Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic is the recipient of the 2008-09 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, the NBA announced today.
The 6-11 center led the NBA in rebounds and blocks, averaging 13.8 boards and 2.92 blocks. He also averaged 20.6 points on .572 shooting from the floor. Howard recorded nine 20-point/20-rebound games while leading the team in scoring 39 times and in rebounds on 69 occasions.
Howard, a three-time NBA All-Star, helped the Magic to its second consecutive Southeast Division title (59-23), including a 32-9 record at home. The Magic held opponents under 100 points 54 times this season — compiling a 43-11 record — including a season-low 68 points allowed by New Orleans on Dec. 25. Orlando allowed 94.4 ppg (7,737 points), which ranked sixth in the NBA, and overall the team was in the NBA’s top 10 in seven defensive categories.
Howard became the fifth player in NBA history to finish the season leading the league in rebounding and blocks (1973-74 was the first season blocks were kept as an official statistic). The select group includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (L.A. Lakers, 1975-76), Bill Walton (Portland Trail Blazers, 1976-77), Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston, 1989-90) and Ben Wallace (Detroit, 2001-02).
Howard received 542 points, including 105 first-place votes, from a panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Cleveland’s LeBron James finished second with 148 points and Miami’s Dwyane Wade finished third with 90 points. 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 received.
Finishing fourth was Shane Battier, fifth was Ron Artest, sixth was Chris Paul, seventh was Kobe Bryant, eighth was Kevin Garnett, ninth was Chris Andersen and 10th was Rajon Rondo.