The San Antonio Spurs have gone away from the defensive, shutdown philosophy that made them so successful in the past. It’s not a huge problem because they’ve improved the offense as well and can still win by outscoring their opponents, but on the year, the Spurs are giving up 97 points per game.
One reason the Spurs could be giving up so many points is the fact that Kawhi Leonard, probably their best perimeter defender, has been out since mid-November. Since Leonard’s return last Friday, the Spurs haven’t reached their season average in points allowed, giving up 94 points against the Hornets, 91 against the Mavericks and just 80 against the Raptors.
It could just be the quality of the competition, but Leonard has surely provided a defensive spark, recording 10 steals in just three games (with reduced minutes). That’s 3.3 steals per game and to put that in perspective, the league leader in steals is Chris Paul, who averages 2.71 per game.
His teammates have surely noticed the effect Leonard has on the defense. Both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were singing his praises after the game against Toronto.
"Kawhi is creating a lot of turnovers himself,” said Duncan. “He's getting a lot of steals and turning that into offense. It's a big thing we've been missing the last couple of weeks with him gone. It's great to have that back. It's great to see him get those steals again and make it into something."
"Huge for us,” Ginobili said. “First of all, because he is one of the only true small forwards we've got with size and strength to guard big opponents. With his length and ability to read situations, he can get a lot of deflections and steals that give you a good lift in some parts of the game."
Keep an eye on the Spurs’ defensive numbers as Leonard continues to log more minutes, especially their overall points allowed. His contribution to the team will become even more apparent as the season rolls on.
It is good the Spurs are holding teams scoring down. In crunch time the key is high post pick and roll defense.
Leonard has a young career and relying on him too much may retard his growth. But really, he is phenomenal and possibly the future rests on his shoulders. Nevertherless. the Spurs have to upgrade the frontline if they want to compete with the likes of the Nuggets, Thunder and Clippers. They have all the chances of taking Demarcus Cousins if he is traded by the Kings or Varejao of the Cavs. It's too early to speculate but, it seems the Cavs may draft another Zeller of Indiana and it seems they are not in the running for the wcf. If the Spurs have not wasted their opprtunity, Blatche should be playing with them now. He is making good with the Nets. The run for the wcf is crucial. We don't want see another debacle suffered last year. Remember the "ALMOST THERE". After 2 wins they faltered and lost to the thunder. They must not be contented to "ALMOST THERE."
@rtesoro440 You truly are not a Spurs fan. Yes we could use a legit center. Yes we need someone who can get more rebounds. But you don't want to destroy your team for someone that could be a cancer. Cousins needs to be on a team like Boston not the Spurs. Blatche needs to stay in Brooklyn. Only name you mentioned worth talking about is Varejao. Put Cousins on your 2k13 team. We don't want him. And as far as Kawhi Leonard, retard his growth? Rely on him too much? You sound confused. Doesn't OKC rely on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook too much? The kid is in his second year. In order for him to get better he has to learn. Pop is trying to groom him into a better player than when he came into the league. If you like to joke around and this is your way to shake us Spurs fans up you did it. If not stop with the nonsense it's just making you look like a fair-weather fan.
@rtesoro440 What is wrong with you?
@rtesoro440 ugghh, reading you "posts" is getting harder and harder. i guess my christmas wish of you losing your computer has not come true.