Memphis Grizzlies forward/center Jaren Jackson Jr. was named the 2022-23 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the NBA announced today.
This marks the first NBA Defensive Player of the Year award for Jackson Jr., who becomes the second player in franchise history to receive the honor (Marc Gasol in 2012-13). Jackson Jr. is the second-youngest player in NBA history (Dwight Howard) to be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year and becomes one of four 23-year-olds to win the award (Kawhi Leonard in 2014-15; Howard in2007-08; Alvin Robertson in 1985-86).
The 6-foot-11 Jackson Jr., whose defense helped propel the Grizzlies to a 51-31 record (second in the Western Conference) and the team’s second straight Southwest Division championship, received 391 points (56 first-place votes) from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.
Jackson Jr. led the NBA in blocks per game (3.0) and block percentage (9.6) for the second consecutive season and tied for second in total blocks (189). He surpassed his own single-season franchise records in all three categories while also establishing career bests with 18.6 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Behind Jackson Jr., Memphis led the Western Conference and ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating (110.7) and held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage (45.3%) and largest field goal percentage difference (-2.2%). Individually, when serving as the primary defender, Jackson Jr. led the NBA in field goal percentage allowed at the rim (46.9% on 454 contests) with a minimum of 20 shots defended.
Jackson Jr. also averaged 1.0 steals per game and led the NBA in combined steals and blocks per game (career-high and franchise-record 4.0). He became one of four players since the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award was instituted in the 1982-83 season to lead his team to a Top 5 defensive rating while also averaging at least 1.0 steals and 3.0 blocks, joining Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Ben Wallace.
The five-year NBA veteran was named to the 2021-22 NBA All-Defensive First Team last season. He was selected by Memphis with the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft following his freshman year at Michigan State University, where he won the 2017-18 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award.
Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez (309 points, 31 first-place votes) and Cleveland’s Evan Mobley (101 points, eight first-place votes) finished second and third in the voting, respectively.