Getting to know Kawhi Leonard

When the dust finally settles, we see one Spur was traded to his hometown and then the San Antonio Spurs welcome four new players on draft day night.

Two of them (Davis Bertans and Adam Hanga) will probably stay overseas for the time being to further develop their game and skills, it could be worth the wait, both of them have great potential. One of them (Cory Joseph) will probably be Tony Parker’s backup next season.

The other is expected to add depth at small forward and provide an immediate impact next season. He is Kawhi Leonard.

Defense is Kawhi Leonard's calling card.

Leonard is a 6-foot-7 forward who played two seasons at San Diego State University. Last season he was a Second Team All-America selection by the Associated Press while leading the Aztecs to a school-record 34 wins and an appearance in the Sweet 16. He earned First Team All-Mountain West honors and was selected to the All-Mountain West Defensive Team.

For the season he averaged 15.5 points, 10.6 rebounds (ninth in the NCAA), 2.9 assists and 1.42 steals in 32.6 minutes and posted 23 double-doubles which ranked fourth in the NCAA.

He scored in double figures 33 times, including 20-plus in 10 games. He led the team in scoring 16 times, in rebounding 25 times and in assists 12 times.

As a freshman Leonard was named the Mountain West Freshman on the Year, earned All-MWC First Team honors and was named the MWC tournament MVP, becoming the only freshman in MWC history to earn first team all-conference honors.

He was one of only four freshmen in the country to lead his team in scoring and rebounding, averaging a team-best 12.7 points and 9.9 rebounds. Leonard finished with 17 double-doubles, which set a freshman school record. He finished with a career-high 26 points at Wyoming on Jan. 9, 2010 and pulled down a career-high 21 rebounds vs. UNLV in the MWC title game on March 13, 2010.

For his career Leonard appeared in 70 games for the Aztecs, averaging 14.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.40 steals in 31.9 minutes while shooting .449 (377-840) from the field and .744 (195-262) from the foul line.

Leonard terrific length, has a high motor and plays the game with a lot of energy. He spends majority of the time on the perimeter, but occasionally shows the ability to play with his back to the basket and uses an effective turnaround jumper inside when posting up.

An agile athlete, his strides are extremely long and he covers a lot of space when running the floor and his shooting has improved and he has become a respectable threat from the outside. He has a strong preference going to his pull-up jumper, and once he gets into a rhythm he can string a number makes together and is fairly comfortable handling the ball in the open court and is capable of pushing it out off the rebound when the situation calls for it.

Even with the improvements to his offensive game, he still continues to contribute heavily in the rebounding department. His length, energy and great timing, allow him to snatch balls on both ends that are well outside of his rebounding area. An extremely quick jumper, he is very good at tipping the ball and keeping it alive on the rim.

Has the instincts and shows potential in becoming a very solid defender, his ability to get out in the passing lanes and contest shots inside make him a very dangerous weapon on the defensive end.

However, Leonard does not have one aspect offensively that stands out or which allows him to consistently score the ball and with his size and frame, he will certainly be a perimeter player in the NBA, but he lacks the polish and skill necessary to consistently operate on the wing.

He does not have break down ability off the dribble and he is especially shaky handling the ball with his left hand. His jumpshot is still very inconsistent and he does not have a great touch around the basket, and unless he can get inside position on the defense, he struggles finishing when contested.

But with proper training under the Spurs system, Leonard flaws are correctable, his defensive abilities and high energy will be his main asset to the team.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Leonard will provide an immediate impact for the Spurs? Fire away at the comment section.


5 thoughts on “Getting to know Kawhi Leonard

  1. I like the trade, but the Spurs did not get any big man except for that Lorbek guy, I’m a little bit puzzled.

  2. Leonard was the surest “can’t miss” in this draft imo. while his head height is 6’7″ his standing reach (true basketball height) is better than most 6’10” players due to his short neck, long arms and large hands. his motor is 100% all the time, his mid range shot is very good, and his 3pt shooting is improving sharply. he is already a Rodman level rebounder and defender and his learning curve continues to be much steeper than others in the draft as he didn’t start playing until he was in high school. I thought the Spurs were finished as an elite team for a spell until thursday night. if this trade doesn’t go down as one of the all-time steals, it will only be because George Hill fulfills his potential to the fullest. don’t know much about the foreign bigs, but Kawhi will likely prove more productive in the NBA than Derrick Williams. why didn’t others see this? maybe because he played at SDSU? but the Spurs did and may have tried to give Utah tony parker to get him at #3. most mocks had him going 5-8.

  3. I believe he is the steal of the draft. Leonard is the complete package, he knows how play defense and is a tremendous athlete. I’m excited to see him play on the court with the Spurs.

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