Found April 18, 2013 on Project Spurs:
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko was once an All-Star back in his 2004 season with the Utah Jazz. Then, at the age of 22, Kirilenko was known as a defensive monster on the perimeter as he averaged 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 2.8 blocks per game. Fast forward nine years later, Kirilenko now at the age of 31, was only able to score five points, grab six rebounds, and steal two passes in his team’s season finale victory over the San Antonio Spurs.   Prior to the game, I caught up with Kirilenko in the Wolves locker room and asked him about his thoughts on a young player who has the potential to be an All-Star one day, Spurs sophomore Kawhi Leonard. “I think he’s a really talented promising player who is blossoming under Popovich,” said Kirilenko. “He’ll be a very crucial part for San Antonio. He’s a guy who can really cover both defense and offense.” Before the Spurs’ season finale with the Timberwolves, Leonard was about to end the regular season as the Spurs’ third leading scorer. “He’s the complete player,” continued Kirilenko. “With him having Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili on the team, it’s opened up opportunities for him to be unattended.” As he wraps up his second NBA regular season, Leonard now prepares to face the playoffs for the second time in his career. As a rookie, he was an efficient shooter from 3-point range in the playoffs and was the Spurs’ prime perimeter defender. Heading into Sunday’s round one game, Leonard is still regarded as the best perimeter defender on the Spurs, and though his outside shooting has hit a minor wall, he has expanded his game offensively inside, outside, in the midrange, and especially in the open court. With Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili all looking healthy and in sync in the second quarter of the their loss to the Timberwolves on Wednesday, where the team scored 37 points, Leonard will now have to see if he will still be able to contribute offensively in the postseason at a high level, like he had done when one or two of them were hurt. The playoffs are where players ultimately make their mark. For Leonard, this will be his opportunity to show the national audience he’s much more than the Spurs’ fourth best role player. Instead, he might propel himself into fans calling him part of the “Big 4.” 
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Stephen Jackson Says Greg Popovich Wasn’t Making any Sense

  Stephen Jackson should just not speak and take the loss on this one, because making statements like this can only hinder him from moving forward and finding employment elsewhere. Unfortunately for Jackson and the San Antonio Spurs, his second stint with the organization, didn’t go as well as the first. Jackson was released by the team right before the playoffs began because...

Stephen Jackson on being waived by Spurs: 'We had a disagreement'

When fan-favorite Stephen Jackson was released by the San Antonio Spurs last week, it was a shock to many throughout the NBA. Many were scratching their heads wondering why would the Spurs do this roster move now with the playoffs days away? What did he do? Was it because of his lack of production? Head coach Gregg Popovich called it a tough decision done in the best interest...

Wolves learn second pick in draft will be 26th

The second of the Minnesota Timberwolves two first-round picks in the June 27 NBA draft was set in place Friday. If it doesnt move up in the draft lottery, Minnesota will have the No. 9 overall selection by way of its 31-51 regular-season record and will also select 26th, which was Memphis' pick via Houston. Minnesota will select 26th by virtue of Memphis losing a Friday drawing...

Will releasing Jackson haunt the Spurs in the postseason?

Project Spurs kicks off its 2013 Spurs Playoff preview as the Spurs face the Lakers in the first round. Paramjit Mahal asks if releasing Stephen Jackson will hurt the Spurs in the playoffs. After the final night of the regular season, the San Antonio Spurs found out they will be meeting an old foe in the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs -- the Los Angeles Lakers.  ...

Wolves head into an offseason filled with maybes

The injuries started immediately and never stopped, keeping the Minnesota Timberwolves out of the playoffs for the ninth straight season. That's the longest active streak in the NBA. Now they head into another summer of uncertainty. Owner Glen Taylor has yet to say if he will pick up the option on team president David Kahn's contract for next season. Rick Adelman will not...

Minnesota aims to play spoiler vs. Spurs

Though the San Antonio Spurs may be closer to full strength and have the Western Conference's No. 2 seed, this is not how Gregg Popovich wanted his team to enter the playoffs. Some may feel he's partly to blame. With San Antonio still reeling from Stephen Jackson's sudden departure, Popovich plans to play everyone available - even possibly Manu Ginobili and newcomer...

6 Basketball players that should make an NBA comeback

With the NBA playoffs on the horizon, the San Antonio Spurs went out this week and signed, the one, the only, Tracy McGrady. McGrady was once one of the most popular players in the NBA, leading the league in scoring in 03 and 04 and making multiple all-star teams. He teamed with Yao Ming in Houston, where the two became the most beloved Black/Asian duo since Jackie Chan and Chris...

Metta World Peace on his brother, a big Spurs fan: ‘Not a friend right now’

With the Los Angeles Lakers making it into the playoffs despite losing Kobe Bryant at season’s end and a first-round playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs looming on the horizon with the first game on Sunday, the battle lines have been drawn in House Artest (or the House formerly known as Artest but now going by World Peace — or something). Why? Because Metta World Peace’s...

Spurs look to get healthier and improve their play before Game 1

Gregg Popovich knows his San Antonio Spurs are struggling for the first time in a long time heading into the playoffs. The team hasn't been making their shots and have been unreliable on defense. Tim Duncan has had to play as close as he can to the vintage MVP-like player he used to be to even keep the Spurs in the game, let alone to win it. Coach Pop made known his concern...

Ginobili: We haven't been real sharp

The regular season, thankfully, is over.  For the San Antonio Spurs it ended with a whimper, but you know, one with reasons.  They didn't have Manu Ginobili for nine of their final ten games and were without Tony Parker for 12 of their last 22 games.  The losses piled up as much as they can for a team that won 58 games, so fans and analysts alike expressed concern.  According...

Tracy McGrady and the Spurs: Cursed

Tracy McGrady recently signed a contract with the San Antonio Spurs for the playoff run. If you have any discretionary income do not spend it renting a car this weekend like many people in the hood will, rather go right to the sports book and plop down your hard earned dough on the Spurs to lose in the first round of the playoffs. There has never been a bigger kiss of death than...

Ginobili returns for Spurs in loss to Wolves

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Derrick Williams had 21 points to help the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Spurs 108-95 Wednesday night, ending a 16-game losing streak at San Antonio. Chase Budinger added 15 points and Greg Stiemsma and Ricky Rubio had 12 points apiece for Minnesota, won on the Spurs' home court for the first time since Jan. 14, 2004. Gary Neal had 17 points, Tim Duncan...

Spurs-Lakers playoff series on FOX Sports Southwest

FOX Sports Southwest announced its television schedule for the San Antonio Spurs first-round NBA Western Conference playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. All games in the best-of-seven series not selected for national broadcast by ABC will be televised on FOX Sports Southwest in Spurs TV markets, beginning with Game 2. First-round playoff games televised on FOX Sports...
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!

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.