Will he fall off from his rookie year? Is he the best emerging small forward in the NBA today? Can he find his shots within the shadow of the Big Three? Does he have stardom written all over his game?
These are just some of the questions surrounding Kawhi Leonard as he embarks on his sophomore season with the San Antonio Spurs after a rookie season that saw the 6-foot-7 small forward out of San Diego State (selected 15th overall by the Spurs in 2011) average 7.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and shot nearly 50 percent from the field during 64 games (starts) and be named to the 2011-12 NBA All-Rookie Team.
But perhaps the more pressing question right now for Leonard is can he break out of this preseason shooting slump and move his game forward before the start of the regular season?
San Antonio faces the Washington Wizards in their last preseason game on Friday night and Leonard is only shooting a paltry 24 percent from the field, but he is leaving little room for worry at this point and for good reason.
No, not (concerned) at all,” Leonard said when asked about his shot. “I’m still trying to get my legs under me. I’m making shots at practice. I know they’ll start falling once the season comes.”
“I feel comfortable with (my shot)…I’ve got to get my rhythm right and start knocking down shots. (I’m getting) the same shots as last year.
Dissecting Leonard’s low shooting percentage in the preseason is yet a very small blemish in what should be a bright second season for the 21-year old.
There is a lot of on-the-job-training still going on, especially knowing how Leonard rushed through his first training camp with the Spurs no thanks to the lockout shortened season. The back-to-back-to-back regular season games surely didn’t help matters either for a kid dazed and confused about being in the NBA.
But look what Leonard accomplished and even his play during the postseason (8.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.2 steals, 50 percent FG, 45 percent 3-point in 14 games) made the rest of the league take notice.
The diligent offseason workouts and two Las Vegas Summer League games (averaging 25 points) he appeared in were a solid start to the long road ahead this season. Chalk these preseason woes up to some growing pains.
'It’s hard to tell how a player will develop in five years, but he has all of the weapons. He’s developing a better offensive game; he has the defense and rebounding. It just depends on how he works on his game in the off-season, but he can be an All-Star,' Manu Ginobili said of Leonard.
That is some high praise coming from Ginobili and after just one year in the league, it is warranted about Leonard.
He just has to make the slight adjustment of improving parts of his game starting now.
Will Kawhi Leonard match his rookie year performance? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter by using the hashtag #SpursDay.