When the San Antonio Spurs sent George Hill to Indiana for the rights to draft Kawhi Leonard, many basketball observers considered it a high-risk move.
A lot of Spurs fans probably cursed that draft night too.
Hill after all was one of the most popular young Spurs player at the time and letting go of some one like him was difficult to say the least.
Nonetheless, the Spurs chose to push through because they were intrigued by Leonard’s ability to guard multiple positions.
Apparently, the Spurs made the right decision.
Thirteen games into his young NBA career, Leonard is currently averaging 8.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 23.8 minutes per game.
In Sunday night’s victory over the Phoenix Suns, he scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting (including two 3-pointers) with eight rebounds, one steal, one blocked shot and one assist in 33 minutes of action.
The rookie forward has now started three straight games and has improved his production over the last five games. Leonard has put up 13.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.2 assists per game during that stretch while shooting 56.9 percent from the field, including 50 percent from the beyond the arc.
The Spurs bring him over mainly because of his defense, his emphasis on playing tough ‘D’ is also the reason why he has earned a spot into coach Gregg Popovich’s regular rotation but he has given a lot more by providing San Antonio some needed offensive punch.
With Manu Ginobili and T.J. Ford out with injuries, the Spurs for the time being are happy to have a rookie that plays hard on both ends of the floor and who’s defense is now being compared to no less than Bruce Bowen.
While Bowen’s defensive prowess and contribution to the Spurs is hard to match, Leonard is certainly on the right direction just doing what he does best.