Kawhi Leonard has taken the leap from “really good” to “great.” Prior to this year, the Spurs’ star young forward was viewed as a lockdown defender who could make some things happen on offense. This season, his offensive game has caught up to his play on the other side of the ball, as he’s averaging 20 points per game for the first time in his career. Not only has this helped propel San Antonio to a 38-6 start to the year, but it’s helped cement Leonard as a legitimate MVP candidate.
One person who has taken notice of Leonard’s stellar play is Golden State coach Steve Kerr. In anticipation of Monday night’s showdown between the Spurs and the Warriors, Kerr took a moment to praise Leonard, who he believes is the league’s best two-way player.
“We always talk about two-way players and how important it is, especially in the modern NBA, where you can’t hide a guy at either end,” Kerr said. “He’s probably the best two-way player in the league now.”
“You have to deal with him in all kinds of different ways,” Kerr said. “He’s a terror on defense, and offensively he’s gotten better and better. His 3-point shooting is really, really good. And he’s so strong that he can score around the rim. He’s a great player, and it’s kind of slowly but surely become his team in a lot of ways.”
Kerr mentioned that the Spurs use Leonard similarly to how the Warriors use their ultra-versatile star, Draymond Green. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich also noted that the two players are similar, saying, “They’re pretty complete players. They play at both ends of the floor and they’re unselfish people. They’re each quite important to their teams, for sure.”
While you can argue all you want about the validity of Kerr’s statement, there is no denying that Leonard has turned himself into one of the most devastating players on both sides of the ball in the league. Watching Leonard go up against Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson when the Spurs are on defense will be as fun as watching him battle with Green and Andre Iguodala on offense, so make sure you tune in to the game on Monday.
(via CSN Bay Area)