1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
One thing that’s been brought up several times in Kawhi Leonard’s first four NBA seasons is the lack of offensive sets designed for the San Diego State product. There seems to be this belief that if the Spurs are going to survive post-Duncan and Ginobili—and eventually Parker—that Leonard must gradually begin to carry the offense more as that progression moves ever closer to its culmination.
But not once has anyone recognized that almost from day one, the Spurs have tailored their defensive schemes to Leonard. It wasn’t long into his career that Kawhi So Serious (my favorite nickname for my college classmate) was guarding LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and being asked most of the time to handle those guys without any help.
And he instantly stepped up to the challenge.
Kirk Goldsberry wrote yesterday that Leonard is quickly become a legendary defensive player. Read that article. His insights are less homerific and frankly more insightful than any I can provide.
Just remember that the 6’7” forward with freakishly huge hands and an incredible wingspan guards any position Gregg Popovich asks him to. The low percentages he gives up are insane, given the versatility and skill level of the players he guards.