Since 2001 - 2002, the inaugural season of the NBA Development League, just three guards have been privileged enough to take home the Defensive Player of the Year award. You can now add a fourth to the list.
On Monday afternoon, the D-League announced that DeAndre Liggins of the Sioux Falls Skyforce has been named 2013-2014 NBADL Defensive Player of the Year. He led the Skyforce to an impressive record of 31-19, good for the fourth-seed in the playoffs.
Other quality candidates included teammate Justin Hamilton and Dallas Lauderdale of the Idaho Stampede. Earlier this month, I wrote a column explaining why Hamilton, Skyforce's dominating big man deserved the hardware. Liggins, however, is certainly a respectable choice.
RidiculousUpside.com's Managing Editor Keith Schlosser wrote a piece on Saturday, explaining why Liggins may be the league's most athletic player. This may very well be true, and it is certainly an attribute that helped the former Kentucky Wildcat throughout the season.
His athleticism, combined with his quick feet and energetic play, make him an absolute nightmare for opposing guards. Liggins hounded them, both on the perimeter and in the paint, which led him to lead the league in total steals (109) and steals per game (2.6). In fact, his 109 steals are the most in one season since Orien Green's 131 in the 2009-2010 campaign.
Liggins also helped his team hold opponents to league-lows of 45.1% shooting from the field and 100.1 points per 100 possessions. Aside from his impressive defense, the 6-6 guard averaged 14.2 points and 7.1 rebounds in 42 games, while earning himself two 10-day contracts with the Miami Heat midseason.
Here are defensive highlights from Liggins' season, courtesy of nba.com/dleague/