The San Antonio Spurs have been on a roll as they have won 9 of their last 10 games, which include the back to back overtime wins and other close ones, and are now just 2.5 games behind the Warriors.
While the success of the Spurs is of no great surprise as they have been one of the most successful franchises for over two decades now (as they have made 20 playoffs appearances in 20 years, including this year) with their prolific passing, great team defense and offensive efficiency, Kawhi Leonard has come on his own in this season and has really shown the world that he is the face of the Spurs now.
We are all familiar with his defensive prowess as he has won back to back defensive player of the year awards in 2015 and 2016, but the question that was looming over people’s minds before the start of this season was how is the offense going to run through Kawhi and how are the Spurs going to function without the leadership of Tim Duncan. Kawhi has risen to the challenge and has shown that he is capable of being the leader and best player of this franchise.
Kawhi has been averaging 26.3 PPG while shooting 48% from field and 38% from 3 point range this season. He is in the midst of perhaps his best stretch of the season and is now averaging 33.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 3.3 steals and 2.3 treys per game over his last four. He had four games with 30+ points in his CAREER before this season. This season he has had 23 games with 30 or more. The Spurs, very uncharacteristically, have had no problem in just letting Kawhi play iso-ball in the last minutes of the game all season long, which has worked wonders as he has played clutch late into the 4th quarter. Be it the game winner over Paul George, the steal from Jrue Holiday and the slam to get them to a difference of one or the 3 point shot against the rockets late in the 4th and then the block on harden to win the game (and many others), he has been a nightmare for the opposition on both ends of the floor specially during crunch time. The great Popovich in the postgame press conference after the Rockets game praised Kawhi Leonard by saying that many players shoot threes, but not many players work every single night on the defensive end of the floor like Kawhi does.
These are some monster numbers that makes his MVP case stronger and has lead people to consider him to be an eligible candidate to win that title. With Kevin Durant injured and due to be evaluated end of this month, he surely is placed at 3rd or 4th in the MVP race if not in the top 2.