Kawhi Leonard is playing basketball again. After an extended absence due to his hamstring injury, the Spurs have their best player back. He will impact this team in many ways, obviously adding his 2 time DPOY defense to the team, and adding his team leading scoring. LaMarcus Aldridge has been playing great basketball in Leonard’s absence, but Leonard is better at every part of the game.
The Spurs are currently in third place in the west at 20-10. They are 14th in the league in offensive rating and fifth in the league in defensive rating. Getting Leonard back will help both of those numbers, especially the offensive rating. The Spurs are 21st in the league in true shooting percentage at 54.5%. Leonard’s TS% last year was 61%. When you redistribute the 18 shots a game he took last year and should take this year, the team TS% will go up, adding to their efficiency, which will raise their rating. Getting Leonard back will also be huge for their spacing, as adding his elite 3 point percentage to the lineup will limit how much opponent’s small forward’s can help.
On defense, the Spurs will get to replace the slow footed Kyle Anderson with with Kawhi Leonard. The defense, which ranks fifth in the league right now, should only climb even higher once the 2 time DPOY shakes off his rust.
Replacing Anderson’s .569 TS% with Kawhi’s .610, while taking into account Kawhi’s 31.1 usage percentage from last season compared to Anderson’s 14.9 for this season, and the Spurs are getting a more efficient player taking a lot more shots. With all the attention that Kawhi gets, the other players shots will be easier, and everyone should be more efficient. Kawhi’s return will make sure this team only gets better.