Kawhi Leonardís sleepy visage masks a burning ambition. When Spurs coach Gregg Popovich declared, after a strike-shortened rookie season, that Leonard would one day be the face of the franchise, he barely blinked. Indeed, Leonard willingly ramped up expectations that are already sky-high by voicing his desire to be an NBA superstar.
What can the Spurs expect from their third-year small forward in 2013-14? SpursNation.com blogger Dan McCarney looks at other elite threes at the same point in their career:
2nd year: 11.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.7 spg, 37.4 3-pt%, 16.4 PER
3rd year: ???
2nd year: 14.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.9 spg, 14.9 PER
3rd year: 16.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 5.4 apg, 2.6 spg, 16.3 PER
Comment: Pippen wouldnít make the leap to true stardom until the latter half of the 1990-91 season ó his fourth ó as his dominant all-around play helped the Bulls storm to their first championship. But he earned his first All-Star nod in Year 3 as Phil Jacksonís triangle proved a perfect fit for his versatile skill set.
2nd year: 12.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.6 spg, 16.5 PER
3rd year: 17.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.8 spg, 16.8 PER
Comment: Only one year older than Leonard at 23, the two likely will be compared throughout their careers. The Spurs would certainly be satisfied with a similar arc after George developed into a legitimate go-to player. The increased role came at a price, however, as his shooting accuracy dropped to 41.9 percent.
2nd year: 14.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 46.3 FG%, 15.8 PER
3rd year: 18.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 51.7 FG%, 18.7 PER
Comment: Long and rangy, Deng frequently is compared to Leonard despite the differences in their games, most notably the Chicago standoutís reliance on the mid-range jumper. One quality Leonard will want to model is the way Deng managed to improve his efficiency even as his role increased, something George wasnít able to do.
2nd year: 25.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 7.1 FTAs, 57.7 TS%, 20.8 PER
3rd year: 30.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 10.2 FTAs, 60.7 TS%, 26.2 PER
Comment: This is when Durant made the leap from mere All-Star to perennial MVP candidate. Already an elite scorer and shooter, he took another leap by learning how to get to the foul line. Thereís a lesson there for Leonard, who will never remotely resemble Durant as a scorer but can still aspire to the same desire for improvement.
2nd year: 15.1 ppg, 3.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 30.2 3-pt%, 15.8 PER
3rd year: 20.2 ppg, 4.8 apg, 1.9 spg, 35.1 3-pt%, 19.8 PER
Comment: Another player who bears zero stylistic resemblance to Leonard. But in terms of work ethic, the two gym rats might as well be brothers. Mullin was on the verge of drinking himself out of the league before turning his career around. His renewed professionalism would eventually result in his selection to the Dream Team in 1992.
Link to story: Spurs Nation Ľ Kawhi Leonard?s career about to hit stride
Basketball is not an equal opportunity game. If you can't shoot it well, you don't get to shoot. -- Bob Donewald
NO D, NO RING!!!!
With 26 points on 4 of 4 shots from distance in only 20 minutes of PT. Efficient eviceration.
Wolves' fan: ginobili vs. the wolves is like he's just kind of laughing to himself all game...kind of like he thinks it's cute that they're trying to play basketball.
Sure do hope he really wants to become the future face of the franchise and we don't have to worry about losing him.
Since you can't fix stupid, at least you should be able to prosecute it!
I'm suprised they didn't mention Shawn Marion. To me, Kawhi reminds me of his game the most. They're not identical by any means but I think their games are fairly similar. Anyways, I see 15-17ppg and 8-10 rebs per game with a possible all-star selection this upcoming year.
I think he's going to be a star. And as time goes on, he'll be the face of the Spurs, I think.--- Coach Pop on Leonard
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