Kawhi Leonard Wins Defensive Player of the Year, Again

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty)

San Antonio Spurs wing Kawhi Leonard won the Defensive Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season, and one doesn't need to look very far into the past to see why.

In his team's Sunday-night first-round playoff matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, Leonard denied Griz wing Lance Stephenson the ball to the point of anger.

He also came up with three blocks and four steals to go with 20 points in his the Spurs' 106-74 shellacking of Memphis.

Leonard was the defensive leader of the league's best defense—with the Spurs holding opponents to 92.9 points per game and a league-best defensive rating of 96.6 points per 100 possessions. That rating was 94.9 when the 6'7" small forward was on the floor and more than four points higher—99.2—when he was off.

Leonard is a rare two-time winner as a perimeter player for an award that's typically handed out to centers, who tend to have more defensive responsibility as rim protectors.

In addition to guarding his opponents' best scorers, Leonard led the Spurs in scoring during the regular season at 21.2 points per game to go with 1.78 steals and 0.99 blocks.

His closest competition for the award was Draymond Green, who finished second to Leonard in 2014-15 as well.

The 2014 NBA Finals MVP was named to his first All-Star team this season.

 

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