Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 12/26/12
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

NFLPA: NFL didn't respond to Tom Brady settlement offer

Tom Coughlin calls Jason Pierre-Paul situation a ‘fiasco’

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Tom Brady lawsuit transferred from Minnesota to Manhattan

LeGarrette Blount failed conditioning test

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Trent Richardson 'reclamation project not going so well'

Geno Smith laughed at being ranked last in QB poll

Penn State trash talks Notre Dame Twitter over 'Rudy'

Report: Aroldis Chapman unlikely to be traded

Mets’ trade for Carlos Gomez called off despite reports

Report: Rangers to acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies

Affairs of the Hart (Trophy)

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Terry Collins writes letter to widow of longtime Mets fan

Jets fans fly "Cheaters Look Up" banner over Patriots practice

Dodgers upgrade rotation in unexpected, intelligent way

For some NFL players, life begins at undrafted

NBA's Africa game: A tribute to Hakeem Olajuwon

Top storyline for each NFL team heading into training camp

Texas QB commit has great anti-Oklahoma T-shirt

WATCH: Tim Tebow does monster leg workout

Farrell: Sandoval's conditioning 'continues to be addressed'

Revis won't wear Super Bowl ring around Jets teammates

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

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Can Preller fix the mess in San Diego?

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Who is the NL's new top shortstop?

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Mets still act like a small-market team

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong

NFL upholds Tom Brady's suspension, legal battle likely

Cardinals hire first female NFL coach

Larry Bird: Michael Jordan would kill me in 1-on-1 now

Seau family: HOF broke their word

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker