- Created on Friday, 21 December 2012 04:13
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by David Rountree
The San Antonio Spurs are slowly sliding down the standings. They currently are fourth in the Western Conference, after being first in the conference a week ago. The team has had a strenuous schedule and is on a two game losing streak. They have been struggling with longer and more athletic teams. Now with starter Kawhi Leonard returning they can fill the athletic void left after he hurt his knee early in the season.
- Leonard is the second leading rebounder on the team with five a game, and this is at the small forward position. He rebounds better than all the big men on team outside of Tim Duncan. He has the athletic ability and length to really take some pressure off of Duncan. The Spurs have gotten outrebounded by double digits in their last three losses and could use someone to help close that gap against opponents.
- The Spurs defense has slowed down a bit from the beginning of the year; they are still solid but clearly are missing Leonard. He is capable of guarding opposing team’s star players, and the Spurs recently missed him desperately against superstar Kevin Durant. Leonard before his injury was averaging 2 steals a game, helping the Spurs force several turnovers on the perimeter. The potential of an improved defense could lead to easier baskets for the Spurs’ high-powered offense.
- The San Antonio Spurs depend too heavily on the three-point shot; Leonard gives them a scorer who can score off the dribble. He has shown he can finish strong at the basket and also score in the mid-range. Leonard is capable of hitting the three but not completely reliant on it. He is shooting a blazing 49 percent from the field, and even was shooting 94 percent from the free-throw line earlier in the year.
Look for Leonard to give the Spurs an instant boost on both sides of the floor. He has the skills and humility to really be a difference maker for them—this season. His growth as a player could be the determining factor on whether the Spurs can reach the NBA Finals.