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FutureStarrFive Things to Trust in Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is a force on both ends of the court and an elite performer in the post. He's also an excellent shooter and solid defender, giving him plenty of options.
He's been an integral part of the Suns' success, helping them earn three playoff wins and a franchise-record 5-2 road record this postseason. Now it will be interesting to see if this team can replicate that success in Game Six.
Kawhi Leonard is the best offensive player in the NBA, averaging 27.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists on 51/39/87 shooting splits with only 1.8 turnovers. His efficient play on court has allowed his teammates to create at an impressive rate while he's been a dominant presence defensively as well.
Leonard is an unstoppable force on both ends of the floor, capable of shooting from any position and making a move when necessary. His post-up game is particularly impressive, as is his switchability between positions that make him an impossible defender. Leonard possess great ball-handling ability as well as knowledge about every opponent's strengths and weaknesses - making him a dangerous weapon in any situation. He knows how to play at an elite level by understanding each opponent's strengths and weaknesses.
Kawhi Leonard has been an unstoppable force during the playoffs, dominating on both ends of the court. In 22 games, he's averaged 31.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals on 45.8% and 39.1% shooting from three-point range respectively; furthermore, his lockdown defense on both sides of the ball has been outstanding throughout this process.
His efficiency on finished plays has surged to the 83rd percentile in the league, and he's making more accurate passes than ever before. On isolation and post-up attempts, he is scoring an efficient 1.04 points per possession - a remarkable improvement from last year's dismal numbers.
He's an excellent defender, ranking in the 90th percentile or higher for each set of five most common offenses. That includes spot-up shooting, pick-and-roll finishing, post ups, transition and isolation plays. His versatility to guard multiple positions has become a strength as he's become much better at adapting to different defensive scenarios. Furthermore, his shot blocking has improved significantly this season with a 71% block percentage.
Kawhi Leonard has been unstoppable in the post this season, averaging 2.2 points per post-up possession and making more than 25% of his shot attempts this year.
He's currently averaging more than three steals per game, which is far higher than his previous career high of 2.33 from last season. Add in his 1.3 blocks per contest and it looks like he may break the record for steals in one season.
What he does when he enters the post is even more dangerous. He frequently changes his pivot foot, sometimes sliding and other times changing direction completely. It's an uncatchable move that doesn't seem to get noticed by officials but gives him a strategic advantage when working inside the arc.
It's something that should have been a rule, yet the NBA has occasionally let it slide. This behavior should never occur and teams need to pay close attention when making their lineups. Unfortunately, it has happened regularly this season and I predict it will continue.
For him to truly return to his former MVP form, he must first remain healthy. That could mean a long road ahead but he knows exactly what it takes. That's why he's been eager to return on the court after missing most of last season with knee issues. If he can do so successfully, it will be an encouraging sign for this team's future success.
Leonard has been one of the NBA's most consistent shooters for years, but this season he has taken his game to another level. Over the last two months, Leonard has averaged 14.9 points per game - nearly five more than his average from his first year with the Spurs!
He's been more accurate from three point range this year, shooting.500 from the corner on a larger sample size than last year - likely due to playing more minutes with Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan out injured.
His newfound responsibility has given him more chances to express himself creatively and score. He's grabbing offensive rebounds, attacking the paint in transition, and hitting the glass for extra possessions - even setting career highs in assists and steals! With all this momentum behind him, there is no limit to what this young man can accomplish.
Furthermore, Leonard has proven to be an adept ball handler on pick-and-rolls. His patience in taking pull-up midrange jumpers during these plays is a major factor in his success with those plays.
Though he's talented enough to not need this in every scenario, having it does give him an edge when operating inside the arc. In these difficult moments, he's displayed patience and made informed decisions throughout his career.
Kawhi Leonard's remarkable versatility on the court makes him one of the league's premier players, making him a must-watch this year despite all of the injury problems that have befallen the Spurs this season. No other player can match Kawhi's skill set, making his continued development essential for keeping him among the league's elite for years to come. Teams like the Phoenix Suns should keep an eye on him closely as he continues his ascent towards greatness.
Kawhi Leonard has established himself as one of the NBA's premier shooters throughout his career, consistently getting to the rim with ease and showing off his 3-point shooting prowess. But more than that, his versatility has allowed him to excel on both ends of the court.
Leonard is an outstanding all-around player with the potential to be an elite scorer. He boasts excellent rebounding skills, defensive prowess, and a superb passer.
Last season, Leonard earned himself a First-Team All-NBA selection after regaining his status as one of the league's premier shooters. He averaged 28.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while hitting 53.8% of his field goal attempts and 78.7% of his 3-point attempts.
He's an impressive all-around player with a strong work ethic to match. Never one to take advantage of those around him, his focus has always been on improving himself and becoming the best version of himself.
It's easy to see why he's one of the league's premier players, especially when you consider how much his all-around game has developed over his career.
As a young player, he spent time at San Diego State and earned himself an All-American title as a sophomore. As two-time conference tournament champion, his teammates recognized him as the most dominant player on court.
He was an integral member of the San Antonio Spurs, helping them win an NBA title and being named its Most Valuable Player. Additionally, he had a brief tenure with the Los Angeles Clippers where he earned himself an All-NBA Second Team selection during his first season with them.
Kawhi Leonard is one of the best defenders in the NBA. A versatile two-way player, Kawhi is renowned for his ball-hawking abilities. A five-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard has earned himself a place among the league's elite.
He's a defensive force who's been able to help teams reach the playoffs with his tenacity and ability to shut down opposing players. He's an iconic figure in today's NBA, one of few defenders capable of shadowing opposing stars night after night.
Leonard is a major factor in why the San Antonio Spurs are among the top 10 in defensive efficiency, as per Synergy Sports. This strategy has been in place for years and Leonard has been an instrumental part of it.
He's unafraid to go after the ball and take it away from an opponent. A hardworking player who always strives for excellence, he strives to do the right thing.
He's achieved some of the most remarkable numbers in the league, amassing over 1,000 steals and 988 personal fouls through 10 seasons. It is truly remarkable, showing that he can disrupt opponents both inside and outside.
Kawhi Leonard has proven his mettle over the course of his NBA career, despite playing behind some of the game's premier players. With three All-Defensive teams and two Defensive Player of the Year awards to his name, he's earned himself a place among legends such as James, Durant and Harden in an unprecedented way. It takes immense courage and commitment to be successful on defense, something Leonard takes very seriously - an accomplishment which serves as testament to his character in such an intensely competitive league like James, Durant and Harden.