For years, we wondered who would become the next Michael Jordan. Eventually, we will ponder who is the closest thing to LeBron James. But for today, it appears the man who most resembles Kobe Bryant is the San Antonio Spurs’ small forward Kawai Leonard.
If you’re thinking to yourself ‘no way!’ Take it directly from the mouth of Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins, who was almost at a loss for words after Leonard torched his club for 30 points.
Although the NBA season is still in its infancy, Leonard hasn’t wasted any time becoming the focal point of the Spurs’ offense, now that Tim Duncan has retired. Through the first two games of the season, Leonard was the first player since 1979 to compile 65 points and 10 steals.
During the most recent preseason, there was a report that LaMarcus Aldridge, who signed with the Spurs last offseason by way of the Portland Trailblazers, was unhappy that Leonard, not he, was the main cog in the team’s offensive machine. Aldridge felt he was lied to — that the organization told him after Duncan called it a career, the team would game plan around the 6’11” forward as the No. 1 option to put points on the board.
— November 5th (@Mannyy_Phresh) September 15, 2016
Clearly, Leonard, the 5th year man out of San Diego State didn’t get the memo as he’s already averaging 28.4 PPG at a clip of 37.44 MPG. Will he be able to sustain a 14 PPG increase over his career numbers? According to teammate Pau Gasol, that shouldn’t be an issue.
He’s a special player, without a question. I’ve been around, and I’ve played against incredible players, but this guy is just unique. He’s definitely very confident and determined. He may not talk too much and might keep it quiet most of the time, but his demeanor and his swagger is pretty high even though he doesn’t show much. He doesn’t express it. The way he plays, it’s pretty obvious.
Kawai Leonard and Kyrie Irving both went off tonight….After shadowing Kobe all summer with them 6a.m. Workouts. ? still affecting the game pic.twitter.com/J4hcyg9RrY
— *BvS is GREAT* ⁶? (@Yuey_J4) October 26, 2016
All-in-all, it’s been a pretty fantastic start to the 2016-17 NBA season for the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The Golden State Warriors may not have as easy a march to the Western Conference Championship if Kawai Leonard has anything to say about it.