Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 11/18/14
When Kawhi Leonard came back from injury, many San Antonio Spurs fans were excited and also worried if he would need a long time to adjust back into the thick of things. To their delight, the fan base can breathe a sigh of relief and re-new their hopes for a championship run. Leonard got his shot back in the second game of his return against the Dallas Mavericks and, more importantly, seemed to improve on his defense and court awareness (7 steals in two games from his return). This sight not only boosts hopes of a 2013 NBA championship but also gives fans flashbacks from their championship run, mainly from Bruce Bowen. Bowen wasn't a player who'd get a bunch of steals or block shots like Kawhi can, but the mentality Bowen had on the court is the same one Leonard has right now: make the opponent take the toughest shot possible and don't think head coach Gregg Popovich doesn't see a lot of Bowen in Leonard. After the San Antonio Spurs decisively defended their home court against the rival Dallas Mavericks, Pop spoke about the similarities of the two men and what he expects Leonard to be on this squad.  "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," said Popovich. "I think he's got the mentality for it, the intelligence for it. He just needs the experience." With Leonard only in his second year in the league, this is quite the compliment. In a league that's tilted itself to the side of offensive over having a balance, Leonard is impressing people over conditions that Bowen and the Spurs of old didn't face on a consistent basis. While Leonard plays a calm defense, his height, wingspan, and footwork makes it difficult for a player to get a shot over him and a tough time to back him down with his upper body strength. If he can pick up some of Bowen's old tendencies on defense like a constant hand in the face to block the vision of the court along with the other hand on the ball to disrupt a passing lane while as close as possible to be a nuisance (especially now that the Spurs have great bigs who can help in the paint with Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw), Kawhi Leonard could earn himself a couple of defensive player of the year awards to his shelf.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

John Harbaugh: Bill Belichick is best coach of this century

Brandon Jennings suffers horrific Achilles injury

Van Gundy rips Bulls management about Thibs

Harbaugh lands first commitment at Michigan

NFL warns Seahawks about 'obscene gestures'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Lane Kiffin will remain with Alabama in 2015

Belichick: Patriots followed 'every rule' prepping footballs

Colts LB Andrew Jackson arrested on DUI charge

Sam Shields: Dez Bryant catch should have counted

Klay Thompson sets NBA record with 37 pts in a quarter

Hall of Famer Ernie Banks passes away

Should Tom Izzo be worried about his Spartans?

Five potentially fatal flaws for Seahawks in the Super Bowl

WATCH: Urban, OSU students send message to Mark May

The five best Super Bowl matchups ever

WATCH: Mike Riley gets big welcome at Nebraska game

Leonard Fournette's brother commits to LSU

Bledsoe not happy about other QBs trashing Brady

Red Sox P Joe Kelly predicts he will win Cy Young Award

WATCH: Bill Belichick drops 'My Cousin Vinny' reference

USC sends recruit personalized business cards

Coastal Carolina planning to install teal-colored field

The five most significant Super Bowls of all time

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Jennings suffers horrific injury

Harbaugh lands first commitment

Seahawks GM: I love Lynch's act

Lane Kiffin staying with Alabama

Belichick goes 'My Cousin Vinny'

Belichick: Patriots followed 'every rule'

Could Patriots have used a sauna?

Klay Thompson scores 37 pts in a quarter

Hall of Famer Ernie Banks passes away

Sesame Street makes "inflate" the word of the day

Which NBA player should get next on a signature shoe deal?

NFL's Deflategate statement doesn't say much

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.