last year, the award news was also announced on a broadcast of Inside the NBA.
Who Won the First NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award?
The first ever winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award was shooting guard Sidney Moncrief of the Milwaukee Bucks. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member was equally a force on the offensive and defensive end of the court.
In his Defensive Player of the Year winning season, which also happened to be his second All-Star season, Moncrief averaged 22.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals, and just 2.4 fouls in 35.7 minutes per game.
Impressively, his first award-winning season was just a precursor to the fact that he would be the first to ever win Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons. He is truly one of the NBA’s greatest players!
Which Position Wins the Most Defensive Player of the Year Awards?
The center position has dominated the Defensive Player of the Year award with 25 wins. The other four positions on the court have won just 15 Defensive Player of the Year awards combined. As the game has evolved, it’s clear that many teams use the center position to define their defensive standards.
Awards Position Players Year Won 25 Center Mark Eaton 1985, 1989 David Robinson 1992 Hakeem Olajuwon 1993, 1994 Alonzo Mourning 1999, 2000 Dikembe Mutombo 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001 Ben Wallace 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 Marcus Camby 2007 Dwight Howard 2009, 2010, 2011 Tyson Chandler 2012 Marc Gasol 2013 Joakim Noah 2014 Rudy Gobert 2018, 2019, 2021 5 Small Forward Dennis Rodman 1990, 1991 Ron Artest 2004 Kawhi Leonard 2015, 2016 Shooting Guard Sidney Moncrief 1983, 1984 Alvin Robertson 1986 Michael Cooper 1987 Michael Jordan 1988 3 Power Forward Kevin Garnett 2008 Draymond Green 2017 Giannis Antetokounmpo 2020 2 Point Guard Gary Payton 1996 Marcus Smart 2022
Has a Rookie Ever Won NBA Defensive Player of the Year?
#NBA75 Africa Moment of the Day – Manute Bol blocks 15 shots in a game #NBAAfrica pic.twitter.com/1Xgy4jr6LC
— NBA Africa (@NBA_Africa) January 25, 2022
A rookie has never won the defensive player of the year award. The closest that a rookie has ever come to winning the award was Manute Bol in 1985-86. He finished second in voting for defensive player of the year, falling just five votes short of eventual winner Alvin Robertson.
In Bol’s rookie season with the Washington Bullets, he posted 3.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 blocks per game. He led the league in blocks per game, even beating out multi-time winners Mark Eaton and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Who Is the Youngest Ever NBA Defensive Player of the Year?
There are three players tied for defensive player of the year. They are Kawhi Leonard, Dwight Howard, and Alvin Robertson. Interestingly, all three players occupy different positions on the court. It’s clear that these fantastic defenders didn’t find experience to be an issue in their play.
Player Season Age Team Games PTS REB AST BLK STL PF Kawhi Leonard 2014-15 23 SAS 64 16.5 7.2 2.5 0.8 2.3 2.0 Dwight Howard 2008-09 23 ORL 79 20.6 13.8 1.4 2.9 1.0 3.4 Alvin Robertson 1985-86 23 SAS 82 17.0 6.3 5.5 0.5 3.7 3.6
Who Is the Oldest Ever NBA Defensive Player of the Year?
The oldest winner of the Defensive Player of the Year Award was Dikembe Mutombo after the 2000-01 NBA season. At 34 years old, a season split between the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers did not deter Mutombo’s defensive efforts.
Player Season Age Team Games PTS REB AST BLK STL PF Dikembe Mutombo 2000-01 34 ATL-PHI 75 10.0 13.5 1.0 2.7 0.4 2.7
Which NBA Franchises Have Won the Most NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards?
The Detroit Pistons have had most Defensive Players of the Year through the awards history. With six wins, four coming from Ben Wallace alone, the Pistons stand above the rest.
Number of Awards Team Years 6 Detroit Pistons 1990, 1992, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 5 Utah Jazz 1985, 1989, 2018, 2019, 2021 4 San Antonio Spurs 1986, 1992, 2015, 2016 3 Milwaukee Bucks 1983, 1984, 2020 2 Atlanta Hawks 1997, 1998 Boston Celtics 2008, 2022 Chicago Bulls 1998, 2014 Denver Nuggets 1995, 2007 Houston Rockets 1993, 1994 Miami Heat 1999, 2000 1 Golden State Warriors 2017 Indiana Pacers 2004 Los Angeles Lakers 1987 Memphis Grizzlies 2013 New York Knicks 2012 Philadelphia 76ers 2001 Seattle Supersonics 1996
Which NBA Franchises Have Never Won a Defensive Player of the Year Award?
There are twelve different NBA franchises that have failed to produce an NBA Defensive Player of the Year winner.
Brooklyn Nets Charlotte Hornets Cleveland Cavaliers Dallas Mavericks LA Clippers Minnesota Timberwolves New Orleans Pelicans Phoenix Suns Portland Trail Blazers Sacramento Kings Toronto Raptors Washington Wizards That isn’t to say that these teams haven’t been fantastic defensive clubs throughout their storied history. They just haven’t had that one player that rose above the rest through a whole NBA regular season.