Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
The Pacers have been all about transparency this season: they tell the whole world what they want, and then they go out and try to get it. And that goes beyond their widely-known mission of getting homecourt advantage in the playoffs by earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference (which, if you haven’t noticed, is going quite well).
On Nov. 6, Hibbert hit the send button on this tweet: “DPoY. Goodnight!” Minutes later, he followed with this tweet: “People act like I can’t have individual goals. I didn’t talk about it in the past. Well now I am. I WANT DPoY. That’s gonna help my team win.” And now, he’s the frontrunner by a long shot.
As every last Pacers player will tell you, Hibbert’s ability to intimidate all comers at and around the rim allows them to gamble to their collective heart’s content everywhere else on the floor. Thus, you have the league’s top-ranked defense by a huge margin (93.6 points allowed per 100 possessions; second-ranked Chicago is 97.4). On the individual front, Hibbert is second only to Davis in blocks per game (2.59 per game compared to three) while leading all centers in the extremely relevant category of opponents’ field-goal percentage at the rim at 41.6%.