Since Tim Duncan entered the league in 1997, the word flashy has never been used to describe the San Antonio Spurs as a franchise. The “Big Fundamental” has preached consistency since the day he arrived, and it has clearly been passed on to the next generation of Spurs.
With Duncan now 39 years old and in the process of handing the leadership reins to small forward Kawhi Leonard, the former San Diego State Aztec appears to be more than up for the challenge. The 24-year-old has burst onto the scene this season, firmly establishing himself as one of the top-5 players in the league.
But don’t think his recent success has made him forget where he came from.
Despite inking a five-year, $94 million contract to remain with the Spurs, one couldn’t tell Leonard’s financial success from the way he carries himself. He still drives the same ’97 Chevy Tahoe he had while in high school, and treats every Wingstop coupon as if it is pure gold. As a spokesperson for the chicken wing company, Kawhi is quite vocal (a rare occurrence for him) about his deep love for Mango Habanero wings.
But no matter what quirks Leonard may have off the court, the Spurs can’t ask for much more on it. For the fifth consecutive season, Leonard has increased his points per game total (now 21.0), and is shooting an astounding 46.0 percent from beyond the arc. In addition to leading San Antonio in scoring, he remains the best perimeter defender in the league and is well on his way to a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Helping lead his team to a ridiculous 57-10 through 67 games, Leonard’s brilliance has been overshadowed by Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Don’t think that bothers Leonard though, as it’s pretty clear he likes to stay as unnoticed as humanly possible.