Dwight Howard Wins Defensive Player of the Year

For the third straight year, Dwight Howard is the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. And for the first time ever, a player has won the award three consecutive years.

Howard was the runaway winner, garnering 114 of 120 first place votes winning by a healthy margin over Kevin Garnett, Tyson Chandler and Tony Allen. He was left off of one ballot.

Howard joins Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo as the other players to win the award three times.

Howard’s statistics took something of a step back this year — he did not lead the league in rebounding and in blocked shots as he did last year — but his defensive impact certainly did not. Orlando remained one of the top teams in the league defensively even after mid-season trades completely changed the makeup of the roster. Howard averaged 14.1 rebounds per game and 2.4 blocks per game this season, posting a league-best 94 defensive rating and 7.7 defensive win shares according to Basketball-Reference.

Howard became the youngest player to collect 7,000 rebounds in his career back in March and he recorded his sixth straight season of 1,000 rebounds and 100 blocks. He became one of only five players since 1973-74 to record at least 6,000 rebounds and 1,000 blocks in his first 500 career games.

“It means so much to me because I pride myself on playing great team defense and being the anchor for my team,” Howard said. “To know that nobody has ever done this three years in a row, I just thank God for allowing me to get through another season without any major injuries. I could have just stopped after winning one (Defensive Player of the Year) award, but I want our team to be successful and I know it starts with me and it starts on the defensive end. Me playing defense is about helping my team win. And I think that shows every night when I’m out there trying to be there for my team and erasing the defensive mistakes.’’

Orlando trails Atlanta 1-0 in the first round of the Eastern Conference with Game Two set for Tuesday night at Amway Center.

Photo via DayLife.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily