San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard finished fourth in the voting for the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year. Leonard garnered one first-place point, nine second-place points and 15 third-place points for a total of 47 points. Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio and Kenneth Faried finished in the top three.
Leonard played 64 of 66 games, including 39 starts for the 50-16 Spurs. Leonard averaged 7.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 49.3 percent shooting in 24 minutes per game.
Leonard’s successful rookie season is especially surprising considering Gregg Popovich is incredibly tough on incoming rookies as the 19-year-old Tony Parker would attest to vehemently.
Leonard was lauded for his athleticism, intangibles and work ethic. His detractors cited his deficient shooting as a legitimate threat to his development as a player. Yet, Leonard improved his 29.1 3-point percentage to 37.6 percent in the NBA even though the NBA line is about three feet farther from the hoop.