The 2011-12 NBA season is winding down and with a few more weeks left to play, it is time to speculate on who will win some of the NBA’s top awards. One of the more popular awards that everyone focuses on is the Defensive Player of the Year. This award is given to the top defensive player in the regular season as voted on by 124 sports writers and broadcasters from the United States and Canada. Each of them cast a first, second and third place vote. First place votes are worth five points, second place votes are worth three points and third place votes are worth one point. The person with the most points wins regardless of how many first place votes that person garners.
Here are some of the top candidates to overthrow three-time winner Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
5). Carlos Boozer, Forward, Chicago Bulls
Carlos Boozer is a very underrated player when talking about defense. Boozer is one of the two great defenders the Bulls have, the other being Joakim Noah. Boozer has improved his blocks per game average and has averaged 6.8 defensive rebounds per game this season as well. Boozer is scheduled to play in more games than he did last season being that he is at 57 games and only played 59 a season ago.
4). Josh Smith, Forward, Atlanta Hawks
When you think of Josh Smith, you may think of some of the electrifying plays that he has made during his time with the Hawks. This season, Smith has stepped it up defensively and should be a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Smith has been on the defensive glass upping his defensive rebound per game total to 7.6 defensive rebounds per game. Smith also has increased his blocks per game average to 1.8.
3). Kevin Garnett, Forward, Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics‘ big three is getting older by the day but Kevin Garnett is showing that father time has no effect on his defensive ways. Garnett is one of the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year in my opinion. Garnett is fourth in defensive win shares, according to BasketballReference.com behind Howard, Smith and LeBron James. Garnett is an outside candidate to win.
2). Serge Ibaka, Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder
Serge Ibaka has been on the highlight reel this season showing his marvelous blocks that he posted this season. Ibaka leads the NBA in total blocks with 203, almost 100 more than the second place Denver Nuggets forward JaVale McGee. He also leads the league in blocks per game with 3.6 which is one more per game than McGee as well. Ibaka is a prime candidate to win this award this season.
1). Dwight Howard, Center, Orlando Magic
Dwight Howard is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year award winner and could be the winner again if Ibaka does not pull of the upset. Howard is the leader in defensive rebounds with 585 defensive rebounds which is more than Kevin Love‘s 507 he has recorded this season. Howard has been the center of controversy this season but his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award could solidify his spot as one of the best defensive players in the NBA all-time.