The NBA playoffs have just started, and so has award season.
On Monday, Memphis Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. was named the Defensive Player of the Year after averaging a league-high 3.0 blocked shots per game in the regular season.
Jackson is now the second-youngest player to win the award and only the fourth player to do so before reaching his 24th birthday.
Jaren Jackson Jr. (23 years, 214 days) is the 2nd youngest #KiaDPOY in NBA history (Dwight Howard, 2008-09) and just the 4th player to win the award at 23 or younger (joining Dwight, Alvin Robertson and Kawhi Leonard). https://t.co/OZBoyaefea pic.twitter.com/kH3MmeYuun
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) April 17, 2023
The youngest Defensive Player of the Year winner in NBA history is Dwight Howard, who took home the award during the 2008-09 season, which was his first of three consecutive such awards.
Unlike some Defensive Player of the Year winners, Jackson is also a legitimate offensive threat.
He put up 18.6 points a game this regular season, which ranked third on the Grizzlies, while shooting 50.6 percent overall and a solid 35.5 percent from 3-point range.
That production earned him his first trip to the NBA All-Star Game.
Against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of Memphis’ first-round playoff series on Sunday, Jackson exploded for 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting while going up against Anthony Davis, himself a standout defensive big man.
However, Memphis fell to the Lakers, 128-112, as they were unable to hold back the offensive firepower of LeBron James and crew.
To make matters worse, the Grizzlies’ prospects are looking poor, as star guard Ja Morant injured his hand late in Sunday’s contest and likely won’t be able to play in Game 2.
But even if they go down in a sweep to L.A., the Grizzlies have a very bright future, and Jackson is a big reason why.NEXT: Fans React To Jaren Jackson Jr. Winning DPOY Award