The San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, who helped his team finish with the NBA’s top defense this season, is the recipient of the 2015-16 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, the league announced.
Leonard, a versatile 6-7 forward and emerging superstar, becomes the first non-center to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons since Dennis Rodman in 1989-90 and 1990-91.
A first-time NBA All-Star this season, Leonard contributed to a San Antonio defense that led the NBA in points allowed (92.9 ppg) and defensive rating (96.6 points per 100 possessions).
The Spurs, a franchise-record 67-15 this season, were even stingier on defense with Leonard in the game: According to NBA.com/Stats, they had a defensive rating of 94.9 when the five-year veteran was on the court, and 99.2 when he wasn’t – a difference of 4.3 points per 100 possessions.
Leonard also averaged 1.78 steals (12th in the NBA), 5.5 defensive rebounds, and a career-high 0.99 blocks to go with career highs on offense of 21.2 points and 2.6 assists.
Leonard received 84 first-place votes and 547 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. He edged the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, who tallied 44 first-place votes and 421 points to finish as runner-up for the second season in a row. The Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside was third with 83 points (two first-place votes).
Below is the list of all-time winners:
Season Winner, Team
1982-83 Sidney Moncrief, Milwaukee
1983-84 Sidney Moncrief, Milwaukee
1984-85 Mark Eaton, Utah
1985-86 Alvin Robertson, San Antonio
1986-87 Michael Cooper, L.A. Lakers
1987-88 Michael Jordan, Chicago
1988-89 Mark Eaton, Utah
1989-90 Dennis Rodman, Detroit
1990-91 Dennis Rodman, Detroit
1991-92 David Robinson, San Antonio
1992-93 Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston
1993-94 Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston
1994-95 Dikembe Mutombo, Denver
1995-96 Gary Payton, Seattle
1996-97 Dikembe Mutombo, Atlanta
1997-98 Dikembe Mutombo, Atlanta
1998-99 Alonzo Mourning, Miami
1999-00 Alonzo Mourning, Miami
2000-01 Dikembe Mutombo, Philadelphia
2001-02 Ben Wallace, Detroit
2002-03 Ben Wallace, Detroit
2003-04 Ron Artest, Indiana
2004-05 Ben Wallace, Detroit
2005-06 Ben Wallace, Detroit
2006-07 Marcus Camby, Denver
2007-08 Kevin Garnett, Boston
2008-09 Dwight Howard, Orlando
2009-10 Dwight Howard, Orlando
2010-11 Dwight Howard, Orlando
2011-12 Tyson Chandler, New York
2012-13 Marc Gasol, Memphis
2013-14 Joakim Noah, Chicago
2014-15 Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio
2015-16 Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services