SAN DIEGO CA - FEBRUARY 5: Kawhi Leonard #15 of San Diego State dribbles the ball in the second half against TCU at Cox Arena on February 5 2011 in San Diego. SDSU beat TCU 60-53. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
San Diego State star Kawhi Leonard - widely excepted to be a top ten pick - was in Washington D.C. this morning for his second pre-draft workout, this one with the Wizards. Currently projected to go 7th overall to the Sacramento Kings, the versatile 6-foot-7 forward could certainly land in the nation's capital as well if the Wizards decide to add a weapon on the wing.
Currently Rashard Lewis is the only wing forward guaranteed to be on the roster next season and there has been discussion of Washington adding a player capable of providing some scoring from the perimeter while also proving an interior presence. While Leonard is a versatile player capable of operating as an inside/outside presence offensively, he certainly doesn't have an elite skill set, better suited to play a complementary role offensively. With players like John Wall, Jordan Crawford and Nick Young on the perimeter, having another perimeter option who doesn't need to dominate the basketball would be a good addition.
Clearly though, Leonard's best attribute right now is his defense. Given his solid size and long wingspan, the athletic forward is well suited to locking down multiple positions, be it on the perimeter on in the paint. He would certainly be an upgrade over the current options on the roster in this regard.
Several reporters who were at this afternoon's workout had positive things to say about Leonard as well.
Overall, I was impressed with the way Leonard's shot looked. Again, the caveat here is that we're talking about a small sample size, but Leonard was hitting many of his practice jumpers in both fast-break shooting drills and half-court drills where you're asked to hit seven foul-line jumpers. He hit four fast-break mid-range jumpers in a row, minutes after Flip Saunders joked that nobody in the group was doing it. He also did quite well in the foul-line drill. I really liked the way his shooting stroke looked - he jumped straight up, had great balance, took his shots at the highest point and did a really good job with his follow-through. The only thing is we didn't get to see him shooting three-pointers, which is the shot he absolutely has to master in this league.
Mike is absolutely right in his assessment of where Leonard's game ultimately needs to progress. His offensive game is raw, plain and simple. Yes, he was among the top scorers in the Mountain West last season, but that was due more to his physical gifts as opposed to an advanced set of skills. Keep in mind though, he's only 19-years-old right now and in a few years time could develop significantly more polish than he has right now. In fact, given how much he progressed in just two seasons at the college level, it's very likely he'll add many more wrinkles to his game. Again, his immediate impact will be as a defender, something the Wizards could certainly use.
Leonard, who in two college seasons carved a reputation as a dogged rebounder and defender also able to score close to the basket as well with a mid-range jumper and the occasional three-pointer. Those attributes make him an ideal fit for Washington, which is seeking to upgrade its wing scoring with a player who ideally also can be a robust interior presence. Leonard (6 feet 7, 225 pounds) this past season led the Mountain West Conference in both in offensive and defensive rebounding and was fourth in scoring, fourth in steals, sixth in free throw percentage and seventh in field goal percentage.
Enes Kanter still remains a popular potential pick for the Wizards, but the limited information and game footage on the big man could ultimately force Washington to pass, assuming he's even on the board at No. 6 anyway. If either of these prove to be the case, Leonard, who continues to be mentioned for several teams in the 5-10 range, could land at the Verizon Center next season.