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NBA Playoffs 2012: Spurs' Offseason Moves Are Vital to Their Playoff Success

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers grabs a rebound against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in the first quarter in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 20, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
Garrett JochnauCorrespondent IIMay 25, 2012

Genius, mastermind, wizard.

When using adjectives to describe Gregg Popovich and the Spurs' organization, the list seems to go on forever. However, after seeing their current situation, it seems necessary to add "Psychic" to that list.

Earlier last June, the Spurs made a draft-day deal, sending George Hill to Indiana in exchange for their first-round draft pick Kawhi Leonard.

The trade caught many off guard, as the low-key Spurs rarely make noise in the rumor mill. After seeing Hill's contributions, the trade seemed very confusing—something completely out of the blue that made no real sense at the time.

However, looking back on the deal, their current situation makes you wonder whether Popovich and R.C. Buford can really predict the future.

Their Western Conference Finals matchup will be with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Remaining in the East are the Heat and the Celtics/Sixers.

Each of these teams are defined by a different characteristic, each possessing different traits that help drive them to success. However, all else aside, one glaring similarity sticks out like a sore thumb.

Each of these remaining playoff teams' best player stands at the small forward position. The Thunder have Kevin Durant while the Heat have league MVP, LeBron James. The Sixers are led by Andre Iguodala, while Paul Pierce helps lead the Boston Celtics' attack.

Last year, no position was as much of a liability for San Antonio than the 3 spot. Richard Jefferson is on the decline, and in a starting lineup surrounded by future Hall of Famers, his position lacked the star power and talent to make the team elite.

If the Leonard-trade had not gone down, Jefferson would have remained the small forward, and the defensive-focused Kawhi Leonard would fail to be a household name in San Antonio.

If the team made it this far into the playoffs, no player would have a chance at shutting down the offensive juggernaut known around the league as Kevin Durant.

If, by some miracle, they finished off the Thunder, then the potential LeBron/Pierce/Iguodala matchup would also lead to the Spurs' demise.

However, the team made the necessary precautions by trading for Leonard, and secured a player who cannot only hang with the best small forwards in the league defensively, but provide the team with a bright future.

Leonard not only lived up to his promise, but exceeded expectations. His spot on the All-Rookie First Team, as well as his nomination for Rookie of the Year show how extremely talented the young man is.

Now, as the Spurs ready themselves for Durant and the Thunder. Standing at 6'7'' with 7'3'' wingspan, he certainly possesses the physical attributes to prevent Durant from taking over. 

While he is far from holding the advantage in the matchup, he adds some competition to it—something Richard Jefferson never would have done.

Whether or not the Spurs can predict the future is another story, but after making such a monumental move in acquiring Leonard, it seems that they could tell what matchups may have been on the horizon.

Leonard will be the key member for the team going forward into the playoffs, and one of the main factors that decides the Spurs' fate.

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