By Brandon Easler
Drama is one thing that usually does not concern the historic Spurs dynasty, as they are usually more concerned with competing for championships. Many people would think the teams with multiple big name stars would have to deal with this, and not a team that is filled with young raw talent and also seasoned vets such as Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, Danny Green, and LaMarcus Aldridge. However, Kawhi Leonard is starting to stir up some drama after some of his actions recently. Kawhi has been medically cleared to play, but he has not returned to the active roster and it seems as if there is no indication that he has plans to play again this season.
These problems have stemmed from Leonard’s right quad injury. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Leonard has been described as “distant” and “disconnected” from the organization ever since the nagging injury first held him out of the preseason. Leonard is at odds with team doctors on the handling of his injury and his timetable for return, which stems from his concern about the possibility of re-injuring himself and being out for a much longer period of time. Also looming large is Leonard’s upcoming free agency in 2019, but he does have a player option for the 2019-20 season. However, if the current trajectory of this frayed relationship between player and organization stays on track then he will most likely decline and become an unrestricted free agent.
Leonards’ stats show that he is arguably one of the best two-way players in the league today. Over the past three years prior to this one, Leonard has posted averages of 16.5, 21.2, and 25.5 points per game. Along with improving his scoring average in each successive year, he continues to average almost two steals per game and even led the league with 2.3 steals per game in the 14-15 season. In addition to these stellar stats, he has been selected to be an all-star in the two years prior to this one, has been selected as the two-time defensive player of the year in the 14-15 and 15-16 seasons, and even finished third in MVP voting last year behind Westbrook and Harden. According to his advanced stats Leonard is arguably a top 10 player both offensively and defensively.
It will be interesting to see if Kawhi can continue his ascension into stardom after coming off of this injury, and whether he will continue to star for the Spurs or some other team. Even without Leonard, the Spurs continue to win due to exceptional coaching from arguably one of the best to ever do it in Coach Pop. However, the Spurs have little to no shot at making a big splash in the playoffs without Leonard in the fold.
All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com.
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