Gregg Popovich: Kawhi Leonard ‘the best player in the league’

By Jesse Reed

Gregg Popovich is always loyal to his players, especially the ones who hold a place in his heart like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard.

Speaking after San Antonio finished off the Memphis Grizzlies in six games Thursday night, Popovich gushed about Leonard, who led the way for the Spurs with 29 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Now, one might be inclined to point to the likes of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry as the best player in the NBA. But it’s hard to argue with Pop’s overall point here. There really isn’t a consistently better two-way player than Leonard, who really should be considered among the favorites to win the NBA’s MVP award for the 2016-17 season.

Over the course of the regular season, Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 3.5 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and just under one block per game. Those numbers don’t do justice to the impact Leonard had on San Antonio, however, and it’s understandable why Popovich went to bat for him after his exceptional series against the Grizzlies.