- No trophy for this one, but still one hell of an accolade.
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard took second place for the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award, just edging out LeBron James.
To take second in the association's MVP voting places a player among the league's elite. And it shows that a bit of shift has occurred among NBA pundits. Time was that a player like Leonard, who averaged 21 points and not quite 7 rebounds per game this season, probably wouldn't sniff the top five of an MVP ballot. But advanced metrics have helped quantify Leonard's value, and have promoted a better understanding of how the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year impacts the game.
But it should be noted that this was not a normal MVP race. It was over in November. There was no other choice this year but Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
Curry added one more laurel to his unprecedented season: He became the first player in league history to be the unanimous MVP. All 131 voters gave him their first place vote.
And he deserves it. He was the best player on a team that set the regular season wins record. He broke his own record for three-pointers in a season by over 100 threes. By any measure on paper, and any eye-test-driven comparison, he was the best player.
But Leonard should be lauded too, and this vote is proof. With a Finals MVP, a championship ring and two Defensive Player of the Year trophies already on his mantle, he's already put together a career most players would lust after.
Although Spurs fans remember, it's easy to forget that this is only his fifth season. Not bad for a guy considered a gamble after the Spurs traded George Hill for him.