The awards honoring the top performers from the 2022-23 regular season begin rolling out on Monday night (7 p.m. ET, TNT) with the Kia Defensive Player of the Year. Before the announcement, we break down the numbers of the three finalists: Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez and Cleveland’s Evan Mobley.
Update: Jaren Jackson Jr. was named the Kia Defensive Player of the Year.
Box Score Stats
We begin with the basics and compare their traditional box score stats: defensive rebounds, steals and blocks per game. While these numbers don’t tell the full story of a player’s defensive impact, they are easy to compare historically.
The next step is to examine the advanced metrics for a more in-depth look at how each player effects the game on the defensive end. There is the all-encompassing defensive win shares metric, as well as team defensive efficiency when each player is on the court. In addition, we compare the percentage of team defensive rebounds, steals and blocks each finalist collects while on court.
Last season, Boston’s Marcus Smart became the first guard in 26 years to win the Kia Defensive Player of the Year award as it has been dominated by big men in recent history. That is the case again this year as all three finalists play center or power forward and stand 6-foot-10 or taller.
A key defensive metric for all big men is rim protection, which examines the field goal percentage opponents shoot while the player is defending the basket. Not every player blocks a ton of shots, but they can still be a great rim protector by altering shots and forcing opponents into a low field goal percentage near the basket.
Defense Matchups By Position
With the game becoming more and more position-less, the need for defensive versatility has never been higher. All three finalists have shown the ability to defend outside the paint and have split their time between defending guards and wings as well as big men.
Defensive FG% by Distance
In addition to rim protection data, we also have a breakdown of opponent field goal percentage when a player is the closest defender to the shooter from all over the court. Here we compare how the finalists stack on shots within six feet, within 10 feet, beyond 15 feet and from 3-point range, which is 22 feet in the corners and just under 24 feet above the break.
Based on the numbers provided, which finalist would get your vote for the 2022-23 Kia Defensive Player of the Year? Find out the results of the official voting tonight on TNT.