New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year on Thursday.
Leonard, who became only the sixth forward to lead the NBA in steals per game since the league started tracking the statistic 42 years ago, garnered 37 first-place votes and 333 total points from a panel of 129 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
Golden State's Draymond Green finished a close second in the balloting with 317 points, despite more first-place votes with 45. The Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan finished third with 261 points (32 first-place votes). New Orleans' Anthony Davis also received over 100 total points, garnering 11 first-place votes and a total of 107 points by the voters.
Leonard, the first Spurs player to win the award since David Robinson in 1991-92, averaged career highs of 2.31 steals and 5.9 defensive rebounds to help anchor a Spurs defense that held opponents under 100 points per game (97.0) for the 20th consecutive season.
According to NBA.com/Stats, San Antonio ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 99.6 points per 100 possessions. The Spurs gave up only 97.1 points per 100 possessions when Leonard was on the court, a defensive rating that would have led the league over the entire season. When Leonard was off the court, though, San Antonio permitted 102.2 points per 100 possessions, a league-average defensive rating.