Cowbell Kingdom Prospect Profile: Kawhi Leonard
The draft prospects have been trickling through Sacramento, mostly six at a time. And Friday will likely be more of the same.
Although the list of candidates have yet to be released, our friend Sam Amick of SI.com confirmed earlier this week via Twitter that San Diego State small forward Kawhi Leonard will be the main attraction.
While Jimmer Fredette seems to be the scoop de jour for the Kings right now (he’s jumped up the DraftExpress.com mock to no. 7), it’s Leonard that’s fallen a few spots. But multiple sources have told Cowbell Kingdom that the Kings minds aren’t made up just yet. They are extremely interested in the 19-year-old swingman and have been for some time.
Breaking the mold from the previous 13 prospect profiles, we are going to take a good hard look at Leonard a few days early because his story is extremely compelling. And if our sources are correct, Leonard might be just what the Kings are looking for come June 23rd.
There are plenty of narratives that surround NBA players. Last season, we delved into the excruciating painful journey of Kings reserve power forward Darnell Jackson as he clung to his NBA dreams (If you haven’t read it, please do. It will change your perspective on one of the strongest people I have ever had the privilege to meet). Leonard has another one of those tragic stories.
Since the tale has been told, both written by Sam Amick for the New York Times, and video by CBS Sports, there’s very little for us to add. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t share it with you because at the end of the day, Leonard could wind up a King. And like every other King, he would become part of the family.
Now that you know his story, it’s time to get to the profile after the jump.
Kawhi Leonard – San Diego State
Whether through the draft, free agency or trade, the Kings are looking to upgrade at small forward. Last season, the prerequisite for the position entailed two things – an ability to shoot from the perimeter and a defensive presence. After struggling to 24 wins, small forward was exposed as the Kings’ biggest weakness last season. It’s why Leonard is being so closely examined with Sacramento’s seventh pick.
He’s not the perimeter shooter (29.1% three pointers) the Kings need. But Leonard does fit the mold of a defender. Leonard has an incredible 7′-3″ wingspan and is armed with some of the largest hands the combine has ever seen. His 11.25″-wide mitts are tied for the second largest measured hands since the combine started recording them. Although his vertical leap, both standing (25.5″) and max (32.0), leave something to be desired, Leonard’s long arms and oversized hands have made him one of college basketball’s elite rebounders at 10.6 boards per game.
With Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins primed to be the Kings’ primary scorers, Leonard might appeal as a starting small forward that can guard the NBA’s elite wing players. Known for his high character and excellent work ethic, he would also be a welcome addition to the Kings as a Doug Christie type, who could sacrifice his game for the betterment of the team.
Former NBA Head Coach Eddie Jordan on Leonard (via CBS Sports Eye on Basketball):
He’s a player who will make an immediate impact. He’s a guy who’s going top 15. When a lottery team drafts a player, they want to see an immediate impact. They don’t want to draft a project. Unless you look at Detroit drafting Darko. They could say “He’s 6-11, we can wait on him.” Not many of those teams in the lottery this year. But Leonard can come in right away and do things for your team, and that’s really valuable in those lottery picks.
- Height: 6′-6″ w/o shoes; 6′-7″ w/ shoes.
- Weight: 227-pounds; 5.4% body fat.
- Wingspan: 7′-3″
- Standing Reach: 8′-10″
- Vertical: 25.5″ no step vert; 32.0″ max vert.
- Strength: 3 reps on bench press (185-pounds).
- Agility Drills: Lane agility- 11.45 seconds; 3/4 court sprint- 3.15 seconds.
We will share an assessment of Leonard’s Kings workout following the session Friday.