Leonard and Green finished 1-2 in Defensive Player of the Year voting each of the past two seasons. This marks the first time Green has gotten the better of Leonard, and it’s a well-deserved honor for the Warriors star.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein laid out a compelling case for Green as the NBA’s best defensive player during the 2016-17 season:
“Who but Green could rank as the only player on the league map to rack up 100-plus blocks and 100-plus steals for the second successive season while also placing in the top five—just one spot behind Gobert—in terms of opponents’ field-goal percentage at the rim?
“Entering the weekend, opposing players were shooting just 40 percent from the floor and turning the ball over in 14 percent of head-to-head confrontations with Green.”
There were other numbers that support Green’s case as the NBA’s top defensive player. He ranked first in defensive box plus-minus and second in defensive rating, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Playing on a team with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson can make it easy for everyone else to get lost in the shuffle. Green stands out for his ability to defend all five positions, allowing the offense to steamroll opponents with ease.
For all of his efforts, Green has been rewarded with the NBA Defensive Player of the Year trophy and capped off a memorable season in which he helped the Warriors win an NBA title with a 16-1 playoff record.
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