- Created on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 02:30
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by David Rountree
Kawhi Leonard is just a second year player but expectations are high for the budding star. The San Antonio Spurs are a team in transition, a team that window is closing in the next couple seasons. So right now the Spurs need all the help they can to get that fifth title, so Leonard’s impact this season is sorely needed.
Leonard was set back by missing almost 20 games this season with a knee injury and this has slowed his growth a bit. Now he is healthier than ever and contributing nicely on the defensive end. The Spurs could benefit from Leonard having more offensive production though and this falls squarely on Coach Popovich’s shoulders.
Leonard is only playing 28 minutes a game and he is the youngest starter on the team, at 21 years old. Popovich needs to loosen the reigns a bit on his minute-plan and allow Leonard to grow more on offense. Defensively he is making strides but he could use a couple more play calls on the offensive end.
Leonard’s stats are very solid considering the minutes he plays. He is averaging about 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. So if Popovich plays him about 5 more minutes a game (almost half a quarter) it could really give the team a boost. Leonard has the skill-set to make it count and could easily average double figures in points and grab an extra couple rebounds.
Popovich has to be careful not to let his system and the typical Spurs’ role of the small forward stunt Leonard’s growth. He is more than a spot up shooter and more than the fifth highest scorer on the team. Leonard is also the most athletic player the Spurs have had in a decade and the team isn’t utilizing it enough where they need it the most—the offensive end.
As the Spurs approach the playoffs they will need more than just the Big Three to step up in big games and Leonard fits the bill. The more pressure he puts on opposing team’s defenses the more things will open up for Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan to operate. The Big Three will not be able to get it done alone.