Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas on why Kawhi Leonard is the NBA MVP

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots as Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) defends during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The San Antonio Spurs are in first place in the Western Conference, and the play of Kawhi Leonard is huge reason why.

In Monday's game against the Atlanta Hawks, Leonard scored 31 points. This marked the 24th time this season he has scored at least 30 points in a game.

During Monday's "Players Only" halftime show on TNT, Pistons great Isiah Thomas gave his thoughts on Leonard's MVP candidacy, and even said he would have been successful during his playing days.

''Absolutely he would have been able to play in my day because he plays defense," Thomas said. "When you talk about him on the offensive side of the ball, his pick-and-roll game is spectacular right now. He quickly takes up the space, and he is really good at the fake and comes back to the old school jump hook.''

Thomas nabbed Leonard as the best two-way player in the NBA. He also noted his improved ball handling and decision making.

"When he sees the defender on the move, that defenders challenging hand goes down," Thomas said. "As soon as the challenging hand goes down, he is up into his shot. This is how great Kawhi Leonard has become, and this is why he's my MVP of the year."

The race for MVP has largely been a two-man race between Russell Westbrook and James Harden. However, Leonard has emerged as a candidate after an impressive stretch of games. At this point, Leonard's team is higher in the standings, and he is making an impact on both sides of the floor.

If the Spurs finish with the best record, it will be hard to ignore his case for MVP.

Twitter: @OhMarquez

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