For the second consecutive season, the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. Leonard, a 6’7″ small forward, became the first noncenter to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons since Dennis Rodman did so in 1989/90 and 1990/91. The 24-year-old received 84 first-place votes and 547 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters. He beat out the Warriors’ Draymond Green, who notched 44 first-place votes and 421 points to finish as runner-up for the second season in a row. The Heat’s Hassan Whiteside came in third with 83 points, garnering two first-place votes. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote, according to the release.
Leonard, a first-time NBA All-Star this season, anchored a Spurs defense that led the NBA in points allowed (92.9 ppg) and defensive rating (96.6 points per 100 possessions). The Spurs, who were a franchise-record 67-15 this season, were significantly tougher on defense with Leonard in the game. According to NBA.com, they had a defensive rating of 94.9 when the five-year veteran was on the court and 99.2 when he wasn’t — a difference of 4.3 points per 100 possessions. Leonard also averaged 1.78 steals, which was good for 12th in the NBA, 5.5 defensive rebounds and a career-high 0.99 blocks to go with career highs of 21.2 points and 2.6 assists on the offensive end.
Any time an award is handed out there will be some who disagree with the selected recipient and this year’s DPOY award choice is likely no different. We at Hoops Rumors want to know whom you thought was deserving of the award. Listed below are the players who received votes, as well as a number of players who were mentioned by readers in the comments section. Cast your vote below for whom you believe should have won this season’s Defensive Player of the Year award.