Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 10/22/14
The San Antonio Spurs have gone away from the defensive, shutdown philosophy that made them so successful in the past. It’s not a huge problem because they’ve improved the offense as well and can still win by outscoring their opponents, but on the year, the Spurs are giving up 97 points per game. One reason the Spurs could be giving up so many points is the fact that Kawhi Leonard, probably their best perimeter defender, has been out since mid-November. Since Leonard’s return last Friday, the Spurs haven’t reached their season average in points allowed, giving up 94 points against the Hornets, 91 against the Mavericks and just 80 against the Raptors. It could just be the quality of the competition, but Leonard has surely provided a defensive spark, recording 10 steals in just three games (with reduced minutes). That’s 3.3 steals per game and to put that in perspective, the league leader in steals is Chris Paul, who averages 2.71 per game. His teammates have surely noticed the effect Leonard has on the defense. Both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were singing his praises after the game against Toronto. "Kawhi is creating a lot of turnovers himself,” said Duncan. “He's getting a lot of steals and turning that into offense. It's a big thing we've been missing the last couple of weeks with him gone. It's great to have that back. It's great to see him get those steals again and make it into something."   "Huge for us,” Ginobili said. “First of all, because he is one of the only true small forwards we've got with size and strength to guard big opponents.  With his length and ability to read situations, he can get a lot of deflections and steals that give you a good lift in some parts of the game." Keep an eye on the Spurs’ defensive numbers as Leonard continues to log more minutes, especially their overall points allowed. His contribution to the team will become even more apparent as the season rolls on.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Royals take Game 2 to even series with Giants

Report: Roger Goodell will have to testify in Ray Rice case

Blake Griffin accused of slapping man in Las Vegas club

Ronda Rousey to face Cat Zingano at UFC 182

Report: Zach Mettenberger to start for Titans over Locker

LaMarr Woodley likely done for season with biceps injury

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Some Seahawks think Wilson isn’t 'black enough'

Darrelle Revis sent home for being late, misses practice

Report: Texas to pay scholarship athletes $10K per year

Report: Widespread academic fraud occurred at North Carolina

NHL postpones Senators/Leafs game after Ottawa shootings

Lions send player home from London after cutting him

WATCH: Giants pitcher yells at Salvador Perez after HR

Will Muschamp's head coaching job posted on Craigslist

Miss California USA would like to date Eric Hosmer

WATCH: Eric Bledsoe sends Clipper flying with sick move

Kiffin's mom fears for son's safety in return to Tennessee

WATCH: Penguins perform 'O Canada' following tragedy

WATCH: Cutest grandma challenges Dwyane Wade to game of one-on-one

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

Porn star: No one parties harder than Sebastian Janikowski

Outrageous college football predictions: Week 9

World Series Game 2 Preview: Giants vs. Royals

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Kiffin's mom worried for son's safety

Report: Goodell will have to testify

Penguins do 'O Canada' following tragedy

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Porn star: No one parties like Janikowski

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

The San Francisco Giants are zombies

10 bold predictions for NFL Week 8

Pitcher's wife leaves generous tip

Nicklaus defends Jameis Winston

NFL players who could be traded by the deadline

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.