It's the human and fun side of our sports heroes

Kobe Bryant applauds Kawhi Leonard’s growth in NBA

210

Throughout the years, Toronto Raptors’ forward Kawhi Leonard has been one of the toughest players to beat in the league. His hardwork, perseverance and fighter spirit are key qualities of what makes him one of the best. Many have already been amazed with the progress of Leonard, and adding to the ever-growing list of fans is NBA legend himself Kobe Bryant.

In the lastest episode of ESPN’s Detail, the 18-time All-Star praised the truly impressive development Leonard has displayed in his NBA journey.

“His growth as a player is phenomenal… phenomenal,” Bryant said.

The former MVP also added, “Funny thing is, I remember when he first came into the league and we were playing the Spurs at Staples Centre, and I get to Staples Centre early to get my shots up and I see this young kid out there shooting the ball, and I’m looking down at him shoot and I’m telling you, Kawhi could not shoot a gun when he first came in the league.”

Bryant also acknowledged the effort Leonard put in to improve his offensive skills. He was impressed with Leonard’s style of using strength to create separation from the opponent then hitting those mid-range shots. At 46 percent, the 27-year-old Raptor is in the 89th percentile among forwards shooting from the mid-range.

However, Leonard needs to step up more if he wants to take the Raptors to the finals. Currently, the Orlando Magic leads 1-0 after Game 1’s 104-101 loss. He finished with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists, playing 33 minutes in the match. The Magic is in the league’s eight-best in defense, and if Leonard wants to turn things around, fans are expecting him to be more aggressive on the court. Game 2 between the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic begins on Wednesday (Manila time) at the Scotiabank Arena. (Janiel Abby Toralba)