Jan 22, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) before the tip off at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
ESPN continues its overview of the top players at every positions. With small forward up next, is Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs present?
LeBron James and Kevin Durant far ahead of the pack
Every era of the NBA has its dominant position group and there is no question this one belongs to the small forward. There is also no question that in terms of WARP ratings for overall excellence and efficiency, LeBron James is truly the King. ESPN projects he will have yet another MVP-caliber year with a project 20 rating. Behind him is reigning MVP Kevin Durant who is expected to follow close behind at 17.1. After them? It gets a little more realistic with Carmelo Anthony having a 10.4 projection and so on down the line. It is merely another remind of how talented yet divided the position is from the elite class of James and Durant to the great but not special group trailing them.
Leonard outpaces Chandler Parsons and is expected to get even better
So where does that leave Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard? There is no question he is rounding into a heck of a player in his own right. San Antonio clearly sees him as their next great star. The question is does ESPN agree? Based on their WARP projections, Leonard could be in for his best overall season yet. With a rating of 8.59 expected, he will outdistance Chandler Parsons and Rudy Gay among others for the 8th spot on the top 10 list. Gregg Popovich has said he has even higher expectations. With Leonard having just turned 23, it’s hard to argue with him.