How our ballot would look


Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Player of the Year will look closer to MVP voting than to Rookie of the Year in that this one could go one of two ways – there’s no clear-cut right answer this season.

Our voters landed on Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. for Defensive Player of the Year this season but just barely, with Jackson Jr. edging out Milwaukee Bucks big man Brook Lopez by just one vote.

This one is truly tricky.

The Grizzlies rank third in the NBA in defensive rating (110.6 points allowed per 100 possessions) while the Bucks rank fourth (110.8 points allowed per 100 possessions), two point-stopping units anchored by their big men, Jackson Jr. and Lopez.

Jackson Jr. leads the NBA in nightly rejections at 3.0 blocks per game while Lopez ranks third at 2.5.

Advanced analytics for defense are notoriously not the most reliable but even there, the two big men rank near each other, with Jackson Jr. having the higher DBPM (2.0 vs. 1.3 for Lopez) and Lopez taking the nod in Defensive Win Shares (3.9 vs. 3.8 for Jackson Jr.).

In the end, with the Grizzlies being the slightly better defensive team this season and Jackson Jr. leading the NBA in blocks (and he’s not just a shot-blocker as Jackson Jr. has the foot speed and hip mobility to defend wings and guards adequately, too), our voters went with the former Michigan State Spartan as Defensive Player of the Year for 2022-23.

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