Previewing the 2013 NBA Season: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs are one of the most fascinating teams in the NBA. Every season, they give you the impression that their veterans are too old and won’t have the energy to make a run for an NBA Championship. However, they find themselves in the Playoffs each season.

One player that has been a key piece in prolonging the careers of legends Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobli has been none other than Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi will be entering his third season in the NBA, and the expectations for him increase each season.  As much as the Spurs wish that they could retain their veterans forever, they realize that the time will come when those players will be out of the equation, and the young players they have such as Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and several other players on the roster will have to step in and fill in some big shoes.

121116_leonard_300x400Coming off of a Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals last season, the Spurs are looking to bounce back and prove their critics wrong. That being said, in order to accomplish that, they need to Kawhi to play a much bigger role than he did in his first two seasons.

The 22-year-old Small Forward from San Diego State has been taken under the wings of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker, and has benefited greatly. These three players have made him that much better, and although he may not put up LeBron James numbers, he contributes in a very positive way.

Let’s take a look at Kawhi’s stats his first two seasons:

GP

GS

MPG

FG%

3PT%

FT%

REB

AST

BLK

PPG

2011-2012

64

39

24.0

.493

.376

.773

5.1

1.1

0.4

7.9

2012-2013

58

57

31.2

.494

.374

.825

6.0

1.6

0.6

11.9

As I said before, Kawhi is not the type of player to put up LeBron James numbers, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good player. He is still learning the game and improving numerous aspects of his game as the veterans who have helped him these past two seasons continue to mentor him.

When you think of Kawhi Leonard, you think of a solid two-way player who is a good off the ball player and is also able to come back on the other side of the court and play sound defense.  He can definitely knock down the three, and is a pretty good free throw shooter.

What can we expect from Kawhi Leonard this season? I believe that he will have a big season for the Spurs. Kawhi Leonard is buried under the radar with the big name SF’s in the NBA such as LeBron, Durant, Carmelo, etc. Something you get with Leonard is a player that gives it everything he has on every given night. This season is when he will begin to get into a rhythm in the NBA and start transitioning into the future that the Spurs expect from him.  Kawhi will definitely see more playing time this season as the Spurs will do everything they can to keep their veterans well rested.

Kawhi Leonard doesn’t receive the praise he should, but this upcoming season, Kawhi will finally put everything he’s learned into practice and make everyone a believer once again. Kawhi Leonard’s time has arrived in San Antonio!

Antonio Santiago is a Staff Writer at Hoops-Nation. Follow Antonio and Hoops-Nation on Twitter.

 

Evan Massey

Evan is a diehard basketball fan with a lot of writing experience. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, Sports Illustrated, and various other publications. If you would like to contact Evan, you may email him at emasseysports@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.

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