Gregg Popovich told Kawhi Leonard that he needed to become the best defensive player in the NBA.

“That’s how I grew up…Just play ­defense—and make a basket,” said Leonard.

Leonard discussed his preparation on the defensive side of the ball.

“I look at film, but more than watching individual players, I’m trying to watch a team’s whole offensive scheme. I’m trying to know their tendencies so I can . . . guess. That’s what it comes down to, really, making the best guess. I’m trying to change up their scheme.” 


Popovich also talked about the hesitation the San Antonio Spurs had in trading away George Hill for Leonard on draft night.

“We were all looking at each other like, Are we really going to do this? We were scared s‑‑‑less. We don’t know this kid. He’s not a shooter. He’s not a scorer. He’s not a perimeter player. He’s a big guy who can rebound.” 


Popovich also revealed how he coaches Leonard.

“I try to keep things light with him..but I also let him know it is now his responsibility to bring it night after night like Kobe, like Michael, like Magic, like Larry, like Tim Duncan. He is in that category.”