Posted: April 20, 2010, 1:55 PM ; Updated: April 20, 2010, 2:07 PM
NBA's Top Defensive Player is...
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Dwight Howard has won his second straight NBA defensive player of the year award after becoming the only player to lead the league in blocks and rebounds in the same season twice -- let alone in consecutive years.
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and players confirmed the All-Star center will accept the award at a news conference Tuesday at 2 p.m.
"I think it's a well deserved honor," Van Gundy said. "He's the most impactful defensive player."
Howard averaged 13.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game this season, powering the Magic to the league's second-best record behind Cleveland. Only Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ben Wallace each led the NBA in those categories once in the same season. Blocks were not kept as an official statistic until 1973.
Howard already was the youngest player to win the award last season. Now 24, players and coaches believe he could take the honors for years to come.
The man they call Superman swooped in to effect more shots than he blocked this season, changing games with his presence in the paint. Howard has been a matchup nightmare against almost every team, the main reason the Magic kept opposing shooters to an NBA-low 43.8 percent shooting.
The No. 1 overall draft pick out of high school in 2004, Howard has quickly become one of the most dominant centers. His chiseled, 6-foot-11, 275-pound physique makes him one of the most intimidating players, and his incredible vertical leap is even rarer for a big man.
Certainly not a player easy to get around.
"I was always trying to dunk on Dwight," teammate Vince Carter said of his time before he came to the Magic this season. "If you ask him, he'll say, no, but it happened a few times. But whatever, we won't talk about that.
"You always have to know he's going to be there. He has great instinct. It's always on your mind. You know if you beat your man, you still have to get around Dwight."
Howard led the Magic to the NBA finals last year, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. The Magic also have won three straight Southeast Division titles, and they had 59 wins in the regular season for the second straight year.
Orlando leads Charlotte 1-0 in the first round of the playoffs. Howard blocked nine shots in the opener, enough for Bobcats coach Larry Brown to call him the "most valuable player" of the game despite scoring just five points.
Game 2 is Wednesday night.
Howard is the seventh player to win the award in back-to-back seasons, joining Wallace, Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Dennis Rodman and Sidney Moncrief. Wallace and Mutombo each won the award a league-record four times.
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