Once again, PATFO proved themselves as wizards of the draft when they made a move for the 6'7 SF Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State. At the time, many of us were unsure of the move as we watched one of our favorite Spurs in Hill pack up for his home state in Indiana. Although we still miss George and wish him well, the presence of Leonard has been huge for us this season, and (if it comes to it) our chances of getting past the Thunder in the WCF skyrocket with Leonard on the floor. As the careers of Duncan and Manu are nearing the final chapters, Leonard's role as a Spur will undoubtably have to evolve and take on more of a load. I am curious, as many of us our, to see what that role will be.
Kawhi in his rookie season has surpassed any expectations Spurs fans had for him heading into the season. I myself had doubts of how successful our draft pick could be after a long lockout and a schedule featuring countless back to backs and a few back-to-back-to-backs. But to our surprise, the former Aztec has proved himself to be a quick learner and has contributed in more than a few ways to the silver and black.
Defensively, Kawhi has shown potential to become one of league's finest. This was not as big of a surprise as other parts of his game, as this was the reason he was drafted. He happily accepts the hardest defensive assignments, and never shows signs of being flustered no matter who he is guarding. His length gives him the ability to bother even the best of shooters, while also allowing him to cut off passing lanes and come up with big steals. On the boards, Kawhi helps make up for the lack in size we have. Bill Land says it best when he likens him to a whacky waving inflatable man. Statistically, Leonard isn't making a case for rookie of the year. However, it is mainly the efforts that don't go down in the books that make him so special.
The biggest surprise from Leonard has been offensive game. Even Pop has stated that he didn't see this coming. After all, who would expect a rookie to learn a high powered offense like that of the Spurs' without the ever important offseason? I'll tell you who. No one. Kawhi has shown a substantial improvement in his offensive game since the beginning of the year, and gives us an extra option from behind the arc.
On both ends of the floor, Kawhi, in his constant cool and calm demeanor, gives 110%. He is methodical, meticulous, and at times spectacular. He loves to do the small things. It is clear now that the move we made to get him, although it was a sad day, was in the best interests of the organization. Kawhi was a great acquisition, and will be a great player for us for years to come. Pop is slowly grooming him to be the next Bruce, and I would be surprised if at the end of his career he didn't have a few all-defensive first teams to his name.
My inquiry begins when we no longer have Duncan or Manu. He obviously will be key for us on the defensive end of the floor, but will Kawhi be forced to do more things on the offense? If so, what do you think the ceiling for his offensive skill set is? He has shown that he holds a lot of potential, but are there limits to his offense? What do you guys think?