The Next Step for Kawhi Leonard?

Nov. 10, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich speaks with forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first quarter of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

In his rookie season, Kawhi Leonard averaged 7.9 points per game, 5.1 rebounds and emerged as San Antonio’s premier perimeter defender.

What are head coach Gregg Popovich’s plans for the team’s most important role player?

Pop envisions Leonard developing into an elite defensive stopper.

“Well we’re trying to make him a defender, a top notch defender that can become ‘All League’ kind of defender like Bruce (Bowen) was,” Popovich said.

“I think he’s got the mentality for it, the intelligence for it. He just needs the experience.”

Bruce Bowen was a key cog in three of the Spurs championships. Bowen was a top defender and a reliable three-point shooter, especially from the corners.

Leonard shot 37 percent from beyond the arc in his rookie campaign.

There are a lot of similarities in the two-role players games; and just as Bowen helped bring championship glory to the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, San Antonio hopes that Leonard can do the same.

Only problem is, time’s running out.

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Tags: Gregg Popovich Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs

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