The San Antonio Spurs (2-1) lost their first game of the preseason to the Denver Nuggets 91-97 at the AT&T Center. The Spurs were led by Tim Duncan with an impressive 21 points, two blocks, two steals, and eight rebounds but we focus on Kawhi Leonard and his play in this game.
Leonard finished with nine points, four blocks, two steals, three assists, eight rebounds, 1-5 from the three-point line, and 3-11 from the field in 28:21 minutes
What stood out during the game was his adaptability on defense. Yes, he is known for his tenacity on defense but what impressed was how he could adapt to guarding almost any player on the floor. He guarded 6-10 Danilo Gallinari to 6-6 Andre Iguodala and used his length, foot speed, an tenacious defense to slow them down. In addition, Leonard did state one area on defense he is working on is weak-side defense which he showed off during the game. Add the fact he finished with four blocks, he might be looking at a nod for the All-Defensive team this upcoming season.
On offense, he tended to rush shots as evidenced by his final shooting percentages, however, as head coach Gregg Popovich said prior to the game, shooting in the preseason really doesn't matter. He is working hard on his outside shot (as he was doing so in pregame warmups) and should improve his outside game as the season progresses. Still, despie the fact he had an off-shooting night, seeing him not give up on finding his shooting stroke was good to see.
What do you have to say Spurs fans? Are you expecting Kawhi to have a breakout season?
Yea defensively he was a real gamer last year just on instincts mostly. This year Kawhi will be more learned and will be more technical in his defensive assignments, as will all the Spurs. Pop is really trying to emphasize D. KL will be ringleader and will be contagious for the whole team. All defensive team? I'd say YES !! Offensively he will have more opportunity. "Breakout season" in Spurs and Pop country means fulfill your role. KL will have a bigger role. we are HAPPY with that !! Good article !
Two things: 1. I don't care about his stats, this game was the best game I've ever seen Kawhi play. He was fantastic, and a lot of his shots didn't go in because of my second point. 2. I'm decently sure Pop told the refs to give the Nuggets all the calls in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. You guys might think I'm being crazy here, but the fact of the matter is, Neal and Jackson each got 3 foul calls in the span of about 2 minutes, and Brown and Curry got called for two fouls when they were about 4 feet away from the player. I think he was trying to test the players and see what would happen when the calls don't go their way.
That shooting percentage will come by. But what astounding is his defense. Going against a lineup of probably the most athletic one in the league. Kawhi was a menace. He's evrywhere. He doesn't need to improve a lot on the offense as the line up has a lot of pretty good shooters. Kawhi improved vastly after one season.It's just a preseason game but hey. Seeing Kawhi on the floor, he took the game seriously. So those stats are no fluke.