San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard takes another step forward

San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard had his best statistical line since his Dec. 12 return.

Cautious and conservative best fit the use of San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard since returning from a quad injury on Dec. 12. Including Tuesday’s game vs. the Brooklyn Nets, the 26-year-old played in just five of a possible eight games. However, his post-Christmas performance was his best of them all, and could lead to an expanded role as 2017 closes.

From the opening shot, Leonard looked sharp, having just received four days off. He knocked down a 16-foot jumper to get the Spurs their first points. He stayed active for the remainder of the first quarter and the opening half, with 14 points and appeared in his old MVP form.

This second-quarter dunk was delightful to see, too:

The second half wasn’t as Klaw-filled, as he had 7 points and aided what became a rout of the Nets, 109-97. So, let’s break down the season-highs he accomplished:

  • Points – 21
  • Assists – 2 (Tied previous high)
  • Field goals – 8
  • Field goal attempts – 17
  • 3-point field goals – 2
  • 3-point field goal attempts – 5
  • Free throws – 3
  • Free throw attempts – 4
  • Minutes – 26

Sure, playing more will increase these totals, but Leonard played 20 minutes vs. the Los Angeles Clippers and put up half these stats. It brought him into the closest we’ve seen him in season form, potentially a sign of what’s to come.

The Spurs don’t have a back-to-back to close 2017, and not until Jan. 2 and 3, so look for Leonard to play on Dec. 28 and 30, before resting for one of 2018’s opening matchups. After that, there will be just two back-to-backs (Jan. 7 and 8, 23 and 24) in the first calendar month, meaning fans may see plenty of the San Diego State product as the All-Star Break nears.

Tuesday night was a step in the right direction for Leonard, who continues to get into the mode fans witnessed and loved in the 2016-17 season. Once he’s at 100 percent, how scary can this team be?

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