Pregame: For Leonard, Clippers matchup is just another game

Kawhi LeonardOn Monday night, San Antonio Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard made his rookie debut by coming off the bench to help defend Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay.

“It felt good,” Leonard said. “I just went out and tried to have fun and get a win.”

Fun is the same word Leonard used to describe guarding Gay after Monday’s win.

Now, just two days later, Leonard gets another challenge, and perhaps more fun as he will likely be asked to help defend almost-Spur Caron Butler.

Oh yea, and snaring away rebounds from the Clipper’s Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will be a tall task as well if that wasn’t enough.

But if you thought playing against the new-look Clippers was going to faze the rookie forward, you’d be wrong. It’s business as usual for Leonard

“I’m just looking forward to playing another game today, just doing what I’m told, doing my role to help the team win,” Leonard said.

As for defending Butler, who averaged 15 points per game last season with the Dallas Mavericks, Leonard didn’t give it a second thought.

“Every game is a challenge, so I’m just going to go out and play my hardest these games so I can help the team out with a win,” Leonard said.

It’s clear from just a few questions that winning is on Leonard’s mind a lot more than individual matchups, just like the other 12 players on the roster.

While the Spurs took a risk on Leonard on draft day, it looks like that risk is already paying dividends.

“We expected him to be a rotation player,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “There’s more there than I expected.”

“Both basketball IQ wise and skill wise, he’s more than I expected,” Popovich said.

Paul Garcia contributed to this post. 

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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