6ix Quick Facts: Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard comes to Toronto as one of the best players in the league on both sides of the floor. In seven seasons with the San Antonio Spurs — following a draft night trade where he was acquired from the Indiana Pacers — Leonard quickly emerged as a two-way phenom, leading the Spurs to a championship in his third NBA season where he was named Finals MVP.
After two seasons at San Diego State University, Leonard made the jump to the NBA. Though his stellar defensive skills and rebounding (Leonard averaged 10.4 rebounds per game in his sophomore season of college), had him on the radar of NBA scouts, the top 10 spots in the draft went to bigger names of college basketball and international prospects, leaving the Spurs to swoop in and send George Hill to Indiana in exchange for Leonard.
Playing alongside Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili was a seamless fit for Leonard. He reached the NBA Finals in just his second season as the Spurs suffered defeat to the Miami Heat in seven games. Just a year later, in a Finals rematch with the Heat, Leonard made the move from NBA star to superstar, winning the championship and being named NBA Finals MVP, all before ever being named an NBA All-Star.
Behind Leonard’s 17.8 points on 61 percent shooting — to go along with stellar defence on Miami’s LeBron James — the Spurs defeated the Heat in five games, completing a dominant comeback from a 2013 heartbreak. Two years later, Leonard added consecutive NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards to his trophy case, earning the title of top defender in 2015 and 2016. He was also named to the All-NBA First team in 2016 and 2017.
Though Leonard battled injury during the 2017-18 season, he comes to Toronto to suit up in a Raptors uniform as the most decorated player in franchise history. Leonard’s career averages of 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game only hint at the impact he can have on the court on both ends of the floor.
6IX QUICK FACTS
- Kawhi Leonard is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year award winner and the 2014 NBA Finals MVP.
- Leonard was named Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year before being selected to his first NBA All-Star game.
- A handshake with Leonard is one to be remembered: According to the New York Times, Leonard’s hand measures 11.25 inches across from thumb to pinkie and 9.75 inches long. This is a staggering 52 percent wider than the average man’s hand. Though Leonard stands 6-foot-7, his wingspan is listed at 7-foot-3.
- During his time in San Antonio, Leonard became a star away from the floor in team promotional videos in partnership with local grocery chain H-E-B.
- He was the third-youngest player to be named Finals MVP, and just the sixth in NBA history to be named Finals MVP in a season where they were not an All-Star.
- He has been an All-NBA First Team selection twice (2016, 2017).