For the second year in a row, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

The fourth-year man out of San Diego State received 547 points and 84 first-place votes from a voting panel that consisted of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was the runner-up with 421 points and 44 first-place votes. Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside was third with 83 points and two first-place votes.

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Individually, Leonard is regarded as the best perimeter defender in the league, taking on the challenge of guarding the opposing team’s best players every night. Collectively, his Spurs, who posted a 66-16 record and finished second in the Western Conference, allowed the fewest points per game during the season. To assess Leonard’s impact on the game, noted that the Spurs had a defensive rating of 94.9 with him on the court, compared to 99.2 when he wasn’t.

Leonard recorded 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, while ranking fifth in the NBA in Defensive Real Plus-Minus. He was the only non-power forward or center in the top 25.

Leonard is just the second perimeter player to win the award in consecutive seasons, joining Sidney Moncrief in 1982-83 and 1983-84.

The Spurs currently lead the Memphis Grizzles 1-0 in the opening round of the Western Conference Playoffs.

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About The Author Derrell Bouknight

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