NBA Player Power Rankings: Change of the Guard

Mar 16, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) steals the ball from New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Pelicans defeated the Kings 123-108. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) steals the ball from New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Pelicans defeated the Kings 123-108. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 15, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball as Los Angeles Clippers power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (12, right) defends during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 15, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball as Los Angeles Clippers power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (12, right) defends during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

5. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

Last Rank: No. 5

Position: Small Forward

Age: 24

Slash Line: .509/.460/.883

Season Averages: 33.0 MPG, 21.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 1.8 3PM

Remember how Stephen Curry won NBA MVP on the strength of the, “He doesn’t even play the fourth quarter,” argument? If not for Curry’s tremendous 2015-16 season, Kawhi Leonard would likely have followed in his footsteps.

Having already won an NBA championship, Finals MVP award, and Defensive Player of the Year honors, Leonard has quite the case to add an All-NBA First Team selection to his resume.

Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs—and not Curry and the Golden State Warriors—are No. 1 in the NBA in point differential. Leonard is No. 2 in the Association in Win Shares per 48 minutes, anchoring the team’s efforts on both ends.

Much as Tim Duncan did during his prime years, Leonard has transcended San Antonio’s system—just check his absurd net rating of plus-15.6.

Leonard willingly sacrifices for the betterment of the team, but there’s no question that he’s good enough to take over when necessary. The statistics may tell a different story—87.7 percent of his 3-point field goals are assisted—but everything San Antonio does on offense goes through him.

The ball moves with selflessness and a purpose, and that purpose tends to be to find Leonard’s massive mitts.

Next: A Little Magic