Kawhi Leonard has accomplished a lot early in his career.
He was named an All-Star for the first time in his career this season, was named the 2014 NBA Finals MVP and has been named the Defensive Player of the Year. At 24 years old, his resume is already a mile long.
That doesn't mean he doesn't have room to grow. After the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 106-102 on Saturday, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich asked five-time world champion and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant about possibly mentoring the young star, which Kobe commented on, per Ananth Pandian of CBS Sports:
After the game we talked about Kawhi a little bit. [Popovich] wanted me to stay in his ear a little bit and talk to him a little bit. I definitely, definitely, definitely will. I think he has a tremendous amount of potential and he's only going to get better. So if I can help him out in that regard, I most certainly will.
Despite his long list of accomplishments, Leonard is having a career-best season in his fifth year. He's averaging a career-high 20 points per game while shooting a career-best 47 percent from three-point range.
But if there's anyone who would be a perfect mentor to Leonard, it's Bryant. As he nears the end of his playing career, Bryant is a fountain of knowledge that could benefit any young player. It's almost the same situation as when Michael Jordan played against a young Bryant.
Bryant also talked about Leonard's comparison to another stellar Spurs defender, Bruce Bowen. Bryant said, per Pandian, that while he's only played Leonard a handful of times, both he and Bowen do certain things great:
It's very difficult to give you a very intelligent … I could give you a BS answer but it's hard to make that comparison. I saw Bruce so many times. Kawhi I've only played against one-and-a-half times and nothing at a really high level of a matchup. So it's very hard for me to compare the two. From what I see on TV Bruce uses length a lot more. He was kind of in and out, tapping the arms and trying to break your rhythm, things of that nature. Kawhi tends to use his body a lot more and plays position a lot more. But they both have phenomenal hands.
Leonard has the capability to be an even better defender than Bowen ever was. Add the offensive aspect of his game, guided by Bryant and his killer instinct, and Leonard could be an even more dangerous player than he is now. And that says something.
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