According to express-news, Coach Popovich said he wanted to see more consistency out of Kawhi Leonard, and Leonard wants more minutes to do so.
Fresh off of a great postseason that was capped by a Finals MVP performance, Kawhi Leonard is ready to tackle more minutes and more responsibility. Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich has now said that he wants to see more consistency from his 23 year-old swingman. Leonard is ready to take on that challenge, but he also he needs more time on the floor to prove he can do just that.
Leonard averaged just 29.1 minutes per game last season, but he did shoot 52% from the floor and possessed a 98 defensive rating which landed him in seventh for that category. During the postseason however, his stats dipped a little bit while he received a minor bump in minutes. Popovich had this to say about the responsibility of increasing one’s consistency:
I’m probably going to talk to him more about consistency now. He’s reached a certain level and if you look at those last three games he played they were pretty special. But to be in that top echelon of players in our league it’s a huge responsibility to have to come and do that every night. The Duncans, the Durants, the James-es and all those kinds of guys do it night after night after night and it’s a huge responsibility.
It takes a certain kind of character and that’s what I want to see him do now, defensively and offensively: To bring it every night. In his case it’s very special because he can bring it at both ends of the court. Some guys are basically offense and a couple other guys are defense but he has an effect on the game at both ends of the court so it’s going to be about consistency more than trying to teach him a new move and say, ‘Start doing this because Larry (Bird) did it,’ or something like that.
Kawhi Leonard responded to Pop’s words with this:
In the Finals I’m playing 35 minutes a game, so I’m on the floor more and able to score the ball more and get more rebounds. So I’m going to have to get consistent minutes to play at a consistent level like that. I’ve been trying to (be a dominant player) since I’ve been here. […] It’s just in order to get me more involved in the offense, that’s what I go by. Like I said, if I’m going to get seven more minutes on the floor, that’s going to be important. We’ll see what happens. I mean, my role was supposed to expand last year and we played pretty much the same basketball. So we’ll see what Coach Pop has.