2011 NBA Draft Grades: San Antonio Spurs Land Top-10 Talent in Kawhi Leonard
Rarely, do both teams benefit from a trade equally, but when the Indiana Pacers traded the 15th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard, for San Antonio Spurs guard George Hill, both teams in fact make equal progress.
In Kawhi Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs get a potential long-term replacement for Richard Jefferson, who is not getting any younger. Original reports had the Spurs packaging Jefferson with Tony Parker and trying to swing a trade that could land them a selection much higher than 15, but they never had to give up that much to get the man they wanted.
Leonard may not be ready to contribute right away, but absolutely has top 10 potential. Arguably, he already defends at an NBA level, and his athleticism is off the chart. He'll have to increase his range and find some more consistency with his jump shot, but he's not as offensively-inept as many experts claim, and should easily be groomed into a capable offensive player.
More than anything, though, he'll be a valuable energy guy for the Spurs. A guy who can come in and get steals, crowd passing lanes, complicate offensive flow for the opposition, hit the boards and increase his team's chances at maintaining possession of the ball.
The Spurs are certainly gambling that they can develop Leonard, as he's not quite ready for the labors of the NBA yet, at least in terms of his inability to consistently contribute on offense. But considering the makeup of San Antonio's coaching staff, you have to feel good about their chances of grooming Leonard and molding him into a quality bench player, if not a high-motor starter.
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