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Kawhi Leonard Wins Defensive Player of the Year Award

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  • Kawhi Leonard Wins Defensive Player of the Year Award

    Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio Spurs wins NBA Defensive Player of Year Award

    San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard won the 2014-15 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, prevailing in a close three-way race over Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green and Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.

    Leonard, the reigning NBA Finals MVP, took home the defensive honor despite not having the most first-place votes. Leonard's 333 points in the voting system were enough to edge out Green, who had 317 points even though he earned 45 first-place votes to Leonard's 37. Jordan finished third in the voting with 32 first-place votes and 261 points overall. New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis finished a distant fourth, with 107 points and 11 first-place votes.

    At 6-foot-7, Leonard is the shortest player to win the award since Ron Artest (Metta World Peace) in 2003-04. Each of the previous 10 Defensive Players of the Year were power forwards or centers. He also is the first player since 1982-83 (first season of the award) to win a Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Award without having previously made an All-Star team.

    Injuries limited Leonard to just 64 games this season. But he still made an enormous impact, especially on defense. He helped the Spurs finish third in defensive rating with 99.6 points allowed per 100 possessions during the regular season. When he was on the floor, the Spurs allowed just 97.1 points per 100 possessions, a number that jumped to 102.2 when he wasn't playing.

    Leonard is the first Spurs player to be honored as the league's top defender since David Robinson in 1991-92. Leonard led the NBA in steals with 2.31 per game, becoming just the sixth forward to pace the league in that category since it became an official stat 42 years ago.

    Leonard also posted career highs in several statistical categories in 2014-15, including points (16.5), rebounds (7.2), assists (2.5) and minutes per game (31.8).