Obtained in a draft-night trade that sent popular guard George Hill to Indiana, Kawhi Leonard — taken 15th overall — arrives as the Spurs’ highest-drafted rookie since Tim Duncan went No. 1 in 1997.
Though coach Gregg Popovich has sought to tamp down expectations for Leonard, the Spurs clearly did not part with a key rotation piece like Hill to bring in a player they did not think could contribute soon.
“Kawhi is what we expected, in that we knew he was a hard worker; that he was a committed player; that he responded well defensively, and rebounding-wise,” Popovich said. “Already he’s a little more explosive than we expected — the stops and starts, that sort of thing.”