The 2022–23 season will mark the 42nd year that the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) award will be handed out. Over that time, we have seen some truly great defenders, including the likes of Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo, Dwight Howard, David Robinson, and Hakeem Olajuwon. However, with so many repeat award winners, only a select few have actually received Defensive Player of the Year honors.
In fact, there have been 10 multi-time winners who have combined to win 19 times, meaning only 32 players have ever actually won the award. While that makes winning the award all the more impressive, it is perhaps too exclusive. As a result, that has led to some pretty big snubs over the years, some of which are so egregious that they undermine the stated goal of giving out the award to the best defensive player in the NBA each season.
Historically, centers have usually dominated the award, which has often resulted in guards and forwards not receiving the recognition that they deserve. With that being said, let’s take a look at the 20 players who should have won Defensive Player of the Year but ultimately never did. Let’s get started!