San Antonio Spurs: Grade of Kawhi Leonard’s Return

By Nick Elizondo

Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

With one of the toughest duties in the NBA—guarding Kevin DurantKawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs broke the fourth metacarpal in his right hand on January 22nd against the OKC Thunder.

After missing 14 games, it was nice to see Kawhi’s emotionless face again in the starting lineup.With a hand brace wrapped around his right hand, Leonard was ready to give it his all on his bobble head night.

He must have remembered the last time these two teams met because he came out swinging.

I was surprised to see Leonard actually take the first shot of the game but nerves must have gotten to him because it was extremely short for a wide open shot.

Then a few possessions later on defense, Greg Monroe was able to get the switch and post him up. Monroe made the nice move on Leonard and seemed to have an open layup to the basket, until Leonard recovered with his length and blocked the shot away.

From there on, it was happy sailing for the young Kawhi Leonard.

The future face of the Spurs was able to fill up the stat sheet with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists, and a pair of both blocks and steals; and he did it all while shooting five-of-nine from the field, including a three pointer and knocking down all four of his free throws.

Honestly, it didn’t even seem like he missed any time whatsoever with the way he played.

I’m having trouble picking my favorite play of his from the night.

In the first quarter, Leonard was able to knock down a three; then, on the ensuing play on the defensive end, Cory Joseph stole the ball and threw a beautiful alley-oop pass on the fast break for Leonard, who finished it off with authority.

The other highlight reel play by Leonard was his steal in the third, where he ran the fast break by jumping over a sliding Will Bynum and launching a pinpoint bounce pass for Tim Duncan, who finished it with the one hand slam.

Feb 26, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Will Bynum (12) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs forward Tiago Splitter (22) during the second half at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 120-110. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs fans couldn’t have asked more from Leonard.

He played solid defense overall, contributed on the offensive end very efficiently and did it all in his usual 29 minutes.

Other than his defense in the first half being slightly below his usual standards and a pair of turnovers, Leonard had himself quite the game.

Thanks to his strong efforts, the Spurs were able to get their revenge on the Pistons by a final score of 120-110

For his first game back, Kawhi Leonard definitely deserved an A.

**All stats courtesy of