This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone paying special attention. But context still renders Kawhi Leonard’s offensive performance over the first few weeks of 2015-16 overlooked on the league-wide scale.
After his unassuming youngster dropped an easy 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the season opener, Gregg Popovich anointed Leonard’s “arrival” as a superstar. That bucked conventional public wisdom from multiple perspectives, most obvious of which were the San Antonio Spurs coach singling out an individual and the 24-year-old supposedly establishing himself as his veteran team’s alpha dog.
Was he really ready to make the leap after a season of relatively pedestrian per-game numbers? And would the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge allow him to take the reins of San Antonio’s offense the way Popovich seemed to be suggesting?
All Leonard has done in the interim is ensure his coach’s glowing early appraisal came up something short of eventual reality. Nearly a month into 2015-16, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year has become nearly as dominant offensively as he is on the other end of the floor.