Kawhi Leonard named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for second straight season

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Kawhi Leonard has been named as the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, the league announced on Monday. 

Leonard was the main defensive lynchpin for the San Antonio Spurs who had the best defence in the league during the regular season. 

The award caps a great year for the 24-year-old where he averaged career numbers of 21.2 points, 2.6 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game.  

On the defensive end, he produced 1.8 steals and one block a game and has enhanced his reputation as one of the best two-way players in the entire league. 

Leonard received 84 first place votes and 547 total points from a panel of 130 sports writers and broadcasters throughout the U.S. and Canada, beating Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors who came in second.

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside came in third with 83 points and two first-place votes. DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap made up the top five.

Per ESPN, Leonard is just the second perimeter player in NBA history to win the award in consecutive seasons, joining Milwaukee's Sidney Moncrief in 1982-83 and 1983-84.

He also became the first non-center to win back-to-back awards since Dennis Rodman in the early '90s.

As a team, the Spurs allowed 92.9 points, the fewest points per game during the regular season, three points fewer than the Utah Jazz in second.

The Texas-based outfit recorded a franchise-high 67 wins in the year and Leonard had a huge role to play in that achievement. 

He has had the best season of his relatively young career and was named as an All-Star for the first time. The 6-foot-7 small forward is racking up the accolades as he already has a championship ring and a finals MVP trophy.

In any other year, the San Diego State product would also be looking at MVP honours, but Steph Curry is expected to beat him to it.

As satisfying as the individual awards are, Leonard and the Spurs have their eyes firmly focused on team success and reclaiming the championship from Oakland.  

They were in a determined mood on Monday night as they easily dispatched the Memphis Grizzlies 106-74 in Game One of their first-round playoff encounter. 

Kawhi was at his best on both ends dropping 20 points on 61.5 percent shooting from the floor in the process.

He has been a defensive force in the league since he made his debut in 2011 and has proven himself to be adept at guarding some of the league's best players such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

Stopping those two players is no mean feat, yet Leonard has managed it on numerous occasions against them and continues to come out on top in those particular battles.  

After overcoming Draymond Green to the DPOY award, his next aim is to beat the Warriors' defensive stopper in a potentially mouthwatering Western Conference finals matchup.  

San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division
Western Conference
Kawhi Leonard
Tony Parker

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