By Brandon Sandberg @sandbergbrandon on June 17, 2014
The San Antonio Spurs just won the 2014 NBA Finals largely due to the performance of Kawhi Leonard. He might not show much emotion while on the court, but that doesn’t stop Leonard from playing with passion. Here are five reasons why Kawhi Leonard is the next NBA star.
First and foremost, Kawhi Leonard has the pedigree to be considered one of the NBA’s biggest stars. At the age of 22, Leonard is the youngest player to win the MVP award during an NBA Finals since Tim Duncan won it back in 1999. Call it coincidence, call it luck, call it whatever you want — the Spurs look like they’ll remain playoff contenders for many years to come thanks to Kawhi Leonard.
Many people consider Kawhi Leonard to be the “quietest player in the NBA”, but who needs to open their mouth when you could just have your game do all the talking? Leonard is one of the most humble players in the league. Learning from his head coach Gregg Popovich, Leonard is a man of few words, making it nearly impossible to dislike the kid.
Between his size, quickness and athleticism, it’s no wonder why Kawhi Leonard was challenged by his coaching staff in the 2014 NBA Finals to guard the best player in the NBA — LeBron James. Leonard’s on-ball defense is some of the best in the game. If Kawhi can take on King James and D him up, there’s no reason he can’t shut down any other guard or small forward in the NBA.
Possibly the greatest thing about Kawhi Leonard since he entered the league in 2011 is his desire to learn. Seeing the professionalism and work ethic that Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker brought to practice on a daily basis was inspiring for Leonard. If these guys have won multiple championships and are still this hungry for knowledge and improvement, then he should be too. Leonard does whatever is asked of him which is a coach's dream.
The craziest thing I heard Gregg Popovich say during the postgame interview after winning the 2014 NBA Finals was that he didn’t call one play for Kawhi Leonard the entire series. If you watched the Finals, you’d know that’s pretty impressive, especially with the aggression and precision Leonard played with in Games 3, 4 and 5. From pull-up threes to making the extra pass, Kawhi Leonard has a natural talent for the game.
Brandon Sandberg is a writer for RantSports.com. Like him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter@SandbergBrandon and add him to you network on Google.
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