The NBA season entered its last week Sunday and the San Antonio Spurs find themselves in a familiar spot, near the top of the standings. But the way they’ve done it hasn’t been in typical Spurs style. Their offensive is SUPER efficient and I’m not sure there’s a team that likes playing with one another more.
However, as has been chronicled over the season, they’re just not the defensive juggernaut they used to be (though they’re not bad by any means). They don’t have Bruce Bowen and they don’t have Tim Duncan and a crew a tall, defensive minded bigs like in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Still, the “no Bowen” part looks to be changing as rookie Kawhi Leonard continues to emerge.
He’s been hailed as Bowen 2.0 by a lot of guys, including head coach Gregg Popovich. Pop even told USA Today’s J. Michael Falgoust that Kawhi could become much more than another Bruce Bowen.
“Kawhi guards the toughest perimeter player on the other team. He’s got great length. A great body. Has an inclination to do it. He enjoys the role. He’s more gifted than Bruce, skillwise,” Popovich said. “Once we figured that out we opened up for him and he worked very hard on his shot, especially his three-point shot. (Assistant coach) Chip England has spent a lot of time with him on that so he’s got confidence. He lets it fly. He’s not Chris Mullin yet but we don’t mind when he takes his open threes.”
First off, I would really, REALLY like to see Kawhi with a Chris Mullin crew cut.
Second, Pop didn’t even mention that when it comes to driving to the basket, Leonard is already light years ahead of Bruce. Seeing him dunk on guys brings warm feelings to every Spurs fans hearts and many all caps and exclamation points to their tweets. I’m still worried how a 20 year old kid is going to handle the playoffs and I hope he’ll gamble a little less on defense, but it’s hard to be disappointed with the results so far. So keep getting your dunk on, Kawhi. Keep mumbling during your post game interviews. Keep improving on defense and keep shooting those corner 3′s. You’ve made fans out of a lot us very quickly.