The NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) award given since the 1982–83 NBA season to the best defensive player of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of 124 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada, each of whom casts a vote for first, second and third place selections. Each first-place vote is worth five points, second-place voted are worth three points, and a third-place vote is worth one. The player with the highest point total, regardless of the number of first-place votes, wins the award.
Since its inception, the award has been given to 20 different players. Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace have each won the award a record four times. Dwight Howard is the only player to ever win the award in three consecutive seasons. Sidney Moncrief, Mark Eaton, Dennis Rodman, Hakeem Olajuwon, Alonzo Mourning, and Kawhi Leonard have each won it twice. The most recent award recipient is Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs.
Although five of the first six winners were perimeter players, the award has traditionally been given to big men who rebound and block shots. Only seven perimeter players have been honored: Moncrief, Alvin Robertson, Michael Cooper, Michael Jordan, Gary Payton, Ron Artest (known now as Metta World Peace), and Kawhi Leonard.Payton is the only point guard to have won. Jordan, Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Kevin Garnett are the only Defensive Player of the Year winners to have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) during their careers; Jordan and Olajuwon won both awards in the same season. In Olajuwon's case, he is the only one to have also won the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award and the NBA championship in the same season. On four occasions, the Defensive Player of the Year recipient was not voted to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in the same year. Robertson in 1986, Mutombo (1995), Tyson Chandler (2012), and Marc Gasol (2013) were instead named to the second team. Whereas the Defensive Player of the Year is voted on by the media, the All-Defensive teams were voted on by NBA coaches prior to 2014.
No player trained completely outside the U.S. has won this award. Out of the three winners born outside the U.S., Mutombo and Olajuwon both played U.S. college basketball, and Gasol played U.S. high school basketball. Joakim Noah has played for the France national basketball team, but was born in New York City, and played both high school and college basketball in the U.