The San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard won the 2015-16 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award on Monday. Hours after leading the Spurs to a 106-74 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the NBA playoffs, the NBA announced Leonard as the preeminent defensive player.
For the second year in a row, Leonard was named the top defensive player. He received 84 first-place votes and 547 points by a group of 130 sportswriters. The Warriors’ Draymond Green earned second place with 44 first-place votes, while Hassan Whiteside earned third place with two first place votes.
At 6-7, the small forward continued to display stellar perimeter defense all season, helping the Spurs to the No.1 defense in the NBA. They held opponents to 92.9 points per game this season and had the top defensive rating at 99. The Spurs also held opponents to 43.6 percent from the field this season. As a team, they were No. 1 in 3-point defense at 33 percent.
Leonard is the first non-center to win back to back Defensive Player of the Year Award’s since Dennis Rodman earned the honor from 1989-1991. Like Rodman, Leonard’s versatility on the defensive end stands out. He can guard four positions, on or off the ball, and has the strength to battle in the post.
The Spurs finished the season with a (67-15) record and earned the No. 2 spot in the west. It was their best NBA record of all time. In addition, the Spurs gaudy record finally helped Leonard make his first All-star game appearance.
During Game 1 of the series, Leonard wouldn’t let Lance Stephenson get the ball on one possession. The tenacious defense caused the Grizzlies to alter their plans and Stephenson threw his hands in disgust. It was more evidence of the many different ways Leonard can stymie an offensive game plan.
Leonard averaged 21.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals for the Spurs. He was a hair away from earning a block per game.
2015-16 KIA NBA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR RESULTS
Player | Team | 1st place (5 pts) | 2nd place (3 pts) | 3rd place (1 pt) | Total Points
Kawhi Leonard | San Antonio Spurs | 84 | 41 | 4 | 547
Draymond Green | Golden State Warriors | 44 | 62 | 15 | 421
Hassan Whiteside | Miami Heat | 2 | 12 | 37 | 83
DeAndre Jordan | Los Angeles Clippers | 0 | 7 | 29 | 50
Paul Millsap | Atlanta Hawks | 0 | 3 | 12 | 21
Avery Bradley | Boston Celtics | 0 | 1 | 11 | 14
Rudy Gobert | Utah Jazz | 0 | 1 | 10 | 13
Tony Allen | Memphis Grizzlies | 0 | 1 | 2 | 5
Anthony Davis | New Orleans Hornets | 0 | 1 | 1 | 4
Andre Drummond | Detroit Pistons | 0 | 1 | 0 | 3
Jimmy Butler | Chicago Bulls | 0 | 0 | 2 | 2
LeBron James | Cleveland Cavaliers | 0 | 0 | 2 | 2
Trevor Ariza | Houston Rockets | 0 | 0 | 1 | 1
Jae Crowder | Boston Celtics | 0 | 0 | 1 | 1
Al Horford | Atlanta Hawks | 0 | 0 | 1 | 1
Kyle Lowry | Toronto Raptors | 0 | 0 | 1 | 1
Chris Paul | Los Angeles Clippers | 0 | 0 | 1 | 1