It was supposed to be Jimmer’s All-Stars, but San Antonio Spurs draftee Kawhi Leonard and Team Leonard gave Kings draftee and host Jimmer Fredette a 140-126 beating in Fredette’s return to the Marriott Center in front of a crowd of Jimmer Nation loyalists.
Leonard was the captain of his team, and started with Kemba Walker, Tobias Harris, Malcolm Lee and Bismack Biyombo, while Fredette started on his team with Kaneth Faried, Nolan Smith, Jackson Emery and Chirs Singleton.
Leonard scored the first points of the game, using his quickness to get to the basket and lay it up off the glass. While he missed his next few shots, he scored twice more to end the first quarter with six points and a one-point lead in the game.
Leonard was back to business once again at the start of the second quarter, showing off surprisingly good handles as he went coast-to-coast and took on about three players before finishing with some flair.
Scoring easily in the post ended up being Leonard’s calling card pretty much the whole way through the game. He was very active and aggressive and when he didn’t score at the rim, he got to the line.
After the half, the San Diego State alumnus showed off his versatility, as his former college coach, Steve Fisher, moved him to the point-forward to bring the ball up and set up the offense. He looked surprisingly comfortable and found ways to setup teammates on several consecutive plays.
By the time the fourth quarter came around, the game turned into a three-point shootout, followed by a series of alley-oop attempts by both teams. Unlike most all-star games, while Team Leonard held a considerable lead, both squads tightened up on defense to finish the game.
Leonard finished the game with 24 points, 10 rebounds and a few assists. Watching him for a full game, granted it was a game involving rookies, left me impressed. He’s very quick on the floor, even with the basketball, and I can already imagine him running the break with Tony Parker.
Remember the Parker to Richard Jefferson alley-oop that was called about every three games? We might see that more often with Leonard, except in transition and not on a called play. Leonard also seems to be a good fit for the Spurs. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion and just gets on the court and handles business.
Defensively,he had two different match ups where he really excelled. At one point, Fredette had the mismatch on him and tried to use his speed to get past Leonard, who cut him off and forced him to pass the ball. On another player, an athletic player in his own right, Tyler Honeycutt, was matched up with Leonard, and when he tried to cross him over, Leonard seemed to almost know exactly what Honeycutt was doing. Trapped in the corner, Honeycutt had to throw a lob pass.
Leonard only took one outside shot, and missed it, and while that could really add another dimension to his game, hopefully he’ll have the services of Chip Engelland at some point within the next three months, depending on the lockout.
While it wasn’t a NBA game, Leonard showed that he is NBA-ready in several areas and has potential for so much more.
Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long to trade out his red all-star jersey for the silver & black.