Kawhi Leonard Is Growing Up Fast

| by Max Wohlmuth

The Spurs added a new player to their roster during the 2013-2014 NBA Finals. An upgraded version of the Kawhi Leonard we saw during last year’s Finals. He’s more mature, more confident, and has more experience.

During his second season in the NBA in 2012-2013, Kawhi Leonard found himself starting in the NBA Finals. He handled the pressure well and helped the Spurs play all the way to a Game 7, ultimately losing to the Miami Heat.

This year against the Heat in the Finals, Leonard proved his place as a future centerpiece for the Spurs. Leonard averaged 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, increasing his points per game by a little over three points when compared to last year.

However, Leonard’s Finals numbers are somewhat skewed after shooting a total of four shots in the first two games of the series. During Game 3 in Miami, Kawhi let loose, scoring a playoff career high 29 points. He also outscored LeBron James, who had 22 points.

Leonard’s production improved greatly in the last three games of the series, averaging 23.67 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

After San Antonio defeated Miami in five games, Leonard was named Finals Most Valuable Player Award. He became the third youngest player to win the MVP Award with Game 5 being two weeks before turning 23 years old.

Further, Leonard had the almost impossible task of guarding LeBron James. James is known for his unique combination of speed and power. However, Leonard used his length and physical attributes to compete with LeBron and outplay him at times throughout the series.  

Of course James is going to be very productive no matter who he is being guarded by. Even so, Leonard performed admirably.

With Tim Duncan most likely retiring in the next couple of years, San Antonio will begin to rely more and more on Kawhi Leonard. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli are also in their thirties. Soon enough, Leonard will be the new team leader in San Antonio.

A year ago, it was easy to see Leonard’s potential. Now, he has shown us just what he is capable of. Luckily for the Spurs, it seems Leonard still has some growing to do.