6. Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is the freshest name on this list. He’s only six years into his San Antonio Spurs career, but unlike most of the players behind him, he’s risen to become one of the NBA’s best players.
Leonard’s value comes on both sides of the ball. He didn’t enter the NBA as a good shooter, but worked on it and became a very reliable player from behind the arc (38 percent). From 1.7 3-pointers per game in his rookie season to 5.2 in 2016-17, it’s been a remarkable rise for him.
The defensive side was always there, however. Leonard has huge hands and a seven-foot wingspan that allows to him overwhelm players on the wing like few others can. It’s given him numerous defensive awards and a knack for stealing and blocking the basketball with ease.
The 2016-17 season saw Leonard inch close to the MVP Award. He was in the final three for voting, but finished third, as James Harden went second and Russell Westbrook won. Given the slow-burn rise from the San Diego State product since 2011, could the next step be this prestigious honor at the end of the 2018-19 season?
The book on Leonard in a Spurs jersey is far from complete. At age 26, he has a long way to go and should rewrite all kinds of records for the organization. If anything, he could land in the top-three to wear the Silver and Black in a few years.