Kawhi Leonard has never really looked like a rookie. He showed from day one with the Spurs that he was ready to contribute. It wasn’t as a scorer or a sharpshooter, just as a role player that could do what was asked of him in all situations.
His stats, like his minutes, were sporadic all season long. Some games putting in 20 points, others just 4, but he would never complain. He knows exactly what he means to his team and he’ll gladly do whatever is needed.
Even though he doesn’t really get to be part of the spotlight in San Antonio, he’s still drawn some attention nationally. So much that he was asked to be a part of the 2012 Select Team roster. He’s playing alongside other young standouts like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Favors, John Wall and Klay Thompson in Las Vegas, scrimmaging against the Olympic team to get them ready for London.
“It’s a great experience,” Leonard said. “Going against the top 15 guys in the world. I’m just trying to learn a few things from them. See how they worked to get to where they are.”
There’s definitely a lot to learn. Leonard will be guarding the best small forwards and shooting guards in the world. He’ll be battling daily against guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, bringing some valuable experience back with him to San Antonio next season.
If Leonard stays with the Spurs long term, he’s going to be called on for many years to come to guard Kevin Durant when they take on the Thunder. The Thunder are looking to start a Western Conference dynasty and whether or not the Spurs can slow down Durant will be huge if they want to put a stop to it and retake the top spot.
It’s a great honor for Kawhi Leonard to be on the Select Team, and it’s going to be invaluable to his career going forward, but it could also be the start of something great. If Leonard continues to play and improve like he is, we may see him playing against the Select squad as a member of the Olympic team.