In his second sophomore game Kawhi Leonard had a quiet night compared to his first game. Or did he?
Points scored being about the only difference between game 1 and game 2 in an affair that saw both the Spurs and Thunder tally less than 90 points each should extenuate Leonard for not matching his 19 point performance a day earlier. And in a game where the entire team shot less than 30% from downtown, Kawhi Leonard more than held his own in other aspects of the game. You know…the little things.
JRW’s comment states it best from http://www.poundingtherock.com/2012/11/2/3589228/tony-parker-drains-thunder-with-game-winner
“You called what Kawhi did gambling. He’s so locked in right now on defense that I’m not so sure that’s the right word for it.
Otherwise, you’re 100% correct. That play he made was great, timely and necessary.”
I tend to agree. The Braided Bandit is wreaking havoc against Spurs opponents. It may become more of a gamble for teams to pass the ball near his vicinity than him going for the steal. Robin Hood would be proud. Ten steals in two games. And in a quick analytical summary, aren’t steals more valuable than blocks? Blocks of course prevent a score from happening, but steals insure the team gains possession of the ball. And the last steal against OKC and Durant was the timeliest change of possession the Spurs encountered throughout the entire game.
But what may be developing is a curtailing of options teams have at their disposal to score against the Spurs if Kawhi preserves these early results from the defensive end Just as team’s have to adjust for a dominant shot blocking big, their repertoire of action is going to be limited (and devised) when Leonard is on the court. His presence is going to limit teams to executing their offense efficiently. Their rhythm is going to be disturbed and fluid action is going to be dammed.
So you see…Kawhi didn’t need to score in the teens to have been considered successful in this game. His defense was necessary. His actions timely. He was great.
With Kawhi Leonard, Spurs defense just may climb into the top ten this year because of those little things. And that would be a BIG Deal.