San Antonio Spurs: What If the Kawhi Leonard Trade Never Happened?

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Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in action against the Los Angeles Clippers during the third quarter at Staples Center. The San Antonio Spurs won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

If the trade for Kawhi Leonard never happened in the 2011 NBA Draft, what could have happened to the San Antonio Spurs?

During the 2011 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs traded point guard George Hill to the Indiana Pacers for the No. 15 overall pick, the No. 42 overall pick and 2005 second-round pick Erazem Lorbek. The former two picks became Kawhi Leonard and Davis Bertans, respectively.

Hill went on to start for the Pacers for a handful of years, before moving to the Utah Jazz via trade. However, Leonard broke out into one of the top two-way players in the NBA and an MVP candidate, leading the Spurs into the post-Tim Duncan era. Bertans also joined the Spurs in 2016.

Recently, Gregg Popovich spoke about this deal in a recent interview with Bleacher Report, calling it the “toughest decision” he’s made as a head coach and Hill being one of his “favorite” players. So what if Popovich decided against doing this? What about the fallout?

May 7, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards mascot G-Wiz celebrates after the game against the Boston Celtics in game four of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard Goes to the Wizards or Bucks

Without the trade, if Kawhi Leonard doesn’t go at No. 15 to the Indiana Pacers, he wouldn’t have slipped that much further. The Washington Wizards picked at No. 18 and the Milwaukee were up just one selection later, via trade.

The Wizards selected Chris Singleton out of Florida State with its pick. He was a fellow small forward, who gave the team depth at a position they were looking to get bigger at.

The Bucks would trade for Tobias Harris, who was picked by the Charlotte Bobcats. Harris had been one of the top small forwards in the 2011 NBA Draft, and a pick to help out this rebuilding franchise.

If either team rated Leonard higher, then he would have donned a Wizards or Bucks uniform for a handful of years. Does that mean Washington are never in position to take Bradley Beal in 2012? Would the Bucks even sniff Jabari Parker in the 2014 Draft, since he plays the same position as Leonard?

Leonard going to either team would have shaken up the back half of the 2011 NBA Draft’s first round. It likely goes beyond the Wizards and Bucks, affecting the strategies of just about everyone else, if they were in the running for a forward.

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