Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 11/17/14
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

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Report: Sharper, NFLers called spiked drinks 'horny juice'

Rex Ryan: My wife could coach Tom Brady

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jim Harbaugh won in laser tag by 'hunting' 10-year-old kid

Eddie Lacy is ‘very blind,’ refuses to wear goggles

Michael Phelps pleads guilty to DUI, gets probation

NFL scouts not in love with Amari Cooper?

Report: No teams interested in trading for Lance Stephenson

It is not Chip Kelly's fault if Eagles miss playoffs

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

Video: Grizzlies buy car for assistant who had his stolen

Video: LeBron takes pass to the face from Dion Waiters

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

President Obama calls James Franco “James Flacco”

NBA games of the weekend: Rondo's Dallas debut, Bulls-Grizz

Tuscaloosa students will have two days off if Bama plays in National Championship

Brady scares the **** out of his teammates celebrating

Longhorn Network’s yule log? Five hours of BEVO

Will a Chiefs WR finally catch a TD in Week 16?

Jon Lester and the Cubs

The Toronto Raptors reveal their new logo

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Why the Saints are legit playoff threat

Impact of U.S.-Cuba relations on MLB

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.