One of the early surprises of the NBA season has been the play of Kawhi Leonard, who seems to be embracing his new team despite reports he wanted no part of playing for the Toronto Raptors. So far, he's proven that to not be true, as he's helped lead the team to a 5-0 start, putting them alone atop the Eastern Conference standings. His play on the offensive end has been key, as the former Spur is averaging 28 points per game, but on Wednesday night it was a defensive play that made the highlight reel.
This is not exactly new for Leonard, who is probably (definitely) the best two-way player in the league and has two Defensive Player of the Year awards to show for it. He's so good that he's now inventing new ways to steal the ball, because just plain jumping in the passing lane to pick one off is too boring. Here's Leonard on Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves pulling off the never-before-seen no-look steal, which is already in the early running for defensive play of the year:
Leonard is playing chess while the Timberwolves play Candyland like some chumps. No wonder Jimmy Butler is fed up. Between this, the palming of the basketball post-dunk BEFORE it hit the floor and that glorious mashup of the "NBA on NBC" theme and Leonard's awkward laugh, this might just be the year of Kawhi. We're very much here for it.