The NBA has started to reveal its award winners as the postseason has begun, so I will reveal my ballot (if I voted on said award) with an explanation of the vote.
Defensive Player of the Year
Winner: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Second Place: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Third Place: Hasaan Whiteside, Miami Heat
Vince Goodwill’s Ballot:
First place: Leonard. Quite possibly the most dangerous and disciplined defender on the perimeter in today’s game, and he had just as great a season this year in his second-straight award-winning campaign. As evidenced by Memphis’ Lance Stephenson throwing a near temper-tantrum over the weekend when he couldn’t shake free of Leonard’s perfect positioning and fundamentals, Leonard is the head of the best defensive team in the league and, with apologies to Paul George and Jimmy Butler, the best two-way player in the game.
Second place: Green. It wasn’t easy to put Green second on the list. For Golden State’s ever-shifting lineups, he can defend any position from center to catching opposing point guards on switches. His versatility made Golden State the 73-win bunch it was, along with Stephen Curry’s uniqueness. Being able to defend from the perimeter to the post, rebounding amongst the true trees and being one of the league’s premier help defenders, in most years he’d be a winner.
Third place: Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks. Miami’s Hassan Whiteside finished third on most ballots but Millsap’s versatility ranks right up there with Green and Leonard. Atlanta’s aggressive, trapping defense wouldn’t be what it was if not for Millsap being able to keep guards in front of him and stay solid on the block. A defensive rating of 96 points per 100 possessions along with averaging nearly two blocks and two steals made him an easy choice to round out the top 3.