Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Kawhi Leonard


Kawhi Leonard has spent his college career as a relatively unknown talent. His San Diego State team, however, finally got a bit of national recognition as one of the top-ranked college basketball teams all season and Leonard has continued that momentum with strong pre-draft performances.


Measurables: 6-foot-7, 225 pounds,  sophomore F from San Diego State

Key stats: 15.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game while shooting 44 percent

Projected: Lottery

How would he help the Pistons?

The Pistons had a lot of weaknesses last season, but if we’re breaking the team down to it’s most basic level, the one thing they lacked virtually every night was energy. Leonard was one of the most energetic players in college basketball last season. He played as kind of a tweener forward at SDSU, but his size makes him likely a wing player in the NBA. Still though, despite giving up some size, Leonard’s double-digit rebounding average speaks to his motor and ability to go get the ball in traffic. The Pistons have several players vying for perimeter minutes, but the Pistons are one of the least athletic, slowest teams in the league and Leonard would address both of those deficiencies.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

He’s a project offensively. He was able to get points around the basket in college because of his ability to get offensive rebounds and go up and finish, but those opportunities will be harder to come by in the NBA. Leonard does handle the ball fairly well for a forward, but his shooting range (only 29 percent from three) and consistency in his mid-range game need some work.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

"What makes Leonard an enigmatic prospect is his lack of a go-to offensive skill, despite the many different ways he was involved in San Diego State’s game plan. According to Synergy Sports Technology, no single offensive situation accounted for more than 17% of his touches, with Spot-Ups, Isolations, Put Backs, Fast Breaks, Cuts, and Pick and Roll situations each accounting for anywhere between 8-18% of his total possessions. Leonard ranks right around the 45th percentile amongst all NCAA players in each of those metrics in terms of Points Per-Possession."

From ESPN:

"I was blown away by Leonard at the workouts. Not only is his physical profile impressive (huge hands, long wing span, NBA body), but also he’s much more skilled than your typical high-energy forward.Leonard has been working on his jump shot since the season ended and was stroking it from NBA 3-point range the two days I was in the gym. And he demonstrated excellent ball-handling skills for a player his size — both are prerequisites for an NBA small forward. He also has the ability to guard the 2, 3 and 4 at the next level.Leonard proved to be a real gym rat as well. He was the first guy in the gym and the last one to leave both days I was there. On Tuesday I arrived at 9 a.m. and left at 5:30 — Leonard was there the whole time working on various things; he must have shot 1,000 jumpers."

From HoopsWorld:

"Nearly every lottery team has Leonard high on their draft board. After Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams, this draft is wide open and there’s a possibility that Leonard could move into the top five.Kawhi Leonard is easy to like with his unique blend of athleticism, power and range. He won’t have any trouble making a team fall in love with his game, and where he ultimately lands will have a lot to do with where the ping pong balls bounce next week."

Hickory High’s Similarity Scores

Here’s a breakdown of how Ian Levy from Hickory High came up with his similarity scores.