San Antonio Spurs’ small forward, Kawhi Leonard, is still approaching his fourth year in the NBA but has already proven his rookie days were over. At age 22, he has aligned himself in the likes of Tim Duncan and Magic Johnson being one of the youngest NBA Finals MVPs, having led the Spurs to win the Championship in 2014.
When the 2015 NBA season opened late this year, it’s no surprise for the whole NBA community including fans worldwide, to expect Leonard’s ball prowess to shine again. However, the young basketball star’s performance was hampered by conjunctivitis, an eye infection, which is yet to fully heal.
The athlete that he is, Leonard couldn’t help but get up and play. On October 31, 2014, Leonard played against the Phoenix Suns despite a slightly impaired vision. On November 10, 2014, Leonard once again ruled the court, scoring a season-high of 26 points, rendering the Los Angeles Clippers tailing the Spurs at 89-85.
On December 1, 2014, the Spurs played against the Philadelphia 76ers. Without Tim Duncan or Tony Parker on the floor, it would have been a chance for the 76ers to break their losing streak, but Leonard wasn’t the man to let them slide. Once again, Leonard and his big, strong hands, topped the scoreboard at 26 points, and even contributed a critical 3-point play at the final minute, leading the Spurs to another win and nailing the 76ers to their worst losing streak this season at 0-17.
No one in the Spurs has that much burden than Leonard’s. Spurs’ coach, Gregg Popovich is never secretive about his future plans for the young talent. The coach has successfully nurtured and tapped athletic talents like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Genobili, making them the Spurs’ Big Three. In time, these three pillars of Popovich’s team are going to retire, and there’s no one in the team but Leonard to take up and carry on the legacy.
The 2015 NBA season is still on, and everyone can only hope for Kawhi Leonard to consistently deliver his utmost best. That’s basically what he intends to do each time. After the Spurs-76ers game, Leonard said he’d “try to assert [himself] every night”. Coach Gregg Popovich felt confident and commented that they were giving Leonard “more of a green light”.