VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard named NBA Finals MVP

Kawhi Leonard

The Spurs' small forward won the 2014 Finals Most Valuable Player award in just his third season in the league.

Kawhi Leonard's teammates erupted when the 22-year-old small forward was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 NBA Finals, and even coach Gregg Popovich was forced to smile.

In a roster made up of fantastic players but no true 'superstar', Leonard emerged as the team's future and perhaps its best player in just his third NBA season.

The Spurs had no shortage of excellent performances over the course of the series. Tim Duncan continues to thwart Father Time, Manu Ginobili turned back the clock with his best playoff performance for years, and San Antonio's role players came up huge.

But Leonard stood out as the outstanding player on both sides of the ball, and he fully deserved to be recognised as the Finals' best player.

"Right now it's just surreal to me," he said after being handed the trophy by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. "I had a great group of guys behind me just pushing me, just wanting me to be aggressive in the game and that just helped me out".

The Spurs' improvement over the past three years matches Leonard's growth since he came into the league. In his rookie season they fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, before falling one game short of the title last year against Miami. 

Now they have gone one better, even peaking within the series as soon as Leonard managed to put all his skills together and stay out of foul trouble.

Duncan and Popovich may now bow out after securing their fifth title together, 15 years after winning their first. But they can rest assured that the future of basketball in San Antonio is safe in the gigantic hands of Kawhi Leonard.