Kawhi Leonard was sensational in the playoffs, particularly in games three through five of the NBA Finals against Miami. Everyone knows that Leonard is an elite defender, but his offense was what stood out in the postseason. In the regular season Leonard averaged 12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Efficiency is Kawhi Leonard’s calling card as he shot 52% from the field. Despite shooting under 30% from three in two seasons at San Diego State, he has shot 38% in the NBA. While it is certainly debatable that Leonard thrives on open corner threes and cuts for easy lay-ups, Leonard looked like the focal point in many Spurs playoff games.
In the final three games of the championship series against the Heat, Kawhi Leonard averaged 23.7 points and 9.3 rebounds. Believe me when I tell you that most were not “Leonard” baskets. What I mean by that, is they were jumpers with LeBron James closing out in his face and contested finishes at the basket. The man was simply in a “zone”. Will he be that player for an 82 game stretch? Probably not
One area that Kawhi Leonard can improve in, is his passing as he appears to be content with making the “right” play. On offense Leonard rarely opens eyes with his passing, despite making good decisions. Leonard rarely slashes and dishes, and I expect that to change a little. With Kawhi Leonard becoming a focal part of the Spurs offense, he should get more assists. Don’t expect Kevin Durant or James numbers in terms of assists, but you can expect nearly three a contest.
While Gregg Popovich has stated that he doesn’t draw up plays for the young star, I expect things to change.
Popovich on Kawhi: “I have not called a play for him the whole playoffs. I do not call his number.” Makes Finals MVP even more impressive.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 17, 2014
As Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili are only getting older, I expect Leonard to become a consistent offensive player. Unlike most players that see offensive improvements, Kawhi Leonard will remain an elite defender. Most people tend to take plays off when their offense jumps to another level (James Harden). Leonard certainly wont be Harden on offense, but he should be solid. I expect Leonard to have a few games that top his career high of 29 points in game three of the 2014 NBA Finals.
Predicted Stats: 14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.8 steals