The NBA 2016-17 season started with a bang especially for the San Antonio Spurs as they beat the Western Conference defending champion the Golden State Warriors with a big margin of 29 points.
The San Antonio Spurs now lives in the post-Tim Duncan era who was the face of the franchise for 19 years. Now a new but familiar face is taking over in the name of Kawhi Leonard.
The former San Diego State Aztecs forward will be the new Spurs leader this season and he proves that he’s capable by scoring a career-high of 35 points against the new and upgraded Warriors during the opening night.
1. Drafted by the Indiana Pacers
Kawhi Leonard was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the 2011 NBA Draft. He was picked at number 15 in the first round and was traded on the same night for George Hill.
After the shortened 2011-12 NBA season got concluded, Leonard was fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting and was named to the 2012 NBA All-Rookie First Team.
2. Large Hands
This is probably the secret of Kawhi Leonard to make an easy steal which also makes him an impressive defender.
During the 2016 NBA Western Semi-Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Leonard demonstrated his amazing gifts as he easily swiped the pass of Roberson to Westbrook.
And here’s a much closer look.
No pass is safe around Kawhi Leonard pic.twitter.com/95kEZH3GXs
— The Cauldron (ICYMI) (@CauldronICYMI) May 9, 2016
Leonard’s hands size is 9.8 inches long and almost the same size as Shaq.
3. Michael Jordan Will Be Proud
Kawhi Leonard is the first Jordan brand athlete to be named Finals MVP since the great Michael Jordan after the Spurs beat the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals.
Other notable names under the Jordan brand are Ray Allen, Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldrgidge, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
4. Third Youngest player to win Finals MVP
Magic Johnson won his first Finals MVP during his rookie year in 1980, he was 20 years old at that time. The other young man who led his team to win a championship and won a Finals MVP is his former teammate Tim Duncan, one of the best big men the league has seen.
Leonard won his first Finals MVP back in 2014 with their rematch against the Miami Heat led by Bosh, Wade and LeBron. He was also 22 at that time.
5. The Present and the Future of San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard is the Spurs player that connects the present and the future of the franchise. Tim Duncan already announced his retirement before the 2016-17 NBA season began. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker will surely follow as father time is unavoidable and this is also true even to their newly hired big man Paul Gasol.
Spurs management already started making a new core as they called up the service of LaMarcus Aldridge last season. We’ll just wait and see who will be the Spurs of the future but for sure Leonard will carry the winning mentality he acquired from his previous teammates.