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Kawhi Leonard.

Watch: Kawhi Leonard makes his MVP case in 24-second span

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I hate to say I told you so.

Even before Monday's 112-110 win against fellow MVP candidate James Harden, San Antonio Spurs do-everything star Kawhi Leonard should have been right in the middle of the conversation about the award.

After this amazing performance, he should be right at the top.

Too often, MVP chatter revolves around just offensive numbers, but the former San Diego State star has an advantage on Harden and Russell Westbrook that should put him over the top: His dominant defense.

It's how Leonard made a name for himself in this league, bothering LeBron James in his Miami Heat days in back-to-back NBA Finals matchups.

In the video below here, Leonard shows off the full menu of why he should be the MVP, from knocking down the game-winning 3-pointer, then blocking Harden's potential game-tying layup, and then securing the rebound in traffic to ice the game.

The best part of the video might be the look that his teammates on the bench -- including Manu Ginobili -- give after the 3-pointer.

Leonard would close the game with an amazing stat line, scoring 39 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out five assists. He did all this on 18 shots from the field and was perfect on his 11 free-throw attempts.

All of this overshadowed Harden's 39-point, 12-assist effort, which was hampered by seven turnovers, some that Kawhi helped contribute to on the defensive end.

His coach, Gregg Popovich, is on board with Leonard's special two-way prowess.

While being careful to designate that they are not exactly comparing the two, Popovich has compared Kawhi's two-way effort to Michael Jordan.

Recently, so did Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry in an article by the San Antonio Express-News newspaper.

“You don’t want to say Michael Jordan,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said, “but it is that type of situation where you have a really, really good offensive player and a tremendous defensive player.

“He definitely has to be heavily in the conversation for MVP.”

New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns

Leonard and the Spurs (49-13) are still 2.5 games behind the Golden State Warriors to the top playoff seed in the Western Conference.

However, while San Antonio has Sacramento on Thursday, the Warriors have a tough game against the Boston Celtics.

Then, the league's top two teams will meet on Saturday night in San Antonio for the first ot two remaining matchups.

If Kawhi and the Spurs are able to catch the Warriors, who might be without Kevin Durant for the rest of the regular season, it could be Kawhi's MVP award after all.

Topics:
San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division
Western Conference
NBA
Manu Ginobili
Houston Rockets
Michael Jordan
Kawhi Leonard
Michael Jordan
James Harden

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