Each of the NBA's 29 teams nominated one player from their roster “who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court,” then a panel made up of former NBA players Tommy Heinsohn, Eddie Johnson, Gil McGregor, Ed Pinckney and Kenny Smith selected the four divisional winners from the pool of nominees. The award winner is chosen from the four divisional winners in vote by a 126-member panel of local and national pro basketball writers and broadcasters. The winner receives the Joe Dumars Trophy, named for the Detroit Pistons guard who won the inaugural sportsmanship award in 1996.
|Steve Smith, San Antonio||Midwest||G/F||65|
|P.J. Brown, Charlotte||Central||F||28|
|LaPhonso Ellis, Miami||Atlantic||C/F||22|
|Shawn Marion, Phoenix||Pacific||F||11|
|Defensive Player of the Year Award||Annual Awards||J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award|