AT&T CENTER – When he attended San Diego State University, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard averaged 25% shooting from 3-point range in his two-year career with the Aztecs.
In two years in the NBA, Leonard shot 38% in his rookie year and 37% in his second year. In college, Leonard never took more than 86 three pointers in a season, whereas in the NBA, he took 104 in his rookie season alone.
Coming out of college and into the NBA, Leonard wasn’t known for his ability to shoot from the outside. On Sunday, before the Spurs defeated the Sacramento Kings, I spoke with Kings guard Jimmer Fredette who played against Leonard in college at BYU (Brigham Young University) about Leonard’s transition into the NBA.
According to Fredette, back in college, Leonard wasn’t known for his outside shooting ability.
“He didn’t do it all that often,” said Fredette of Leonard being able to shoot from the outside. “He was one of those guys who would score off getting offensive rebounds, (and) he had a midrange game but his 3-point game was, (well) he could hit them, but he didn’t shoot them very often.”
Overall though, Fredette says Leonard’s game has developed as he’s molded into an NBA player and the Spurs’ organization has is to be credited for some of Leonard’s success.
“He’s transitioned very well,” said Fredette of Leonard playing in the NBA. “He’s an athletic guy, he plays really good defense. He’s really worked on his shot, so he’s hitting those three’s especially from the corners. And he has his mid-range game going and he’s posting up, so he’s continuing to develop and they’ve done a great job with him and he’s one of their top players and they need him to play well if they’re going to do well.”
Though he’s struggled early on in his third season (30% from three), Leonard has begun to slowly find his rhythm from the outside in the month of December as he’s gone from shooting 20% in November to 37% in December.
As Leonard continues to develop in his third season, he’ll not only look to improve on his outside shot, but his overall game as he’s becoming a larger part of the offense with San Antonio.