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Grizzlies’ Jackson named NBA Defensive Player of the Year

Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies was named this season's NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Photo: Joe Murphy/ NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP

Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., the NBA’s leading shot blocker for a second consecutive season, was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Monday.

The 23-year-old American, in his fifth NBA season all spent with the Grizzlies, won the award for the first time with 56 of 100 first-place votes and 391 total points from a global media panel.

Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks was second with 309 points and 31 first-place votes while Evan Mobley of the Cleveland Cavaliers was third with 101 points.

Jackson became the second-youngest player to win the NBA top defender award after Dwight Howard in 2009.

Jackson, whose father spent 13 seasons in the NBA and helped the San Antonio Spurs win an NBA crown in 1999, led the NBA with 3.0 blocked shots a game.

“You really put yourself second and everything that has to do with the team is first,” Jackson said. “(My dad) always did that in his career… he always wanted to play winning basketball. He was thankful enough to win a championship and that’s what I’m trying to do now, get one of my own.”

Jackson also averaged 18.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals a contest for a Memphis club that ranked third defensively in the NBA and finished second in the Western Conference at 51-31.

“Team defense really helps us go a long way,” Jackson said.

Jackson held opponents to an NBA-low 46.9% as the closest defender at the rim but is working to be more of a scoring threat as well.

“I’m trying to put it all together, be the best you can be, be a good all-around player,” Jackson said.

“The greatest two-way players, they had to do a lot. Had to have the endurance to be on both ends. It was really my pops. He had me working on all kinds of crazy stuff in the gym.”

Lopez averaged 2.5 blocked shots a game, sharing second in the NBA, as well as 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists a game.

Mobley 16.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 blocked shots a game.

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