By: Joe Cardoso
The 2016 NBA season has been full of record-setting performances and breakout seasons from players and teams. The super team in Golden State has hit a few bumps in the road and the Cavs are loading up for another final run. Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Isiah Thomas have been grabbing headlines and their seasons demand that. But one name that isn’t mentioned enough is that of quiet NBA Superstar Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. Known to most fans in the past as the defensive stopper and understudy to the great Tim Duncan, Leonard has gone to an all new level. Name another team that has lost a legend like Duncan but not missed a beat? Did Scottie Pippen take the Bulls to another level after Jordan left? What was the name of that Knicks player who took over after Ewing? The hardcore NBA fan and players/coaches in the league know how good Kawhi is and now the world is taking notice.
Averaging 26.1 points a game along with 6 rebounds and almost 4 assists, and 2 steals a game while shooting almost 50% from the field. Since January 10th he is giving the Spurs 30 points in a game 11 times. The time is NOW for the Spurs to take advantage of the Kevin Durant injury and the slim 2 game lead the Warriors have over them for home court. Kawhi was looked at and still is an elite defender but this season he has transformed into an elite scorer and a clutch baller. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are showing their age and Pau Gasol is NOT even half of what Tim Duncan was but still, the Spurs win.
While others do it loud with signature shoe commercial’s and on the court, blow ups all Leonard does is play basketball PERIOD. He is the most complete two-way player in the MVP race and I could argue in the entire league. Leonard is a throwback to a time when you spoke with your play and not a tweet or Facebook post. Sometimes the basketball gods find a perfect match in terms of team, coach, and player. With the low key just play the game ways of the Spurs, and the no-nonsense style of Greg Popovich to coach a humble man like Leonard this was a home run.
MVP voters usually go for the flashy stats and highlight plays so that may go against Kawhi when the voting comes. But when the postseason starts it will be interesting to see who is the last man standing. To quote Kid Cudi my message to the voters and fans would be “I’m in the pursuit of happiness, and I know everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold.” Meaning don’t let the hype machine sway you. And please feel free to tweet or email me the franchise that lost its LEGEND and didn’t miss a beat the way the Spurs are so far this year.
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