Kawhi Leonard A Strong Value Play For 2022-23 Defensive POY

Two-time DPOY winner has long odds, but big potential in his return

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The Clippers come into the 2022-23 NBA season with renewed title hopes. After winning just 42 games last year, they have a roster that's expected to start the season fully healthy again, and the potential for a deep playoff run looms.

The return of Kawhi Leonard without a doubt contributes to these high hopes the most, and his ability to dominate on both ends of the court has been a key missing asset for this organization.

For all the talk about his MVP market, let's also remember he's a two-time defensive player of the year, and his value on the DPOY odds board at +6600 to win it again is hard to ignore.

Sure, in this case Leonard is considered a long-shot or a deep sleeper, or whatever else you want to call his odds. That being said, he still has the resume to at least tempt you in this market.

The voting for the award just last year was already spread out with a ton of reasonable candidates on the market.

It was a rare moment to see a guard in Marcus Smart come away with it this past season, with Gary Payton having been the last in 1996. Smart is tied with Draymond Green for the fifth-best odds to win again in 2023 (+900 on BetMGM), and it's more than likely he doesn't win it again.

Mikal Bridges finished second behind Smart in last year's DPOY voting, and there's a solid amount of people in league circles that thought he deserved to win it. At just 37%, Smart had the lowest share of first-place votes by any winner of one of the NBA’s five major player awards since 2015. That was the year that Kawhi Leonard won it with just 29% of first-place votes.

Kawhi has won the award with plenty of competition in the past, and if he plays a majority of the Clippers' games this season (always a toss up), he has the chance to jump back into the conversation with the rest of names at the top of this list.

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