The Most PPG By The Defensive Player Of The Year: Michael Jordan Averaged 35 Points Per Game And Was The Best Defender In The League (2022)

The Most PPG By The Defensive Player Of The Year: Michael Jordan Averaged 35 Points Per Game And Was The Best Defender In The League (1)

One of the most important accolades a player can capture during their career is a Defensive Player of the Year Award. Only one player wins it each year, and only a few have captured it over the entirety of the NBA. The defense has always been the calling card of major NBA teams in the past, and oftentimes the best defensive team will be one of the best teams in the entire league.

Even today, when rule changes and freedom of movement have limited defensive players from truly shining, it is still relevant as the teams who have won the NBA titles are still great defensive teams. The Warriors had multiple lock-down defenders on the team this past season, while the runner-up Boston Celtics had one of the best defensive lineups in the entire league last season. Defense still wins championships, and this will never change.

We have also witnessed some incredible defensive players dating back to the very first winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, and these stars have managed to alter their team’s play with their tenacity and basketball IQ. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the Defensive Player of the Year winners have been centers or big men. That is due to their incredible size and ability to make an impact playing in the paint. But have the majority of big men who won the DPOY award managed to average a high number of points?

We have collected the highest scorers among DPOY winners throughout NBA history. Playing defense at a superstar level is not easy by any means, but competing on both ends of the court is even harder. Scoring the ball at a star level and also locking down the opposing position is a trait only known to be found in the truly elite players in their generation. Without further ado, here are the top scorers among players who won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

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10. Sidney Moncrief - 20.9 PPG (1983-84 Season)

The Most PPG By The Defensive Player Of The Year: Michael Jordan Averaged 35 Points Per Game And Was The Best Defender In The League (2)

Moncrief was a special player because he had a special tenacity on both ends of the floor. The guard was a freakishly dedicated defender, always sticking to his man and playing with pride when he was tasked with guarding the league’s best players every single night. In fact, Moncrief was so dominant that many regarded him as the best player in the league behind Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Moncrief’s consistency on defense and overall talent and skill earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame which is well-deserved.

But he was not just a one-trick pony in terms of being a defender because he was capable of scoring the ball at a high level. Averaging 20.9 PPG in the 1984 season, Moncrief impacted both ends of the court, which is why he also made the All-Star Team. The winner of the first two DPOY awards, Moncrief was truly a unique player and special talent during the 1980s.

9. Kawhi Leonard - 21.2 PPG (2015-16 Season)

Current superstar Kawhi Leonard was always an elite defender from the moment he stepped foot in the NBA. Thanks to his elite athleticism, size, and massive hands, The Claw could be a dominant player to try to score against. Of course, he was lucky enough to be raised in the San Antonio Spurs system alongside other two-way Hall of Famers, including Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, and under the leadership of Gregg Popovich. In time, Leonard also became a very effective go-to scorer.

During the 2016 season, when Leonard won his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award, he managed to average an impressive 21.2 PPG on 50.6% from the field, 44.3% from three, and 87.4% from the line. This also marked the first time The Claw made the All-Star Team and the first time he ever averaged at least 20 PPG. Of course, Leonard would go on to take his scoring through the roof in the following season by averaging 25.5 PPG and has not slowed down since.

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8. Alonzo Mourning - 21.7 PPG (1999-00 Season)

One of the greatest defensive players ever, Alonzo Mourning, would retire with 2 Defensive Player of the Year awards to go along with 2 All-Defensive Teams and 7 All-Star selections. Alonzo was a dominant shot-blocker who finished with a career average of 2.8 BPG and had 4 seasons averaging at least 3 BPG. His career-high came in the 1999 season when he averaged 3.9 BPG.

The following season, in 2000, Alonzo managed 3.7 BPG, which led the NBA for the second year in a row. Except for this time, Alonzo took his scoring up to 21.7 PPG on 55.1% from the field. The big man had a solid inside presence due to his strength and size and also had a jump hook. Not to mention, the Mourning could nail the mid-range shot when open. Mourning has to be one of the best players in Miami Heat history because even Pat Riley often credits the big man for being one of the most critical players in the Heat’s history- and his defense was a big part of it.

7. Sidney Moncrief - 22.5 PPG (1982-83 Season)

Sidney Moncrief appears on the list yet again, this time thanks to his 22.5 PPG during the 1983 season when he captured the very first Defensive Player of the Year award. The guard had the physical tools to be effective thanks to his height at 6’4” and also his quickness, but “The Squid” was simply an intelligent player on both ends of the floor. His 22.5 PPG average in 1983 ended up being Moncrief’s career high.

The shooting guard averaged 52.4% from the field in the year while also swishing through over 82% of his foul shots. Moncrief’s offensive ability was normally overshadowed by his defense, which should not come as a surprise when he was one of the greatest perimeter defenders we had ever seen. With 5 All-Defensive Teams to his name, Sidney has to be mentioned among the top-10 defensive specialists who ever lived.

6. Dwight Howard - 22.9 PPG (2010-11 Season)

Dwight Howard generated a ton of criticism over his career because he never truly developed a go-to move inside the post. Dwight normally relied on his ability to catch lobs around the rim and also clean up offensive rebounds, but he was still able to have a career average of 15.7 PPG and have 4 seasons averaging at least 20 PPG. His best season, offensively, came with the Orlando Magic in 2011.

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Howard averaged his career-high 22.9 PPG in 2011, nailing 59.3% of his shots from the field as they were always near the basket. The center was the leader behind the Orlando Magic team that made the Finals in 2009, and that was the first time he captured the Defensive Player of the Year award. That means that in the 2010-11 season, Dwight averaged his career-high in scoring while also capturing his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award, truly impressive achievements by one of the most underrated players of all time.

5. David Robinson - 23.2 PPG (1991-92 Season)

David, “The Admiral” Robinson, won the coveted Defensive Player of the Year award for the San Antonio Spurs in the 1991-1992 season by averaging 4.5 BPG and 12.2 RPG. Robinson was a unique talent who could do it on both ends of the floor on a consistent basis. The Spurs are known for their desire to be a franchise built on tough defensive play, and Robinson was the epitome of this in 1992. Robinson was not the last Spur to win the award, as an excellent player would later join him, Kawhi Leonard.

Robinson is another player that is often undermined by other great players in his position, as many will immediately point toward Hakeem Olajuwon instead of honoring what The Admiral was on the court. He was supremely built with an incredible physique and used his power to bully defenders down low. He also had a solid mid-range shot, and the ability to make free throws consistently never scaped him. Robinson is arguably a top-30 player ever, and his two-way was a result of that.

4. Hakeem Olajuwon - 26.1 PPG (1992-93 Season)

The Most PPG By The Defensive Player Of The Year: Michael Jordan Averaged 35 Points Per Game And Was The Best Defender In The League (3)

Without a doubt, Hakeem Olajuwon was a special player, as he managed to win two straight NBA titles for the Houston Rockets. Hakeem was a force on offense, revolutionizing what it means to have strong footwork in the post. But his defensive prowess often goes unremembered, as he won two straight DPOY Awards to add to his first-ballot Hall of Fame resume. Olajuwon could block shots with the best of them, rebound the ball, and spearhead a strong defensive squad that included the likes of Vernon Maxwell and Otis Thorpe.

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His first Defensive Player of the Year award came in 1993 when he averaged an incredible stat line of 26.1 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, and 4.2 BPG on 52.9% shooting from the field and 77.9% from the foul line. Hakeem “The Dream” was dominant on both ends of the floor, and his 1993 season average of 26.1 PPG ranks 5th in his career behind other elite scoring averages. Of course, a year later, The Dream would complete his brace of Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1994 along with other important achievements.

3. Hakeem Olajuwon - 27.3 PPG (1993-94 Season)

Olajuwon would win his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award, which sat nicely alongside his MVP award, NBA championship, and Finals MVP award. No doubt, the 1994 season has to be one of the greatest in NBA history by a single player and Hakeem made it look so easy. Fooling defenders with the “Dream Shake” while also dominating the boards and the defensive end never looked so smooth.

In 1994, Hakeem averaged 27.3 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 3.7 BPG while nailing 52.8% from the field and 71.6% from the foul line. The big man had another all-time great season considering the circumstances, and leading the Houston Rockets to the NBA championship in the absence of other superstars on his team was his biggest achievement.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo - 29.5 PPG (2019-20 Season)

Giannis Antetokounmpo had one of the best seasons in modern history when he managed to capture the Defensive Player of the Year and regular-season MVP award in the 2019-20 season. The Greek Freak came into his own as a bona fide superstar, posting 29.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.0 BPG while nailing 55.3% from the field. Giannis began showing glimpses of having a consistent jumper as well, which put the league on notice.

The Greek Freak has to be one of the most freakish athletes in sports history, let alone NBA history. Standing 6’11” and 242 lbs, Giannis is incredibly large but still moves around the court with extreme ease. We have not seen a player get from one end of the court to the other consistently in just a dribble or two before, but Giannis makes it look easy. His 29.5 PPG average is incredibly high for a player who won Defensive Player of the Year, but it still isn’t the highest ever.

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1. Michael Jordan - 35.0 PPG (1987-88 Season)

No doubt about it, Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan deserved the only Defensive Player of the Year Award he won. Michael was part of a dynamic defensive duo with Scottie Pippen that picked offensive players up the entire length of the court once the small forward came into his own as a superstar of his own. But in 1988, Pippen was still a rookie who played 20.9 MPG and averaged 7.9 PPG. It was up to Jordan to dominate both ends of the floor, and he usually made the big defensive plays to seal victories for his team.

Jordan’s Defensive Player of the Year award in the 1988 season has to be one of his greatest achievements because he was forced to carry the Bulls' offense as well. The shooting guard averaged an incredible 35.0 PPG on 53.5% shooting from the field, while also defending the opposing team’s best player. While Michael did not win the championship as he was ousted by the rival Detroit Pistons led by Isiah Thomas, his regular-season accomplishments and stats have largely led the masses to believe they had seen the greatest play of all time. In many ways, the 1987-88 season from Michael Jordan might be the greatest individual season ever, and averaging 35.0 PPG while winning the Defensive Player of the Year award is a major part of that.

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FAQs

Who played the best defense on Michael Jordan? ›

Joe Dumars

He was most known for his phenomenal defense on Michael Jordan during the Pistons' title runs during the late 80's and early 90's. No one ever, as an individual defensive stopper, did a better job guarding Michael.

When did MJ average 37 ppg? ›

Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 points per game in 1986-87.

How many Defensive Player of the Year did Jordan win? ›

He won the Rookie of the Year award, 1 Defensive Player of the Year award, 5 MVP awards, 6 Finals MVP awards and 6 NBA championships.

Was Michael Jordan ever Defensive Player of the Year? ›

Michael Jordan is one of five players to have won both an MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year award in their career. David Robinson won the award in the 1991–92 NBA season. Gary Payton was the first point guard to win the award. Dwight Howard won the award in three consecutive years (2009–2011).

Who was Michael Jordan hardest defender? ›

For his career, Joe Dumars averaged 16.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG and 3.5 APG. Michael Jordan even acknowledged Joe as the toughest defender he has ever faced.

How many PPG did Michael Jordan average in his best season? ›

I usually go by points per minute to see what the best scoring seasons were for any player, but here, to make it easy, we go with regular season ppg. Note: In 1985-86 Jordan averaged 22.7 points in only 25.1 minutes a night, but only played 18 games. Jordan averaged 20.0 ppg as a 40-year-old—an NBA record.

What was Michael Jordan's highest PPG in a season? ›

Interpreted as:
NAMESEASONPPG
Michael Jordan1989-9033.6
Wilt Chamberlain1965-6633.5
George Gervin1979-8033.1
Allen Iverson2005-0633.0
17 more rows

Who has the highest PPG average in NBA history? ›

NBA/ABA
RankPlayerPPG
1.Michael Jordan*30.12
2.Wilt Chamberlain*30.07
3.Elgin Baylor*27.36
4.Kevin Durant27.18
145 more rows

Who is the best defensive player of all time NBA? ›

In this picture, there are two of the greatest defensive leaders in the NBA History; those two are Kevin Garnett and Bill Russell.
...
Best Defensive Leader: Bill Russell
  • Bill Russell.
  • Kevin Garnett.
  • Ben Wallace.
  • Dikembe Mutombo.
  • Willis Reed.

Who's the best defensive player in the NBA? ›

Franchise: Utah Jazz, Position: Center. The NBA Defensive Player of the Year award owner in the 2020-21 season, Rudy Gobert, is at the top of the list this time. It is no wonder he led the league with 190 blocks and 720 defensive rebounds.

Who has the most defensive player of the year awards NFL? ›

Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award
Presented byAssociated Press
History
First award1971
Most winsLawrence Taylor J. J. Watt Aaron Donald (3 each)
Most recentT. J. Watt
2 more rows

Who won MVP and Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP? ›

#1 Giannis Antetokounmpo

Fresh off his championship run with the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo won his first Finals MVP to join elite company. Along with his Finals MVP, Giannis is also a two-time NBA MVP and the 2019-20 Defensive Player of the Year.

Who has better stats LeBron or Jordan? ›

LeBron James: Regular season stats. Jordan is superior in the scoring department, but James grabs rebounds and dishes out assists at a higher rate. While both players are known for tenacious defense on the wing, Jordan finished first in the league in steals three times in his career.

Did LeBron ever won Defensive Player of the Year? ›

The 2008-09 season saw James win the first MVP award of his illustrious career. And he came close to winning the DPOY award as he finished second behind Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard.

Was Jordan better on offense or defense? ›

Jordan was the best player in the NBA on defense and by far the best player on offense. On top of all this, he won the dunk contest this year too. Even crazier, this was only his fourth season in the NBA, and he missed almost all of his sophomore year with an injury.

Who was a better defender Jordan or Pippen? ›

Jordan was a nine-time All-Defensive team selection, while Pippen was a 10-time selection. Pippen never won a Defensive Player of the Year award like Jordan did in 1987-88. Jordan also led the league in steals three times, while Pippen only did so once.

Did Gary Payton lock up MJ? ›

Gary Payton Had Michael Jordan on Lock in the 1996 NBA Finals, but Only After 'Mr. Sonic' Returned. Despite Michael Jordan's assertion in The Last Dance that he had “no problem” with Gary Payton during the 1996 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics, the numbers show otherwise.

Who had harder competition LeBron or Jordan? ›

The overall picture. There were 82 playoff opponents to consider in all — 37 for Jordan, 45 for James. If you simply take the average rating of every team they played, Jordan comes out on top with the harder slate.

What is the biggest rivalry in the NBA? ›

The 6 Biggest NBA Rivalries of All Time
  • Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • LA Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs.
  • New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat.
  • Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks.
  • Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls.
  • LA Lakers vs. Boston Celtics.
Jun 3, 2022

What was the hardest team Jordan played? ›

1. The 1985-1986 Boston Celtics. The 1985-1986 Boston Celtics were a stacked team with five Hall of Famers: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Bill Walton and Dennis Johnson.

What was Michael Jordan's highest scoring game? ›

Michael Jordan had his most points in a game versus the Cavaliers on March 28, 1990, with 69 points.

What was Michael Jordan's best year statistically? ›

1: 1990-1991. Michael Jordan's first championship season was by far his best as a Chicago Bull. During the regular season, MJ led the league by scoring 31.5 points a night. He also had six boards, 5.5 assists, 2.7 steals while shooting a career-high 53.9 percent from the field.

What year was Michael Jordan's best year? ›

While Jordan did all this in 4 different seasons, many believe that his 1995-96 season is the most perfect season for an individual player. Along with all this, he led the Bulls to a 72-10 regular-season record, which was the best in NBA history until it was bettered by the Warriors in 2016.

Who is the best defensive player in the NBA of all time? ›

Best Defensive Leader: Bill Russell

In this picture, there are two of the greatest defensive leaders in the NBA History; those two are Kevin Garnett and Bill Russell. A defensive leader can have such a positive impact on a certain player.

Was Scottie Pippen a better defender than Michael Jordan? ›

Jordan was a nine-time All-Defensive team selection, while Pippen was a 10-time selection. Pippen never won a Defensive Player of the Year award like Jordan did in 1987-88. Jordan also led the league in steals three times, while Pippen only did so once.

Was Jordan a better defender than Lebron? ›

Jordan is superior in the scoring department, but James grabs rebounds and dishes out assists at a higher rate. While both players are known for tenacious defense on the wing, Jordan finished first in the league in steals three times in his career.

Videos

1. Kevin Durant Exposes LeBron's Overrated Defense - 2017 NBA Finals
(Nobody Touches Jordan)
2. Micheal "Air" Jordan's Greatest highlights| Is he better than LeBron James? Goat?
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3. Best Of Michael Jordan's Rookie Season | The Jordan Vault
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5. BOB PETTIT ENTERS THE NBA! | I Reset The NBA to 1949 and Re-Simulated NBA HISTORY (Episode 3)
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6. Bulls @ Lakers - March 1989. PG Jordan 16 assists
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