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Kawhi Anthony Leonard (/kəˈw/, born June 29, 1991) is an American professional basketball player for the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard Dunk cropped.jpg
Leonard with the Spurs in 2017
No. 2 – Toronto Raptors
Position Small forward
League NBA
Personal information
Born (1991-06-29) June 29, 1991 (age 27)
Los Angeles, California
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight 230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High school Canyon Springs
(Moreno Valley, California)
Martin Luther King
(Riverside, California)
College San Diego State (2009–2011)
NBA draft 2011 / Round: 1 / Pick: 15th overall
Selected by the Indiana Pacers
Playing career 2011–present
Career history
20112018 San Antonio Spurs
2018–present Toronto Raptors
Career highlights and awards
Stats at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, Leonard was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in his first season with the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard won an NBA championship with the Spurs in 2014, when he was also named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. He is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, having won in 2015 and 2016, and is a two-time All-NBA First Team member (2016 and 2017).

Leonard played two seasons of college basketball for the San Diego State Aztecs, and was a consensus second-team All-American as a sophomore.

Contents

High school career

Leonard attended Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California, before transferring to Martin Luther King High School his junior year. In Leonard's senior year, he and Tony Snell led the King High Wolves to a 30–3 record. Leonard averaged 22.6 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.0 blocks per game that year and won California Mr. Basketball.[1]

Considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Leonard was listed as the No. 8 small forward and the No. 48 player in the nation in 2009.[2]

College career

 
Leonard with San Diego State in 2009

As a freshman at San Diego State University in 2009–10, Leonard averaged 12.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game for the Aztecs.[3] He helped lead the Aztecs to a 25–9 record and the Mountain West Conference (MWC) tournament title. SDSU received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament[4] but lost to Tennessee 62–59 in the first round, with Leonard recording 12 points and 10 rebounds.[5] He led the MWC in rebounding and was named MWC freshman of the year, first team All-MWC, and the 2010 MWC Tournament MVP.[6]

In Leonard's sophomore season, he averaged 15.7 points and 10.4 rebounds[7] as the Aztecs finished with a 34–3 record and won back-to-back conference tournament championships.[8] Leonard and San Diego State would once again make the NCAA tournament.[9] This time, SDSU would advance to the Sweet 16 where they lost to eventual national champion UConn.[10] Leonard was named to the Second Team All-America and would forgo his final two seasons at San Diego State to enter the 2011 NBA draft.

Professional career

San Antonio Spurs

2011–12 season: Rookie year

Leonard was selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers but was traded that night to the San Antonio Spurs along with the rights to Erazem Lorbek and Dāvis Bertāns in exchange for George Hill.[11] On December 10, 2011, following the conclusion of the NBA lockout, he signed a multi-year deal with the Spurs.[12]

Leonard and teammate Tiago Splitter were selected to play in the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge as members of Team Chuck. Although he suited up for the event, he did not play due to a calf strain.[13] After starter Richard Jefferson was traded to the Golden State Warriors for Stephen Jackson, Leonard was promoted to the starting small forward position while Jackson served as his backup.

At season's end, Leonard placed fourth in Rookie of the Year voting[14] and was named to the 2012 NBA All-Rookie First Team.[15]

"I think he's going to be a star. And as time goes on, he’ll be the face of the Spurs, I think. At both ends of the court, he is really a special player. And what makes me be so confident about him is that he wants it so badly. He wants to be a good player, I mean a great player. He comes early, he stays late, and he's coachable. He's just like a sponge. When you consider he's only had [two years] of college and no training camp yet, you can see that he's going to be something else."

Gregg Popovich, in 2012, on Leonard[16]

In the summer of 2012, Leonard was among several NBA up-and-comers chosen to play for the 2012 USA men's basketball Select Team. They trained with the Olympic team which featured Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and others.[17]

2012–13 season: First Finals appearance

On October 26, 2012, the Spurs exercised the team option on Leonard, re-signing him through the 2013–14 season.[18]

Leonard was selected to play for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge where he was once again drafted to Team Chuck.[19] He recorded 20 points and 7 rebounds as Team Chuck defeated Team Shaq for the second straight year 163–135.[20]

The San Antonio Spurs advanced to the NBA Finals where they faced the Miami Heat. Leonard averaged 14.6 points and 11.1 rebounds during the Finals as the Spurs lost the series in seven games.

2013–14 season: NBA championship and Finals MVP

 
Leonard handing a signed ball to President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony honoring the Spurs team that won the 2014 NBA Championship

On April 6, 2014, Leonard scored a season-high 26 points in the Spurs' 112–92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.[21] He finished the season averaging 12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals while shooting 52.2% from the field. Leonard helped the Spurs to a 62–20 record – the number one seed in the NBA – and was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team for the first time.[22]

The Spurs and the Miami Heat met once again in the NBA Finals. On June 10, 2014, in Game 3 of the series, Leonard scored a then career-high 29 points in a 111–92 victory.[23] San Antonio went on to win the series 4–1. Leonard averaged 17.8 points on 61% shooting and was named NBA Finals MVP.[24][25] He was the third-youngest player to win the award (22 years and 351 days),[26] behind only Magic Johnson—who won in both 1980 (20 years and 278 days) and 1982 (22 years and 298 days).[27][28] Leonard was also only the sixth player, and the first since Chauncey Billups in 2004, to win Finals MVP in a season in which they were not an All-Star.[25]

2014–15 season: Defensive Player of the Year

After missing the final six preseason games and the season opener against the Dallas Mavericks due to an infection in his right eye caused by conjunctivitis, Leonard made his season debut against the Phoenix Suns on October 31 despite still suffering from blurry vision.[29] He continued to play through the blurred vision and on November 10, 2014, he scored a season-high 26 points in the Spurs' 89–85 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.[30] Following a three-game stint on the sidelines between December 17 and December 20, Leonard had an injection in his injured right hand on December 22 and was ruled out indefinitely.[31] He returned to action on January 16, 2015 after missing 15 games, recording 20 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals to lead the Spurs to a 110–96 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.[32]

On April 5, Leonard recorded 26 points and a career-high 7 steals in a 107–92 win over the Golden State Warriors.[33] On April 23, Leonard was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win both NBA Defensive Player of the Year and NBA Finals MVP.[34] The next day, he scored a playoff career-high 32 points in a Game 3 first-round playoff series victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.[35] The Spurs went on to lose the series in seven games.

2015–16 season: First All-Star selection

On July 16, 2015, Leonard re-signed with the Spurs to a five-year, $90 million contract.[36][37] On October 28, he scored a then career-high 32 points in a 112–106 season opening loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.[38] On December 3, he scored 27 points and made a career-high seven three-pointers in a 103–83 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.[39] On January 21, 2016, he was named as a starter to the Western Conference team for the 2016 All-Star Game, earning his first All-Star selection and became the sixth Spurs player in franchise history to be selected as an All-Star starter, joining George Gervin, Larry Kenon, Alvin Robertson, David Robinson and Tim Duncan.[40]

On March 23, 2016, Leonard had another 32-point outing in a 112–88 win over the Miami Heat, helping the Spurs extend their franchise-record home winning streak to 45 games (dating to 2014–15 season).[41] On April 2, he set a new career high with 33 points in a 102–95 win over the Toronto Raptors, helping the Spurs set a franchise record with their 64th victory. The Spurs topped their 63-win season in 2005–06 and extended their NBA-record home winning streak to start the season to 39 games.[42] Leonard helped the Spurs finish second in the Western Conference with a 67–15 record, and earned Defensive Player of the Year honors for a second straight year, becoming the first non-center to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons since Dennis Rodman in 1989–90 and 1990–91.[43] Additionally, he finished runner-up in the MVP voting behind Stephen Curry.[44]

In Game 3 of the Spurs' first-round playoff series with the Memphis Grizzlies, Leonard helped the Spurs go up 3–0 with a 32-point performance, tying his playoff career high.[45] After sweeping the Grizzlies, the Spurs moved on to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round. In Game 3 of the series against the Thunder, Leonard helped the Spurs go up 2–1 with 31 points and 11 rebounds.[46] However, the Spurs went on to lose the next three games, bowing out of the playoffs with a 4–2 defeat.

2016–17 season: Second All-NBA First Team selection

In the Spurs' season opener on October 25, 2016, Leonard recorded a career-high 35 points and five steals in a 129–100 win over the Golden State Warriors.[47] On January 14, 2017, he set a new career high with 38 points in a 108–105 loss to the Phoenix Suns, becoming the first Spur to record three consecutive 30-point games since Tony Parker in 2012.[48] On January 19, he was named a starter for the Western Conference All-Star team in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game and had 34 points against the Denver Nuggets for his fifth straight 30-point performance.[49] Two days later, he set a new career high with 41 points in a 118–115 overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, becoming the first San Antonio player to score at least 30 in six straight games since Mike Mitchell in 1986.[50] He subsequently earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors for games played Monday, January 16 through Sunday, January 22.[51][52]

On February 13, 2017, Leonard made 13 of 23 shots including two three-pointers and finished with 32 points, six rebounds and four steals in a 110–106 win over the Indiana Pacers. It was his fifth straight 30-point game. With their 42nd victory of the season coming against the Pacers, the Spurs extended their streak of consecutive winning seasons to a league-record 20.[53] On March 6, after being named Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career, Leonard scored 39 points to lead the Spurs to a 112–110 win over the Houston Rockets. It was his 91st straight game scoring in double figures, matching San Antonio's longest streak since Tim Duncan did so in 2002–03.[54][55]

On April 15, 2017, Leonard matched his postseason high with 32 points in a 111–82 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.[56] Two days later, in Game 2, Leonard had a postseason career-high 37 points and added 11 rebounds in a 96–82 win over Memphis to take a 2–0 series lead.[57] In Game 4 of the series in Memphis, Leonard had another postseason personal best with 43 points in a 110–108 overtime loss; the loss tied the series at 2–2.[58] Behind a 29-point effort from Leonard in Game 6, the Spurs advanced to the Western Conference semifinals by beating Memphis 103–96 to take the series 4–2.[59] The Spurs went on to advance to the Western Conference Finals with a 4–2 triumph over the Houston Rockets in the second round, despite playing without Leonard in Game 6 due to an ankle injury.[60]

In the third quarter of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Leonard landed on Zaza Pachulia's foot after attempting a field goal and re-aggravated his existing ankle injury. He exited the game with 26 points and sat out the remainder of the series as the Spurs lost to the Warriors in four games. Leonard finished the season with averages of 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game in the regular season, and 27.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.7 steals for the playoffs.[61] He was subsequently selected to the All-NBA First Team for the second time in his career,[62] as well as earning All-Defensive First Team honors for the third time in three years.[63]

2017–18 season: Injury-plagued season

Leonard's 2017–18 season was overshadowed by an injury, and by ensuing disputes between Leonard and the Spurs regarding the handling of that injury. He missed the first 27 games of the season with a right quadriceps injury, making his season debut on December 12, 2017, against the Dallas Mavericks.[64] On December 26, 2017, in just his fifth game of the season, Leonard scored a season-high 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting in a 109–97 win over the Brooklyn Nets.[65] On January 2, 2018, he set a new season high with 25 points in a 100–91 win over the New York Knicks.[66] Three days later, in a game against the Phoenix Suns, Leonard suffered a partial tear in his left shoulder.[67][68] He returned to action on January 13 after missing three games and scored 19 points in a 112–80 win over the Denver Nuggets.[69] Four days later, however, he was ruled out for an indefinite period of time to continue his rehabilitation process from right quadriceps tendinopathy.[70] Leonard was subsequently cleared to play by the Spurs medical staff, but he solicited a second opinion from his own doctors.[71]

In March, the Spurs held a players-only meeting in which Leonard's teammates reportedly asked him to return to the court; the meeting was described as "tense and emotional".[72] Leonard did not play again in 2018.[73]

Toronto Raptors

In June 2018, reports surfaced claiming that Leonard had requested a trade from the Spurs; this followed months of allegations that there was growing tension between Leonard's camp and the Spurs stemming from a disagreement over his injury rehabilitation process.[74] A month later, on July 18, Leonard and teammate Danny Green were traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Pöltl and a protected 2019 first round draft pick.[75]

Career statistics

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denotes season in which Leonard won an NBA championship
* Led the league

NBA

Regular season

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2011–12 San Antonio 64 39 24.0 .493 .376 .773 5.1 1.1 1.3 .4 7.9
2012–13 San Antonio 58 57 31.2 .494 .374 .825 6.0 1.6 1.7 .6 11.9
2013–14 San Antonio 66 65 29.1 .522 .379 .802 6.2 2.0 1.7 .8 12.8
2014–15 San Antonio 64 64 31.8 .479 .349 .802 7.2 2.5 2.3* .8 16.5
2015–16 San Antonio 72 72 33.1 .506 .443 .874 6.8 2.6 1.8 1.0 21.2
2016–17 San Antonio 74 74 33.4 .485 .381 .880 5.8 3.5 1.8 .7 25.5
2017–18 San Antonio 9 9 23.3 .468 .314 .816 4.7 2.3 2.0 1.0 16.2
Career 407 380 30.4 .495 .386 .846 6.2 2.3 1.8 .7 16.3
All-Star 2 2 20.2 .526 .125 .000 4.0 2.5 1.5 .0 10.5

Playoffs

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2012 San Antonio 14 14 27.1 .500 .450 .813 5.9 .6 1.2 .4 8.6
2013 San Antonio 21 21 36.9 .545 .390 .633 9.0 1.0 1.8 .5 13.5
2014 San Antonio 23 23 32.0 .510 .419 .736 6.7 1.7 1.7 .6 14.3
2015 San Antonio 7 7 35.7 .477 .423 .771 7.4 2.6 1.1 .6 20.3
2016 San Antonio 10 10 33.9 .500 .436 .824 6.3 2.8 2.6 1.4 22.5
2017 San Antonio 12 12 35.8 .525 .455 .931 7.8 4.6 1.7 .5 27.7
Career 87 87 33.4 .514 .427 .803 7.3 1.9 1.7 .6 16.5

College

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2009–10 San Diego State 34 33 31.3 .455 .205 .726 9.9 1.9 1.4 .7 12.7
2010–11 San Diego State 36 36 32.6 .444 .291 .759 10.6 2.5 1.4 .7 15.5
Career 70 69 31.9 .449 .250 .744 10.2 2.2 1.4 .7 14.1

Awards and honors

Personal life

Leonard is the son of Mark Leonard and Kim Robertson. He is the youngest child of the family and has four sisters.[76] His father, Mark, was shot and killed on January 18, 2008, at the Compton car wash he owned.[77] As of 2014, the murderer had still not been found,[78][79][80] and the family had stopped asking authorities for updates.[81] Leonard is the cousin of Stevie Johnson, American football wide receiver.[82][83]

Leonard's girlfriend, Kishele Shipley,[84] gave birth to their first child in July 2016.[85]

References

  1. ^ Leung, Diamond (April 15, 2011). "SDSU loses Kawhi Leonard and his recruiter". ESPN. Retrieved December 21, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Rivals.com". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  3. ^ [1] ESPN.go.com
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  5. ^ [2] GoAztecs.com
  6. ^ Player Bio GoAztecs.com
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  8. ^ Zeigler, Mark (March 12, 2011). "Aztecs beat BYU to win MWC Tournament". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on June 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ Goodman, Jeff (March 7, 2011). "Goodman's 2010–11 All-America teams". Fox Sports. Fox Sports Interactive Media. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2011. 
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  78. ^ Father's memory helps drive Aztecs star Fox Sports, January 20, 2011
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  84. ^ "The tight arse worth a cool $94 million". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  85. ^ "Kawhi Leonard expecting birth of first child this summer". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 

External links