The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the most successful NBA teams in the league for nearly two decades. They have the best coach in the NBA in Gregg Popovich, and they have had a terrific roster led by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili for a long long time. The last title the Spurs won in 2014 was great team effort, but it was also the coming out party for Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard was the 2014 NBA Finals MVP because of what he could do on both ends of the floor. Ever since the 2014 finals, he has improved every season and last season he made the leap to become the go-to scorer/playmaker for the Spurs. He averaged 21.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and he shot over 40 percent from deep. He is also coming off winning his second straight NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, which shows that he can still get it done on both ends.
Now, that Duncan is gone… it is OFFICIALLY Kawhi’s team. Yes, LaMarcus Aldridge is a very strong counterpart, but Kawhi is now going to be asked to do a lot more than he ever has and he is certainly up for it. He can lock down the best player on the opposing team and he can be the best offensive player on the floor at the same time. Kawhi is going to be the primary playmaker for the second straight season and last year was a successful first year for Kawhi for as the primary go-to player. If Kawhi and the Spurs can win 60 games and get his numbers up a bit, he has to win the MVP. Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook are all going to be the popular MVP picks because most of them are on fantastic teams and the other candidates like Harden and Westbrook are just going to have extremely high usage rates. Kawhi is going to have a high usage rate as well, but he should put up more consistent shooting numbers and he adds elite defensive ability.
Kawhi is my prediction to win the MVP because of the situation he is in and because I think he will make an even bigger leap this season. I am not sold on Westbrook and Harden being efficient enough/having a good enough team and I am not sold on LeBron because he might take some nights off to stay healthy and I am not sold on any Warriors players because they have TOO much talent.
In the end, how could you not root for the Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs this season? The silent superstar should make plenty of noise this season.