Besides the Most Valuable Player honor, the Defensive Player of the Year award is arguably the most important individual recognition the NBA hands out. After all, not every player is called upon to create offense for their team, but everybody has to defend.
Whether Kobe Bryant or a sixth-grader on a junior high basketball squad, one must earn the title of a lockdown defender. But the art of defending isn't as simple as keeping your opponent at bay on offense. An elite defender must be able to play help-side effectively, either swat shots or collect steals on a regular basis and boost up team morale with hustle plays.
In the NBA, one would automatically be placed in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation if he filled these qualifications. In a league mostly dominated on the offensive side of the court, quality defenders are rare and very valuable.