The San Antonio Spurs have themselves a bonafide stud in Kawhi Leonard. The man is only 23 years old and already has a championship ring and a Finals MVP trophy to boot. Not bad for a player who hasn’t even reached his potential yet. I’m calling my shot now. Kawhi Leonard will be in the conversation for regular season MVP next season. For those who don’t follow the Spurs much, here is a breakdown of Leonard’s skill-set and why he is the total package.
Leonard is a very athletic guard/small forward who can cover multiple positions effectively. He has the speed and athleticism to cover point guards as well as teams’ best scoring guards/small forwards. At 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, he plays an effective style of help defense as he is long and athletic enough to cheat down to double the block and quick enough to recover to the three-point line to bother shots. He is also very effective at shooting the gap on passes and causing deflections and steals. Lastly, he mixes it up in the paint, crashing both the offensive glass and defensive glass. He is an excellent rebounder for his position and brings an energy level to the game that is second-to-none.
On offense, he has a smooth and consistent mid-range jump shot and an above-average three-point stroke that is only going to get better with time. With the athletic ability to get to the hoop, he is tough to contain when he puts his mind to scoring the basketball. He is constantly moving on offense, slashing and cutting to the hoop and open areas on the floor, which makes him tough to keep up with. He also has good vision. Although not a Tony Parker by any stretch, Leonard sees the floor well and seems to make the right pass more often than not. That being said, Leonard could show more aggression on the offensive side of the floor. He defers too much to Parker, Manu Ginobili and Duncan, but the torch is slowly being passed his way.
Within another year or two, San Antonio will hand him the keys to the franchise as the successor to Tim Duncan. Those are big shoes to fill, but so far he has done everything to position himself to succeed. If Leonard didn’t make his mark in this league last year in the playoffs, he most certainly will turn heads in 2014-2015. Every fan should be paying attention to No. 2 because he is doing big things down in the Alamo.