After finishing runner-up the past two years in a row, Draymond Green is finally the NBA defensive player of the year.
The Golden State Warriors had the best defense in the NBA behind Green, who became the first player in the team’s history to finish with 150 steals and 100 blocks in a season. Green finished second in the league in steals (154), three behind leader John Wall, and 11th in blocks (105).
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to go out there and do what I love everyday,” he said. “This isn’t an individual award, it’s five guys on the floor everyday. I can’t do this myself so I appreciate them."
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Green, who won Olympic gold in 2016 with Team USA, was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team for the third year in a row, leading all vote-getters with 198 points and 99 first-team votes. Rudy Gobert and Kawhi Leonard, who rounded out the top three in voting for the team, were the other two nominees for defensive player of the year. He finished second to Leonard in defensive player of the year voting in each of the last two seasons.
Russell Westbrook, who won gold with Team USA in 2012, was named NBA MVP in his ninth season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In 2012, at the London Olympics, Westbrook averaged 8.5 points, 1.6 assists and 1.6 rebounds for the U.S. as the team captured its second straight gold medal.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.