Grizzlies center is NBA’s best defender

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Memphis, TN-Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol is the recipient of the 2012-13 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, the NBA announced today. Gasol is the first player in Grizzlies history to receive the honor.

Gasol (7-1, 264) received 212 points, including 30 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.

“On behalf of my teammates and our coaching staff, I am grateful to be named the Defensive Player of the Year,” Gasol said. “We had a great season, especially on the defensive end, and that is due to the hard work of everyone involved.”

With Gasol anchoring the middle, Memphis was the NBA’s stingiest defense this season, surrendering a league-low 89.3 points to opponents during the regular season. The Grizzlies became the first NBA team since the 2005-06 season to allow fewer than 90 points per game to their opponents.

The 28-year-old led Memphis in blocked shots (1.74) for the fifth consecutive season and was one of six players to average at least 1.50 blocks and 1.00 steals per game.

Memphis also ranked near the top of the league this season in defensive categories such as field goal percentage allowed (.435, 3rd), three-point field goal percentage allowed (.338, 2nd), total rebounds allowed (39.1, 1st) and forced turnovers (15.5, 6th).

In terms of advanced statistics, Memphis recorded a +7.5 score differential when Gasol was on the court as opposed to a -3.9 when he was off the floor, according to