People say that a leopard doesn’t change its spots.
Coach Gregg Popovich has long been known for trusting young players like non-Catholics trusted the Spanish Inquisition. Come playoff time, young players have been known to have a nice warm seat on the end of the bench watching “the Big Three” of Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker carry the team.
In his two seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Kawhi Leonard has done his best to break this common practice. He has not only earned a spot in Pop’s rotation but cemented his place in the starting lineup.
After the draft day trade for George Hill, Leonard brought to the Spurs athleticism and youth that they were in dire need of.
He started to earn Coach Pop’s trust by working hard on the defensive end by taking over the role as defensive stopper vacancy that was created by the retirement of Bruce Bowen.
His contributions on the offensive end where generated either by his defense or his slashes to the rim.
From there he worked on his spot up three point shooting making sure that he was ready when Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili kicked out to the perimeter on their drives to the basket or the big men kick out of a double team in the low post.
During the NBA Finals, Leonard showed he is not afraid of the big stage and is more than capable of being a valuable asset on both ends of the court.
Now that Leonard has LOUDLY announced his presence to the rest of the NBA, the Spurs are looking for him to progress to the next level and be the team leader and carry the offensive load when injuries or Coach Pop chooses to rest the "Big Three” to keep them fresh for the playoff push.
For Leonard the time is now, will he let the opportunity slip through his hands or will he rise up and take his rightful spot as part of “the Big Three” version 2.0?
Well Spurs fans, how do you think Kawhi Leonard will respond to this challenge?