As the Memphis Grizzlies and their fans wait in anticipation for an update on the health of Ja Morant, his teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. was awarded some serious hardware on Monday.
The Grizzlies center was the favorite to win the Defensive Player of the Year award for much of the season, and those notions wound up coming true.
Jaren Jackson Jr. Is The 2022-23 Defensive Player of the Year
JAREN JACKSON JR. WINS DPOY 🔒 pic.twitter.com/B9f80TR3Jt
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 17, 2023
Jackson Jr. had his coming out party defensively last season, by leading the league in blocked shots and anchoring the Grizzlies attack. But he was new on the scene in the eyes of the voters, and finished 5th in DPOY polling for the 2021-22 season.
Things got even better for Jackson Jr. during 2022-23. He led the league in blocks for the second season in a row, and did so by improving his numbers from 2.3 per game to an impressive 3 flat. Brook Lopez and Nik Claxton tied for second with an average of 2.5.
Interestingly enough, just hours before Jaren Jackson Jr. was announced as the winner, the NBA announced new rules beginning next season that would have made Jackson Jr. ineligible to win any post season awards this year. He failed to play what will be the minimum of 65 games in order for consideration, participating in only 63 during the regular season.
Had that rule been in place for this season, then it would have been Brook Lopez bringing home the hardware. The Bucks center was the only player given any serious consideration from the voters, and there was a time in February when he nearly closed the gap on Jaren Jackson Jr. when it came to DPOY odds at the sports books.
Jackson Wouldn’t Have Won Under New Rules
Under the new CBA rules (announced today), Jaren Jackson Jr. would be ineligible to win any postseason awards due to not meeting the minimum requirement of 65 games played. https://t.co/x0if9ZXJAj
— Anthony Cardenas (@SportsByTone) April 17, 2023
Jackson Jr. received 56 first place votes, with Lopez getting 31. Evan Mobley of the Cavaliers received 8 and Draymond Green got 3. Bam Adebayo and Joel Embiid were the only other players who received even a single first place vote.
A couple of the more interesting players who received votes were Alex Caruso and Jimmy Butler, who received 2 and 1 third place votes, respectively.
Jackson Jr. winning the award gets it back in the hands of a front court player after Marcus Smart took home the hardware last season. He was the first guard to take home the DPOY since Gary Payton in 1995-96.
Jackson Jr. and the Grizzlies are facing an uphill battle in the playoffs as they look to figure out how to defeat LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
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