Even after finishing second in MVP voting and winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2015-16, Kawhi Leonard did not receive a single vote in a preseason survey of NBA general managers who were asked to name the best small forward in the game. Every vote went to LeBron James or Kevin Durant. None of the league's executives were ready to make the claim that Leonard was a better player.
Despite that -- and reporting from ESPN's Brian Windhorst that many top players find praise for Leonard excessive -- there's plenty of evidence to suggest Leonard has outplayed KD and LeBron this season, especially when going up against the NBA's best small forwards.
So, who has been among the top three? Let's take a look at Leonard's case in our latest player rankings.