ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dwight Howard will become the first player in league history to be named the NBA's defensive player of the year for three consecutive seasons, league sources confirmed Monday.
Howard averaged 14.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and a career-high 1.3 steals for the Magic this season. He ranked second in the NBA in rebounds behind Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, and was tied for second in blocked shots behind Bucks center Andrew Bogut.
It could be the first of several awards Howard earns this postseason. He is considered a top candidate for MVP along with Derrick Rose and LeBron James. Howard is also expected to be a first-team All-NBA selection.
For now, the seventh-year center would settle for leading the Magic to a playoff victory on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks. Orlando lost Game 1 at home on Saturday despite a playoff career-high 46 points and 19 rebounds from Howard, who also had eight turnovers and a block in 46 minutes.
The Magic have scheduled a 1:30 p.m. ET news conference after the team's practice for what was deemed "a major announcement."
Howard joins Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo as the only players to win the award at least three times since the league began handing out the honor after the 1982-83 season. Wallace is the only player to win it four times.
Howard garnered a near-unanimous nod among 35 staffers in an ESPN.com poll, with one vote going to Bulls guard Keith Bogans and one to Suns forward Grant Hill.
Michael Wallace covers the NBA for ESPN.com.