Kawhi Leonard may have slipped to the 15th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, where the San Antonio Spurs promptly grabbed him in a draft day deal, but
he has already garnered league-wide respect for his rapid development -- improving upon his college 3-point percentage by nearly 13 points (37.5 percent shooting from behind the arc in his first two seasons). All of this, despite an inconsistent release and the athleticism of wing defenders capable of bearing down and eliminating his space to shoot.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Leonard will likely be invited
to Team USA's July mini-camp, headed by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Leonard will join 23 high profile young players including 2012 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Larry Sanders.
Team USA will use this mini-camp as a decent barometer to judge whether Leonard is a good fit for the select team, which competes against the national team in several tune ups before Olympic and World Cup play. Moreover, last summer, Kawhi participated in Las Vegas for the U.S. Select Team
and had nothing but great things to say about the experience.
Leonard recently clamped down on fellow camp invitee Thompson in the Western Conference semifinals, limiting the second "Splash Brother" to just 14 points per 36 minutes and 41.5 percent shooting when he was on the floor, both figures below his regular season marks.
Leonard's precipitous ascension to the league elite just continues -- many of of his draft mates still remain on the fringe of their respective rotations. Leonard, meanwhile, is averaging 13.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in 37.3 minutes per game for a team two wins away from the NBA Finals.
He isn't quite a household name, but he's getting closer every year.