Once again the San Antonio Spurs are atop the standings in the Western Conference and are one of the best teams in the NBA. That has pretty much become what we expect the Spurs to do every season. However, with the core of their team getting up there in years, you have to wonder how much longer they will be able to sustain this level of play.
San Antonio’s core has been Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker for the past several years. Duncan is 36 years old, Ginobili is 35 years old, and Parker is 30 years old. Parker still has a few years left before he’s truly considered “old,” but it feels pretty safe to say that Duncan and Ginobili are near the end of their NBA lives. Given that, the Spurs have to be looking at how they are going to prepare for the future.
Kawhi Leonard is the first place that they should start looking.
In just his second season in the NBA Leonard is already proving that he is an above-average player on both ends of the floor. He’s appeared in 50 games for the Spurs this season, starting in 49 of them and seeing the floor for 30.7 minutes per game. In those games he has averaged 11.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. He’s also shot 49.6 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond-the-arc.
Considering that Leonard is just 21 years old and still doesn’t play a featured role in the Spurs’ offense, the kind of production that he’s giving them this season is phenomenal. He’s shown that he has the unique skill-set that allows him to defend very well on a variety of types of players and also to do a variety of things on the offensive end of the floor.
As the Spurs look toward their future without Duncan and Ginobili, Leonard has to be a part of their equation. Leonard is already incredibly skilled and, with his youth, has a ton of potential. Beyond that, though, he is also such a versatile player that the Spurs would be able to build a team around him in multiple ways. He has the ability to succeed no matter what kind of personnel is around him, which is a rare skill.
Leonard may not get the same attention that his teammates like Parker, Duncan and Ginobili do right now. In actuality he is only a complimentary player to those guys right now. However, as San Antonio looks a couple of years into the future they have to see Leonard as the guy on their roster right now that could potentially be a star in this league.