Spurs Writers’ Roundtable: Leonard’s role debated

CaptionCloseSan Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, center, puts up a shot past Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard,...

Spurs Writers’ Roundtable: Leonard’s role debated

CaptionCloseSan Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, center, puts up a shot past Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard,...

27 February 2017 Monday 12:57
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Spurs Writers’ Roundtable: Leonard’s role debated

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San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, center, puts up a shot past Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, center, puts up a shot past Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Lakers' Brandon Ingram, center, fights for the ball with San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, left, and Dewayne Dedmon during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Lakers' Brandon Ingram, center, fights for the ball with San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, left, and Dewayne Dedmon during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, in Los

 

Each week, the Express-News Spurs coverage team — Jeff McDonald, Jabari Young, Tom Orsborn and Melissa Rohlin — weighs in on the franchise and NBA-related issues of the day. Catch the writers every Sunday night on the E-N’s S.A. Sports Nation Show, which airs on WOAI-TV at 11 p.m.

 

Relying on Kawhi Leonard has become a trend for the Spurs this season, especially in the fourth quarter. How do they alter the pattern?

McDonald: I’m not sure you want to drastically alter this pattern. Kawhi Leonard is the Spurs’ best player, and one of the top one-on-one contested shot makers in the NBA, so why would you not want to ride him like Secretariat? It helps, I guess, when other people add something to Leonard’s 30-point nights. When LaMarcus Aldridge is also on for example, it takes the Spurs from good to great, so to speak. The fourth quarter most nights needs to be Leonard’s time, though. He’s your bell cow.

Young: They can’t alter it. At times, the Spurs do need another source of scoring when the game is on the line, but this is what Leonard has become — the go-to-guy. I’d still like to see that dynamic-duo of Leonard and Aldridge clicking in the fourth. It’s possible that will still occur as Aldridge appears to be overcoming a shooting slump. But Leonard is the face of the team. When you need a basket, it’s better to go to your best player. Leonard is the Spurs’ best player. You can’t take the ball out of his hands now. Will he need help? Absolutely, especially in the playoffs when defenses will lock in on Leonard. But altering the pattern this late in the season? Not sure Gregg Popovich will do that.

Rohlin: I think it’s actually less of a problem in the fourth quarter than it is earlier in games. The Spurs have been notorious this season for not playing all 48 minutes, and I think that has a lot to do with the team waiting around for Leonard to do something instead of moving around and trying to create opportunities for themselves. Leonard has established himself as a superstar, but his teammates need to know that doesn’t mean they can disengage and take time off.

Orsborn: They alter it by letting Leonard continue to grow. I said early this season I’ve noticed he has a tendency to hang onto the ball a tad too long in crunch-time situations while trying to let the designed play develop. With time, he’ll learn to look for other options quicker. A great example of what I’m talking about occurred in Houston back in December, when Manu Ginobili began driving into the lane, saw it clogged and kicked it out to Patty Mills, who sank a wide-open 3 for the winning points. I imagine we’ll see more of that from Leonard as time goes by.

Go to ExpressNews.com to read what else our writers have to say about Tony Parker's dwindling assist total, Dewayne Dedmon's future, and more. 

Do you have a question for the Express-News’ Spurs beat writers to discuss in an upcoming Roundtable? Email potential topics to jlefko@express-news.net

 

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