Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs is a dynamic player and one of my favorite youngsters to follow in the league. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich certainly thinks highly of Leonard whom he named as the future face of the franchise during his Mailbag with Coach Pop on the Spurs official website. See the question and believe the answer:
Question: What kind of season do you see Kawhi Leonard having next season? Also, where do you see him in five years?
GP (Gregg Popovich): I think he’s going to be a star. And as time goes on, he’ll be the face of the Spurs I think. At both ends of the court, he is really a special player. And what makes me be so confident about him is that he wants it so badly. He wants to be a good player, I mean a great player. He comes early, he stays late, and he’s coachable, he’s just like a sponge. When you consider he’s only had one year of college and no training camp yet, you can see that he’s going to be something else.
No pressure, Kawhi, it’s only your coach and a future NBA Hall of Famer giving you major props, that’s all. Seriously, how gassed up must Leonard feel after reading what Pop thinks of him? And, if you want to talk about credibility, Popovich is one of the most credible people, coach or otherwise, in the league, so you have to think that Pop knows a little something about basketball and basketball players.
During mock drafts and in my draft grade for the Spurs, writing for The Basketball Jones, I gave Leonard a lot of love. The gist of it is the following:
Leonard has the instincts, length, and quickness to be an outstanding defender, both on the perimeter and down low while helping. He’s a solid rebounder, can slash to the basket, post-up, has a high motor and sets up teammates… has a vastly improved jumper, which is his biggest weakness. He’ll bring a lot of big-time energy and diversified skills… The Spurs did it yet again. It almost gets boring at how well they draft/trade. Acquiring the do-it-all Leonard is a coup and a great piece to start with as the Spurs transition into a new group of personnel.
So, I guess you can say that I sorta called it! In any case, further for the record, I absolutely agree with Coach Pop, which admittedly isn’t a hard thing to do, but Kawhi Leonard is no lie.