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Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard Preaches Caution, Kyle Anderson Getting More Time

Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard Preaches Caution, Kyle Anderson Getting More Time
Scott Engel Managing Director January 5, 2018 5:11PM EDT
Kawhi Leonard did not play against the 76ers on Wednesday, the second night of a back-to-back set in the Northeast this week. But judging from his most recent outing before Friday, consecutive game performances may not be far away, With Leonard in the lineup Tuesday, San Antonio topped the Knicks by nine points. Without him the following night at Philadelphia, the Spurs dropped a six-point decision to the Sixers.

Talking to Leonard after season-highs in minutes (31) and points (25) at New York, he cautioned that he was still working his way back into prime playing form. But from a pure scouting perspective, he’s looking pretty darn close to where he maybe should be, and with Rudy Gay and Danny Green battling injuries, plus the need to keep pace in the Western Conference, the Spurs need to have Leonard in the lineup more frequently. His seasonal Fantasy owners should look forward to that as a reality soon. Here’s Leonard in the postgame after what could be a very important outing for him as he is trying to make it all the way back from a quad injury that forced him to miss the first 27 games this season.

Ginobli’s observations on Kawhi

Teammate Manu Ginobli also stressed that Leonard is still on the way back and is not quite fully himself yet. This appears to be a team-wide public stance, but it seems to be just a matter of time before the Spurs are forced to abandon the “rest Kawhi” approach.

Aldridge feeling good down low

While Leonard was out, LaMarcus Aldridge was enjoying a revival after a frustrating campaign with the Spurs last season. He has led the team in scoring 30 of 39 times. His points per game are up to 22.2 from 17.3 last year and the rebounds are back up to 8.4 after his 7.3 in 2016-17 were his lowest since 2009. Talking to Aldridge this week, he is having fun again and likes how his teammates are getting him the ball frequently in the post, even looking for him down low when they are pushing the ball up the floor on fast breaks. Aldridge could see his numbers dip a bit as Leonard rounds into form more, but as he indicates here, he does not have a big issue with that.

More Court Time for Kyle Anderson

As the Spurs have been dealing with injuries to Gay and Green, they have needed Kyle Anderson to step forward and play more. He has logged 20-plus minutes in each of the past four games with a season-high 36 at Philadelphia. His scoring has been up and down, but he has grabbed 28 rebounds during that span. If he can deliver more double figure outings while Gay is out, he’ll be more Fantasy-friendly and will get consistent DFS consideration. Here I talk to Anderson one on one about his unique skill set and role with the team.

Silver and Black Bits

Here’s some more useful and fun Spurs notes heading into the weekend: Aldridge has scored 20-plus points in 26 games, 30-plus four times and 40-plus once this season. … San Antonio currently ranks second in the league in fewest opponent points allowed per game. On average, the Spurs are holding their opponents to 98.3 points per game and have held over half of their opponents to under 100 points (23 of 39). … Kyle Anderson has scored in double figures 14 times and led the team in rebounds three times. … With his 10th career triple-double on Dec. 23, Pau Gasol became one of five players in NBA history to record such a feat at age 37 or older with Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd (3x) and Elvin Hayes. … Gasol has scored in double digits 21 times, registered seven double-doubles and one triple-double. Gasol has led the team in rebounds 19 times, assists 13 times and in blocks 11 times. … The Spurs have five of the Top 10 players with the best winning percentages in league history in Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

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