The Career and situation of Kawhi Leonard is an interesting one at the fresh young age of 21 Leonard has earned rave reviews from players and coaches around the league. In his 1st season in the NBA he became a reliable starting small forward that played a good amount of minutes on a team that went to the western conference finals. For all the accomplishments and accolades Kawhi has earned so far none maybe as important as what coach Popovich has said regarding his career.
“I think he’s going to be a star. And as time goes on, he’ll be the face of the Spurs, I think. At both ends of the court, he is really a special player. And what makes me be so confident about him is that he wants it so badly. He wants to be a good player, I mean a great player. He comes early, he stays late, and he’s coach able, he’s just like a sponge. When you consider he’s only had (two years) of College and no training camp yet, you can see that he’s going to be something else.” - Greg Popovich
Coach Popovich makes a lot sufficient points in that quote. Kawhi is a very good player at both ends of the floor in only his 2nd season in the league he is regarded as one of the best all- around defenders in the league whether its man to man, zone defense or perimeter defense Leonard excels highly at all of them. The best example of Kawhi's defense would force you to look no further then last nights game 2 of the NBA Finals. Although the stat isn't 100% factual at this present moment checkout the job Leonard has been doing defensively on Lebron James in the tweet below.
LeBron James is 1-of-4 shooting in the 1st half when guarded by Kawhi Leonard, and 3-of-12 against him in the series.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 10, 2013
Obviously you aren't going to completely stop Lebron James but Kawhi has done a great job guarding the best player on the plant which is a testament to his defensive ability.
Then you have to look at Leonard on the offensive end. From his rookie season to his sophomore season he has increased his scoring average a whole 4 points from 7.9 to 11.9 Points per game as basically the 3rd option in the Spurs offense behind Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Those guys along with Manu Ginobli aren't getting any younger so you have to believe that as Leonard matures that he will grow into becoming the leader of the San Antonio Spurs.
Here is an interesting stat I came across after doing a little research. Of the 14 other starting small forwards in the western conference Kawhi Lenoard's Player efficeny rating is 16.46 which is higher then 9 of them. The 9 guys he is higher then are as folllows (Harrison Barnes-12.48, Caron Butler, 12.50, Metta World Peace,-12.55, Michael Beasley-10.91, Chandler Parsons-15.33, Tayshaun Prince, Al Faraqu Aminu-15.76, Nicholas Batum-15.76, Demarre Carroll-15.56). Pretty impressive for a guy who is the 3rd and sometimes 4th option on offense all depending on how Danny green is shooting the ball.
So lets put those numbers in perspective Kawhi Leonard’s Player efficiency rating is the 5th highest of starting small forwards in the western conference. The only guys with higher ratings with him are as follows ( Tyreke Evans-18.16, Shawn Marion-18.02, Andre Kirlenko-17.67 and Kevin Durant-28.35). So all the guys that are higher then him are the 1st or second options on offense for their respective teams and one of them is an MVP Canidate. That’s pretty Impressive stuff from the second year man out of San Diego State.
If you look at just Kawhi the person and his demeanor you will see that he really has no change of demeanor. He is even keel which is what you want from a team leader. When you win you never want to get too excited but when you lose you don't want feel to down it's just good to stay in the middle and Kawhi does a great job of that. He posses a few quality's that current teammate and future hall of famer Tim Duncan has such as a calm demeanor, productivity, hunger towards success and quite frankly he is a guy most don't people pay attention to.
I think in due time we will see Kawhi Leonard mature into an all-star and leader for the San Antonio Spurs. He is in a great situation at 21 years old getting to be around guys like Greg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Tracy Mcgrady. That’s a lot of greatness surrounding a guy who is very young, plays the game the right way and seems to have his head on straight. As long as he continues to work and soak in as much info as possible then the sky is the limit for Kahwhi Leonard.